Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Brivik Lawsuit against Investors Is Dismissed

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Brivik Lawsuit against Investors Is Dismissed

Article excerpt

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a group of seven Southwest Florida investors who participated in an ill-fated, boom- time real estate deal with South African-born real estate investor Mark Brivik.

The investors reported Brivik to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after the project to develop 17 acres on the Upper Manatee River fell apart in late 2007.

The FDLE arrested Brivik in July 2009, alleging that he defrauded investors out of $4.5 million and sold securities without a license. Brivik spent 24 days in jail, but all the charges against him were later dropped.

In September 2011, Brivik sued both the investors and Claudia Law, the FDLE agent who arrested him, alleging that they filed bogus criminal charges against him.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington already had dismissed the claims against Law, but allowed Brivik to re-file civil claims against the seven investors: John and Steve Murray, Ronald Carr, Joe Russo, Andre Panet-Raymond, Richard Zimmerman and Abraham Smajovitz.

But on Oct. 9, the judge dismissed that suit as well.

Judge Hernandez Covington ruled that Brivik's attorney failed to prove that the investors conspired with the FDLE agent to bring false charges against Brivik.

"Merely reporting to the police is not a rare circumstance, and certainly is insufficient to establish a symbiotic relationship," the judge wrote in her court order. "If this were the case, every person who reported to the police would be deemed a state actor."

Even assuming the information provided to the FDLE agent was false, Brivik's claim would still fall short, the judge wrote: "The mere provision of information to Officer Law, even false information, does not constitute state action."

Brivik's attorney, Blake Horwitz, a Chicago lawyer who specializes in suing governments and law-enforcement agencies for heavy-handed and wrongful arrests, could not be reached for comment.

Judge Hernandez Covington dismissed the case with prejudice, which means Brivik cannot re-file it. …

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