final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Petition for Writ of Certiorari from the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 16-8682 Norma S.
Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez, P.A., and Andrew S. Berman, for
Lamb, Hall & Leto, and Andrew C. Hall, Matthew P. Leto,
and Vanessa Palacio, for respondents.
SUAREZ, LOGUE, and SCALES, JJ.
case below, Jeremy Alters and his law firm are being sued by
former clients. Alters moved to recuse the former
clients' lawyers, Andrew Hall and his firm, because Hall
had previously represented both Alters and Alters's
former clients in unrelated matters. The trial court denied
Alters's motion to recuse. Alters now petitions for a
writ of certiorari to quash the order denying recusal. We
deny the petition.
2008, Jeremy Alters was retained to represent two brothers,
Gustavo and Alfredo Villoldo, in a lawsuit against Fidel
Castro, the Republic of Cuba, and others for acts of
terrorism. Alters obtained a judgment in state court for over
$1.1 billion. The judgment, however, contained defects that
made it uncollectable under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1605. Upon learning of this problem,
the Villoldos terminated Alters and retained Hall to correct
the judgment. After the Villoldos hired Hall to correct
Alters's work, Alters also hired Hall to represent him in
a case in which two Argentine nationals were suing Alters for
a share of the fees in a $410 million class action against
Bank of America.
mid-August of 2011, as he was about to obtain the corrected
judgment in the Cuba case, and while still representing both
parties in unrelated matters, Hall reminded a lawyer in
Alters's law firm that no charging lien had yet been
filed in the Cuba case. Alters testified, and the trial judge
found, that Hall was not representing Alters's law firm
during that call. The Alters firm duly filed a charging lien
later that month. On the same day, Hall obtained the
corrected final judgment in the Cuba matter.
20, 2013, in his capacity as the Villoldos's attorney,
Hall sent Alters a letter disputing Alters's charging
lien. "My client has instructed, " Hall wrote,
"that if you do not respond by the close of business
tomorrow or should you insist on the Charging lien being
enforced, the Villoldo Defendants will be compelled to
vigorously resist that Charging Lien." At the time, it
appears Hall was still representing Alters in the Bank of
America class action dispute. On November 25, 2013, Hall
wrote Alters saying he could no longer represent him in the
Bank of America matter because Alters was holding itself out
as co-counsel with Hall on the case involving the correction
of the Cuba judgment despite having been previously
terminated by the Villoldos.
December 20, 2013, Alters entered into a settlement agreement
with the Villoldos over the charging lien. The agreement
provided that he be paid $175, 000 immediately, and later, a
percentage of the total amount collected once the
relationship between the United States and Cuba normalized,
Cuba was taken off the list of terrorist nations, and the
State Department directed a payment be made. The agreement
contained language indicating that certain conditions be
completed "through the efforts of Jeremy Alters" or
his law firm. Hall did not represent either party in the
dispute or the settlement.
March 6, 2016, the Villoldos filed the complaint in the
instant case against Alters seeking a declaratory judgment
that Alters had no right to further compensation under the
settlement agreement. Hall represented the Villoldos in that
action. Alters and his firm responded by moving to recuse
Hall. The trial court held an extensive evidentiary hearing,
made detailed ...