Jury Awards More than Amount Sought for Failed Construction Project

As in the 1982 movie “The Verdict,” starring Paul Newman, a Miami-Dade County jury awarded substantially more in damages than Waldman Barnett had requested on behalf of a client involved in a failed construction project.

Instead of $174,000, the jury awarded Waldman Barnett’s client Dr. Ramon Guevara, a highly respected pediatrician, $300,000, plus attorney’s fees. The jury responded to the evidence and arguments from Waldman Barnett co-managing partner Glen Waldman and associate Benjamin Keime against Duane Morris, counsel for the plaintiff.

Dr. Guevara was being sued by contractor T&G Constructors, which alleged that he owed them substantial sums for a personal guaranty he had signed to release a lien on a construction project in the Orlando area. T&G also brought a claim for what it alleged was wrongful distribution of funds from the project to Dr. Guevara before the company received money to which it felt entitled.

Dr. Guevara’s counterclaim was based on an oral agreement he made with T&G for a flat fee of $50,000, that it would expeditiously assist to achieve the completion of the first phase of the project. The filing of the claim of lien delayed the closing on these units. Consequently, Dr. Guevara had to pay additional interest on the construction loan until the lien was lifted by the execution of the personal guarantee.

At the conclusion of the week-long trial, T&G asked the jury to award it damages with interest of $270,000 on the guaranty and additional damages for disbursed funds that T&G believed it should have received. Waldman, in his closing, asked the jury to award Dr. Guevara $174,000, the amount of additional interest he had to pay for the 62 days that the lien claim was of record, delaying the closing on the Phase I units.

During deliberations, the jury submitted a question to the court about whether it was bound by the amount that Waldman asked for, or, whether it could award more. The court’s written response to the jury, after consultation with counsel for both parties, was that it should award what it believed was a just amount based on the evidence presented. The jury then delivered its verdict of $300,000, plus attorney’s fees, to Dr. Guevara.

“We’re extremely pleased the jury sided in favor of Dr. Guevara and feel that justice was done,” Waldman said.

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