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GLF Construction Corp. v. Credinform International, S.A.

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

August 16, 2017

GLF Construction Corporation, Appellant,
v.
Credinform International, S.A., Appellee.

         An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No. 15-17805, Peter R. Lopez, Judge.

          Ferencik Libanoff Brandt Bustamante & Goldstein and Ira Libanoff (Fort Lauderdale); Holland & Knight, Rodolfo Sorondo, Jr., and Rebecca M. Plasencia, for appellant.

          Foley & Lardner, Edmund T. Baxa, Jr., Natalia M. Salas, James A. McKee (Tallahassee) and Benjamin J. Grossman (Tallahassee), for appellee.

          Before SUAREZ, EMAS and LOGUE, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         ON APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR REHEARING AND/OR CLARIFICATION AND CORRECTION

         We deny appellant's motion for rehearing, but grant its motion for clarification and correction, withdraw the previously-issued opinion, and substitute the following corrected opinion in its stead.

         INTRODUCTION

         GLF Construction Corporation ("GLF"), a Florida corporation, appeals the trial court's denial of its motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. We affirm.

         Credinform International, S.A. ("Credinform"), a Bolivian insurance company, filed suit against GLF in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court for fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act ("FDUTPA").

         GLF moved to dismiss the complaint for forum non conveniens, asserting that Italy was a more appropriate forum. GLF also contended that the allegations against GLF were, in reality, allegations against GLF's parent company, Grandi Lavori, an Italian corporation, arising out of a construction project in Bolivia, and that GLF (a Florida corporation) was sued (instead of Grandi Lavori) to enable the action to be filed in Florida.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2007, the governments of Bolivia and Italy entered into an agreement by which the Italian government, through an agency called the Italian Cooperation, agreed to partially fund the construction of a dam on the Misicuni River in Bolivia. The funding was contingent upon the award of the construction contract to a consortium headed by an Italian contracting company. Empresa Misicuni, a Bolivian government-owned company, was in charge of overseeing the Misicuni Dam Project.

         In June 2008, Empresa Misicuni issued an invitation to bid on the Misicuni Dam Project, specifying that an Italian company must have a leadership position (51%) in the construction consortium. Several months later, Grandi Lavori, an Italian engineering and construction company, joined with a construction consortium, Consorcia Hidroelectrico Misicuni ("CHM"), together with several South American companies, for the purpose of bidding on the Misicuni Dam Project. Grandi Lavori has its principal place of business in Rome, but its subsidiary, GLF (the defendant below), is a Florida corporation. Francisco Senis, an employee of Grandi Lavori and the Vice President of GLF, resides in Florida, but has dual citizenship in Italy and America. In July 2008, Grandi Lavori's president, Alessandro Mazzi, executed a power of attorney in Rome, appointing Senis to represent Grandi Lavori related to its business and projects in South America.

         On November 2008, Senis executed a power of attorney in the Bolivian embassy in Miami, in favor of Martin Rovira Rada ("Rovira"), a Bolivian resident, authorizing Rovira to represent Grandi Lavori in the CHM consortium. Rovira later signed the CHM Organizational Agreement, in December 2008, which provides that Grandi Lavori has a fifty-one percent ownership interest in the CHM consortium. Rovira listed GLF's Miami address as the address for Grandi Lavori.

         The CHM consortium was awarded the Misicuni Dam Project in January 2009. The successful bidder was required to provide Empresa Misicuni with an advance payment bond and a performance bond issued by a Bolivian insurance company. Rovira contacted Credinform to this purpose, and sent Credinform the necessary information, including the CHM Organizational Agreement, which, importantly, indicated that Grandi Lavori had a fifty-one percent ownership interest in the CHM consortium.

         On March 30, 2009, Grandi Lavori's president executed a new power of attorney in Rome, authorizing Rovira to act on behalf of Grandi Lavori for purposes of CHM and the Misicuni Dam Project. Thereafter, Credinform issued the advance payment bond and the performance ...


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