MIAMI, Fla. December 20, 2016 — An intriguing plot —- centered around a historic Key West hotel, and a business deal gone awry, and buoyed by small-town politics —- unfolded and twisted in the after-midnight hours of December 1st, calling Heller Waldman founding attorney Glen Waldman to the island in defense of his client, Remington Lodging & Hospitality, Inc., and its general manager.
Minutes after midnight, police officers awoke the general manager, sleeping at the Southernmost House Hotel, and demanded that he leave the property at once, under the threat of arrest for violating an order from the Key West City Manager (and not a Judge from a court of competent jurisdiction). After daybreak the next day and accompanied by Glen Waldman and other Remington employees, the general manager returned to the hotel to understand why such drastic action had transpired. But instead of a discussion, officers from the Key West Police Department arrested the general manager for trespassing, handcuffed him and took him to jail.
This TV-show-worthy plot stems from the hotel’s shaky start for a few years following its purchase in 2002. The fledgling hotel in 2009 turned to Remington, which successfully operates numerous hotels locally and nationally, to take over the hotel’s daily operations. Despite significant improvements to business operations, substantial profits and a rebounding reputation, the hotel’s president sought to have the Court determine whether he could terminate the management agreement for alleged breaches by Remington in a lawsuit ongoing since 2015 in Key West Circuit Court.
With the arrest of the general manager, as reported by the Miami Herald
, the Heller Waldman litigation team, led by Glen Waldman and Michael Azre, jumped into action and filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the hotel principal, Key West’s City Attorney Shawn Smith (who ordered the police to participate in the late night takeover and continue to enforce it), the City of Key West and the Key West Police Department. The complaint spells out nine counts against the defendants, ranging from Section 1983 federal violations of Remington’s and the general manager’s due process and civil rights, to violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, to fraud, and civil theft.
“It is beyond comprehension to see a City Attorney supplanting a judge, making a determination on the merits of an ongoing civil dispute between two private parties, ordering the police to do his bidding and forcibly ejecting my client from the Hotel without any process under the law. This is a hotel that Remington has been managing successfully for over 7 years, pursuant to a valid management agreement that had years left,” Glen Waldman said. “We very much are looking forward to our day in federal court to expose these extra legal actions taken in Key West and permit the rule of law, on which this country is founded, to prevail.”