Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No 2nd Trial in Band Lawsuit

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No 2nd Trial in Band Lawsuit

Article excerpt

NO DAMAGES HEARING: Judge rules for attorney and against investor


Prominent local real estate attorney David Band will not have to face a new trial on an investor lawsuit over a botched Virgin Islands condominium project.

Sarasota Circuit Court Judge Charles Roberts ruled Monday that disgruntled investor Harold Libby is not entitled to a second trial to determine if Band owes any damages in the soured condo development -- capping a five-year legal fight between Band and Libby.

Libby sued Band in August 2008, claiming negligence and fraud led to more than $1 million in damages on the 48-unit Grande Bay condo project on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A jury in May 2011 exonerated Band of nearly all the allegations in the case. Band said Roberts' decision this week reaffirms that he was just a partner who also lost money in the deal -- not a legal representative for Libby, who said he considered Band his personal attorney.

"The jury found I have no responsibility whatsoever," Band said Tuesday. "In fact, I never represented him. I had no responsibility or liability to him. They put practically everything but the kitchen sink in this complaint, and it's totally false. It's very discouraging to me."

Libby in 2001 made an initial investment of $140,000 for a 10 percent stake in the St. John condos. But as the project's costs ballooned $45 million over budget, Libby's total contribution swelled to more than $1 million.

Libby was ultimately removed as a partner in Grande Bay -- and forced to forfeit his investment -- after he balked at providing additional capital.

Libby, whose company bought and developed large retail centers, testified at trial that he did not read important documents associated with Grande Bay. He said he instead relied on Band.

Band attorney Steven Hutton during the trial showed a series of "conflict waiver" letters Libby signed to demonstrate that Band had not represented him in the Grande Bay deal. …

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