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Branch Banking and Trust Co. v. Crystal Centre, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

February 26, 2018

BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
CRYSTAL CENTER, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          AMANDA ARNOLD SANS ONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is Branch Banking and Trust Company's (“BB&T”) Motion for Final Judgment in Garnishment Regarding Garnishee CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A., (Doc. 291), the Response in Opposition (Doc. 304) filed by Oswald Carrerou and non-party Leah Carrerou, and BB&T's Reply (Doc. 334).

         I. Background

         This matter comes before the undersigned in relation to a judgment against Mr. Carrerou for $927, 149.53 plus post-judgment interest (Doc. 45) and a subsequent award of attorney's fees and costs for $64, 918.35. (Doc. 103). Soon after, the Clerk entered judgment and BB&T began collection efforts.

         On August 25, 2016, the court issued a writ of garnishment against CenterState Bank. (Doc. 54). CenterState Bank served an answer to the writ of garnishment. (Doc. 78). BB&T now seeks final judgment in garnishment as to two accounts held by CenterState Bank. (Doc. 291).

         The court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion, which took place on November 13, 2017, and December 15, 2017. (Docs. 351, 354). On the first day of the hearing, Mr. Carrerou[1]presented testimony from five witnesses, all of whom are current tenants at rental properties owned by non-party limited liability companies that are in turn owned by the Carrerous. (Doc. 351, pp. 68-149). Mr. Carrerou also presented numerous documents intending to show how the Carrerous deposited the tenants' security deposits into the CenterState Bank account ending in xxx756. (Id. at 81).

         On the second day of the evidentiary hearing, Mr. Carrerou only presented testimony from Mrs. Carrerou. (Doc. 354). This time, Mr. Carrerou introduced even more documents intending to show that their non-party limited liability companies owned the xxx756 account and operated the account as part of renting properties out to tenants. (See, e.g., Id. at 10-26). BB&T presented evidence intending to show inconsistencies between Mrs. Carrerou's testimony that the xxx756 account consisted only of tenants' security deposits and documents showing deposits from other Carrerou-owned companies into the account. (Id. at 244-60, Def.'s Composite Ex. 5).

         II. Procedural History

         1. On August 4, 2016, the Clerk of Court entered a final judgment against Mr. Carrerou for $927, 149.53, plus post-judgment interest. (Doc. 45). On July 25, 2017, upon the joint stipulation of BB&T, Mr. Carrerou, Mrs. Carrerou, and another Garnishee, Citizens Bank & Trust (Doc. 278), the undersigned granted final judgment in garnishment on the writ against Garnishee Citizens Bank & Trust for $5, 841.18. (Doc. 281). Therefore, $921, 308.35 of the awarded judgment, plus post-judgment interest, remains outstanding.[2]

         2. Mrs. Carrerou is not a party to the judgment against her husband Mr. Carrerou.

         3. Peter Carrerou, Mr. and Mrs. Carrerou's son, is not a party to the judgement against Mr. Carrerou.

         4. Luxury Apartment Living, LLC, Mid Horizon Investments, LLC, and Carrerou Enterprises (“Carrerou Non-Party LLCs”) are not parties to the judgment against Mr. Carrerou.

         5. On August 19, 2016, BB&T submitted an ex parte motion for writs of garnishment (Doc. 49), which the court granted on August 24, 2016. (Doc. 52).

         6. On August 25, 2016, the court issued a writ of garnishment against Garnishee CenterState Bank. (Doc. 54)

         7. BB&T served the writ of garnishment on CenterState Bank on August 29, 2016. (Doc. 291, Ex. B).

         8. That same day, BB&T served on Mr. Carrerou a claim of exemption notice, pursuant to Section 77.041 of the Florida Statutes. (Doc. 291, Ex. A).

         9. On September 1, 2016, CenterState Bank served its answer to the writ of garnishment with a motion to freeze a bank account at Wells Fargo held in Peter Carrerou's name (Doc. 78).

         10. In its answer, CenterState Bank stated that Mr. Carrerou maintained two accounts there: one account ending in xxx756 and one account ending in xxx230. (Doc. 78, p. 2). Both accounts were titled in the names of Mr. Carrerou, Mrs. Carrerou, and Peter Carrerou. (Id.).

         11. On August 29, 2016, the xxx756 account had a balance of $138, 147.55 and the xxx230 account had a balance of $9, 331.09. (Doc. 78, pp. 3-4).

         12. Despite the court issuing the writ of garnishment, CenterState Bank permitted Mrs. Carrerou to purchase, in knowing violation of the writ of garnishment, a cashier's check for $137, 147.55 and made payable to “Oswald and Leah Carrerou” with funds from the xxx756 account. (Doc. 78, pp. 2-4).

         13. That cashier's check was then used to purchase another cashier's check in the same amount ($137, 147.55), but made payable to Peter Carrerou. (Id.) CenterState Bank also allowed three checks to clear the xxx230 account before placing a garnishment hold on the account. (Id. at 4).

         14. Consequently, by the time CenterState Bank submitted its verified answer on September 1, 2016, the xxx756 account only had a balance of $1, 000.00 and the xxx230 account had a balance of $5, 304.19. (Doc. 78, p. 2).

         15. As part of its answer, CenterState Bank also moved to freeze the $137, 147.55 deposited into Peter ...


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