final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, No. 17-4616Jose M. Rodriguez, Judge.
Law, P.A., and Edward H. Davis, Jr. and Annette C. Escobar,
Rodriguez Milian Gonya, LLP, and Amy M. Bowers-Zamora and
David M. Levine, for appellee.
LAGOA, EMAS and SCALES, JJ.
S.A., a Panamanian company claiming an interest in property
subject to the garnishment proceedings below, appeals the
trial court's non-final order denying Villamorey's
motion for protective order. We affirm the order on appeal
because Villamorey was properly made a party to the
RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
BDT Investments, Inc. ("BDT"), obtained a
Panamanian judgment against Lisa, S.A. ("Lisa"),
and subsequently filed an action in the circuit court below
to domesticate the foreign judgment. Upon learning that the
Miami branch of Banco Santander International
("Bank") may be holding, in a Villamorey account at
Bank, over $13 million in funds allegedly owed to Lisa by
Villamorey, BDT served Bank with a writ of garnishment.
responded by answering the writ and moving to dismiss the
writ. In its answer, Bank generally denied the writ's
allegations, and identified Villamorey as the account
holder. Pursuant to section 77.06(3) of the
Florida Statutes (2017),  however, Bank's answer specifically
alleged that Bank was in doubt as to whether the Villamorey
account was subject to BDT's garnishment writ; thus, Bank
froze the Villamorey account.
replied to Bank's answer to the writ of garnishment,
attaching an independent report prepared for Villamorey that
audited Villamorey's financial statements. BDT contended
that the audit report evidenced a dividend in excess of $13
million declared by Villamorey and payable to Lisa,
Villamorey's minority shareholder. BDT claimed that these
dividend funds, held in the Villamorey account at Bank,
actually belonged to Lisa, and therefore were subject to
BDT's garnishment. Pursuant to section 77.055 of the
Florida Statutes (2017),  BDT provided a copy of Bank's
answer to Villamorey and notified Villamorey that, in order
to dissolve the writ of garnishment directed towards its
account at Bank, Villamorey must file a motion to dissolve
the writ within twenty days.
receipt of BDT's notice, Villamorey filed a motion to
dissolve BDT's writ pursuant to section 77.07(2) of the
Florida Statutes (2017). In this motion, Villamorey claimed,
inter alia, that: (i) Villamorey does not owe any
debt to BDT; (ii) the legal presumption is that a bank
account is owned by the entity named on the account (i.e.,
Villamorey); (iii) BDT failed to overcome this legal
presumption because the audit report upon which BDT relied
did not establish any ownership interest of Lisa in the
Villamorey account at Bank; and (iv) BDT's foreign
judgment against Lisa was a sham because, among other things,
BDT and Lisa were related entities, owned by the same parent
company, and represented by the same counsel.
propounded discovery on Villamorey with respect to the writ
of garnishment. Specifically, BDT served Villamorey with a
request for admissions, a request for production of
documents, and also sought to depose Villamorey's
corporate representative. Villamorey then filed the instant
motion ("Villamorey's Motion") seeking to quash
BDT's discovery or, in the alternative, for a protective
order. Villamorey's Motion raises several general grounds
as to why it is not subject to discovery, but, of consequence
to this opinion, is Villamorey's argument that because
the trial court lacks personal jurisdiction over it, it is
not a party to the garnishment proceedings and, therefore, it
cannot be compelled to respond to BDT's discovery.
August 3, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on
Villamorey's Motion and, noting that Villamorey intended
to participate fully in court-ordered mediation and at trial,
entered a discovery order rejecting ...