GOZZO DEVELOPMENT, INC., and GREGORY GOZZO, an individual, Appellants,
ANNE M. ESKER, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Thomas Barkdull, III and Richard L.
Oftedal, Judges; L.T. Case No. 50-2005-CA-011607-XXX-MB.
Michael A. Monteverde and Daniel B. Allison of Bressler Amery
& Ross, P.C., Fort Lauderdale, for appellants.
S. Pellegrino and Jacqueline S. Miller of Broad and Cassel
LLP, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
case involves a civil contempt arising out of a construction
defects case commenced in 2005. We affirm the finding of
contempt in all respects. Because the compensatory fine
imposed included losses not caused by the underlying
contempt, we reverse for a new hearing on the amount of the
compensatory fine imposed.
nine years of litigation, the circuit court issued an order
setting a non-binding summary jury trial and mediation.
Appellant Gregory Gozzo was affiliated with both a remodeling
company and a developer that had been named as defendants.
attended the summary jury trial as the representative of the
remodeling company and the developer. The summary jury trial
produced a favorable outcome for the plaintiffs.
later mediation, the defendants sent a woman who was not a
corporate representative and who did not have the authority
to settle on behalf of the defendants.
circuit judge issued an order to show cause to the defendants
as to why they should not be held in contempt for failing to
comply with the court's order regarding the person who
was required to attend mediation. For each party to the
lawsuit, the mediation order required the presence of a
person with authority to settle the case.
hearing on the order to show cause, Gozzo explained that the
woman he sent to the mediation was a home health aide who had
served as a caregiver for Gozzo's elderly father during
the time prior to his father's death, had worked
sixteen-hour days, and was always on time. Gozzo acknowledged
that she never held a position with the company but testified
that he gave her verbal authority to settle. The home health
aide said that Gozzo told her nothing about the case until
after her attendance at mediation and that she did not have
authority to settle. Gozzo testified that he did not attend
the mediation because he had "other things" to do
and "other business" on his plate.
circuit court found the defendants in contempt; as sanctions,
the court struck defense pleadings and ruled that the
plaintiff was entitled to recover attorney's fees and
costs "related" to (1) preparation for and
attendance at the summary jury trial, (2) attendance at
mediation, (3) preparation of motions for sanctions and
preparation for and attendance at all hearings related to
those motions, and (4) depositions taken in advance of the
defendants appealed the portion of the order striking the
pleading. This court affirmed the imposition of the sanction.
See Gozzo Development, Inc. v. Professional Roofing
Contractors, Inc., 211 So.3d 145 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).
successor judge presided over the hearing on the
plaintiff's attorney's fees and costs. That judge
entered judgment for $122, 518.78 in attorney's fees ...