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Platinum Luxury Auctions, LLC v. Concierge Auctions, LLC

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

August 16, 2017

Platinum Luxury Auctions, LLC, Trayor Lesnock, and Kevin Vaughn, Appellants,
v.
Concierge Auctions, LLC, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 14-8459 William Thomas, Judge.

          Tripp Scott, P.A., and Ryan H. Lehrer and Paul O. Lopez (Fort Lauderdale), for appellants.

          Carey Rodriguez Milian Gonya, LLP, and Patrick E. Gonya, Jr., for appellee.

          Before LAGOA, SALTER, and FERNANDEZ, JJ.

          LAGOA, J.

         The appellants, Platinum Luxury Auctions, LLC ("PLA"), Trayor Lesnock ("Lesnock"), and Kevin Vaughn ("Vaughn") (collectively, the "Appellants"), appeal the trial court's order granting appellee, Concierge Auctions, LLC's ("Concierge"), motion to enforce settlement agreement. Because the trial court erred in finding that Appellants violated the Non-Disparagement provision of the parties' Confidential Settlement Agreement, we reverse.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         PLA and Concierge are acknowledged rivals in the auction business. On April 1, 2014, Concierge filed suit against PLA, Lesnock, and Vaughn alleging claims for, among other things, defamation, violation of the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, tortious interference with business relationships, and conspiracy. Concierge alleged that Lesnock, using a pseudonym, posted negative comments about Concierge in the comments section of a January 22, 2014, online magazine article about Concierge's unsuccessful auction of a home in Highland Park, Illinois. Lesnock admitted in his deposition testimony that he was the author of the negative comments, which were posted on or about January 27, 2014 (the "January 27 blog post").

         On September 5, 2014, Concierge, PLA, Lesnock, and Vaughn executed a Confidential Settlement Agreement (the "Settlement Agreement"). The Settlement Agreement set forth in detail the contents of Lesnock's January 27 blog post. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Appellants agreed to publish, within fifteen days from the execution of the Settlement Agreement, a retraction of the January 27 blog post. In accordance with these terms, on September 14, 2014, the Appellants published a retraction of the January 27 blog post on the relevant magazine's website.

         The Settlement Agreement also contained a provision (the "Non-Disparagement Provision") in which the Appellants agreed not to make any defamatory, disparaging, or critical statements, written or verbal, about Concierge after execution of the Settlement Agreement. The Non-Disparagement Provision states, [1] in pertinent part:

3. Non-Disparagement.
a. Defendants acknowledge and agree that the professional, business and personal reputations of Plaintiff and its employees, directors, and officers are important and should not be impaired by Defendants after this Agreement is executed. Therefore, Defendants agree not to make any statements, written or verbal, or cause or encourage others to make any statements, written or verbal, that defame, disparage or in any way criticize the personal ...

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