Hammocks settles suit against ex-HOA president’s criminal defense attorneys for $106K

Jose M. Quiñon and Quintero Broche will each pay $53K, admit to no wrongdoing

Hammocks Settles Suit Against Jose M. Quiñon, Quintero Broche
Attorneys Jose M. Quiñon and Frank Quintero (Quiñon Law, Quitero Law, Getty)

The Hammocks settled a lawsuit against a pair of law firms that represented the homeowners association’s criminally charged former president. 

The firms, Jose M. Quiñon P.A. and Quintero Broche P.A., which share a Coral Gables office, each will pay $53,000 without admitting to any wrongdoing and liability, according to their respective settlements. 

The agreements mark the latest settlements between the Hammocks and attorneys who were involved with the HOA during the reign of the criminally charged former board members. 

The Hammocks, a West Kendall community that is home to over 18,000 residents and is one of Florida’s biggest HOAs, was embroiled in an alleged massive fraud scheme for years. In November 2022, prosecutors charged ex-board President Marglli Gallego and three other former board members for their role in hiring bogus contractors that did no work on the 3,800-acre property and for then allegedly misappropriating the HOA’s payments to the contractors. Gallego’s husband, Jose Antonio Gonzalez, who also is charged, is accused of leading some of the fake vendors. All five arrested have pleaded not guilty. 

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Since then, court-appointed Hammocks receiver David Gersten has been overseeing the HOA’s affairs and mining through records to determine whether others, such as former HOA attorneys, played a role in the alleged scheme. Last year, he filed four lawsuits against multiple law firms that received payments from the HOA. 

One of the suits was against law firms Jose M. Quiñon and Quintero Broche, as well as Coral Gables-based Hermida Law. The law firms received a combined $350,000 from the HOA for working as Gallego’s criminal defense attorneys when she was first charged in 2021 with theft of HOA funds, but the attorneys rendered no services directly to the association, according to Gersten’s complaint. 

In response, the law firms argued they did nothing wrong because the Hammocks’ own governing documents require the HOA to indemnity board members. 

“It is common for boards to indemnify and advance legal fees on behalf of directors,

such as Ms. Gallego,” Jose M. Quiñon, founder of his eponymously named firm, and Frank Quintero, managing shareholder of Quintero Broche, wrote in separate court filings. “Otherwise, most individuals will not volunteer to serve on the board for fear of lawsuits and having to pay attorney’s fees and costs out of their own pockets, which could lead to their financial ruin.”

Jose M. Quiñon and Quintero Broche received a combined $150,000 in attorney fees from the Hammocks, meaning the $106,000 settlement amount represents “a significant portion of the total amount of attorneys’ fees received” by the firms from the HOA, Gersten wrote in court filings. The HOA also paid the firms a $20,000 advanced cost retainer, though the receiver previously recovered $14,850 of that. 

Unlike past settlements with HOA attorneys, the Jose M. Quiñon and Quitero Broche agreements don’t say the settlement funds would be tendered by the law firms’ insurers. This is likely because attorneys’ insurers generally cover malpractice claims, but Gersten sued Jose M. Quiñon and Quintero Broche for unjust enrichment. 

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In an email to The Real Deal, Quiñon said that at no time did his law firm act “inappropriately, nor did it have knowledge of any alleged wrongful or illegal activities by board of director members while they served in that capacity for the Hammocks.” 

“My law firm acted legally and ethically at all times in representing Ms. Gallego in a criminal case,” he said in his statement. 

Quiñon also pointed out a clause that appears in both his and Quintero Broche’s settlement that counters one of Gersten’s allegations. The law firms’ representation of Gallego “helped to further the ongoing theft of association assets and worked to conceal the criminal activities of Ms. Gallego and the board of directors against the interests of and to the detriment of the association,” Gersten wrote in the complaint. 

But Jose M. Quiñon’s and Quintero Broche’s settlements include a clause that says that despite this claim by Gersten, “it should be understood that the receiver did not intend to imply or suggest – or found any evidence” that either of the law firms’ work for Gallego “was knowingly, deliberately, or purposely carried out to further or conceal the alleged wrongdoing by Ms. Gallego or any member of the board of directors.”

Quintero Broche didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

The settlements were reached during a March 22 mediation. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko, who is overseeing the Hammocks receivership case, approved the settlements on Monday. 

Although Hermida Law also was at the mediation, it hasn’t settled, though it appears the law firm isn’t eager to keep litigating. 

“I am hopeful we can find a resolution,” Ricardo Hermida said. “We are working toward a mutually beneficial resolution.”

Two other lawsuits against former HOA attorneys have settled for a combined $800,000, paid by the attorneys’ insurers. The fourth suit is against Rasco Klock Perez & Nieto and Hilton Napoleon II, which are fighting Gersten’s allegations. The law firm and attorney Napoleon received a combined $1.5 million from the HOA after they were hired by the ex-board to help fight Miami-Dade County police officers who were poking into Gallego and the HOA, according to Gersten’s complaint.

Todd Boyd, Rasco Klock’s attorney, has said Gersten has provided no evidence to support his allegations against the law firm. “Simply filing a lawsuit … does not create liability,” Boyd has said. 

Napoleon has argued that his work for the Hammocks was well-justified because the police officers he sued on behalf of the HOA had “slandered, harassed and threatened” Gallego, and 

investigators’ records requests were too burdensome. 

A trial in that case is expected to begin on July 8. 

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