Another Ginn Lawsuit Tossed – Were Plaintiffs Properly Represented?

Plaintiff attorney’s explanation to clients omits Judge’s Rebuke.

Palm Coast, FL – July 7, 2010 – Another lawsuit against real estate developer Bobby Ginn’s companies has been dismissed. Judge Mary Scriven’s Order to Dismiss leads to wonder about the quality of the plaintiffs’ representation. In Feliciano v. Ginn et al, 128 Plaintiffs were represented by Lake Mary law firm Chase Freeman.  
The original complaint was filed August 11, 2008. On June 19, 2009, the Court ruled that a Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint….  "failed to satisfy basic pleading requirements." The case was closed June 4, 2010; elapsed time – nearly 22 (billable) months. Along the way, a total of 208 documents (motions, orders, etc.) were filed. recently received a copy of the communication from plaintiffs’ attorney Damon Chase to his clients, notifying them of the unfavorable ruling along with his analysis. The gist of his communication (below) was that they had fought a noble battle but, alas, the system won, essentially leaving individual plaintiffs little hope of further recourse.
Damon Chase Communication to Plaintiffs [emphasis added]

Dear Clients,
Yesterday, Judge Scriven ruled against us in our bid to keep all the plaintiffs joined in one suit.  The result of which is that she has closed the Feliciano et al. v. Ginn case.  Unfortunately, this brings to an end our ability to fight Ginn’s superior resources by defraying the cost of litigation across a large group of plaintiffs.  The bottom line of the judge’s order is that if you want to sue Ginn, you must do it individually.  Of the few plaintiffs we have represented individually against Ginn, only one is still able to keep up the financial burden of the fight.  The legal bills in that case average about $15,000 per month, which makes such an option cost prohibitive for most plaintiffs.
In the event however you do choose to individually file an action against Ginn and/or Lubert Adler, it must be done on or before July 2, 2010 and must allege equitable tolling of the statute of limitations based on your involvement in the Feliciano et al. case. 
Alternatively, you can appeal Judge Scriven’s ruling.  Such an appeal will likewise need to be filed on or before July 2, 2010.
It is my opinion however that her ruling would likely be upheld, as appellate courts give great deference to trial courts on how they manage their dockets.  We didn’t lose on the merits of our case; we lost because the judge believed the matter was too large to be tried in one case.
Please let me know as quickly as possible of your intentions. 
On Monday, my office will close this file.  I sincerely regret that we were unable to help you hold Ginn accountable for its unconscionable conduct.  Please know that we tried.  Of all the multiple-plaintiff litigation that was filed against Ginn over its actions in the various Florida developments, ours endured the longest.  We were first in and last out.  Numerous strategies were employed by numerous attorneys.  I am not aware of any suits which were ultimately successful in keeping all the plaintiffs together.  I had hoped and believed ours was the strategy that would work. 
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this further.  I’ll be in the office Monday morning.  In the meantime, you can reach me on my cell phone at 407-310-2758.
           DAMON A. CHASE, ESQ.

Quotations from Judge Scriven’s Order [emphasis added]
"In a Court Order on June 19, 2009, this Court rejected Plaintiffs/ proposed Second Amended Complaint due to numerous deficiencies and directed Plaintiffs to re-file a version of the Second Amended Complaint that cured the deficiencies by July 9, 2009 Plaintiffs failed to cure the deficiencies by the deadline, thus the motion is DENIED."
"On July 9, 2009, Plaintiffs filed an incomplete motion and stated that they "reasonably believe[d]" the proposed Second Amended Complaint complied with the Court’s order, but later admitted that the version of the complaint was "a recycled memorandum which failed to adequately address this Court’s concerns." A review of the docket reveals that Plaintiffs did not file a motion for extension of time to re-file the response. Thus, Plaintiff’s motion is not timely filed."
"Plaintiffs’ proposed Second Amended Complaint is rejected for Plaintiff’s failure to plead with particularity facts sufficient to establish the elements of fraud and to set forth the basis for a claim of misrepresentation." [Note: Contrary to Chase’s assertions, this comment seems to address the merits of the case.]
Read>>>> Order [pdf 5-pages]

Clearly the joint filing was an issue, as it was in the Michigan suit dismissed in September 2009, (story) but the Judge’s Order raises other concerns. This lawsuit was reportedly not done on a contingency basis, meaning clients likely paid an up-front fee and were billed incrementally to cover ongoing costs. It’s ironic that an attorney billing by the hour would brag that his case "endured longest."
Note: The Michigan suit was filed in May 2007. Chase’s suit was not "first in."
Meanwhile other Ginn lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs are proceeding with some degree of traction. Acting on an appeal, the 11th Circuit Court has ordered mediation in Liles v. Ginn. Three of the named defendants in Liles v. Ginn have reached out-of-court settlement agreements with plaintiffs. Lawrie v. Ginn has also held together well (multiple plaintiffs) and reportedly is progressing.
It would be interesting to hear from some of Chase’s clients in this case. I’d like to know how they were billed. I’d like to know how much each client paid for their representation. I’d like to know if their attorney kept them informed of the case’s progress and milestones. I’d like to know if a copy of the final Order or any earlier rulings were provided to clients. I’d like to know if their file materials were returned to them so that they would be free to discuss their options with another attorney.
I can be reached at 386-931-7124 or

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2 replies
  1. Frank
    Frank says:

    Double Jeopardy

    Sounds like these poor people got ripped off twice.. Once by Ginn/LA and then by their Lawyer… Was the Lawyer refrered by Ginn !

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