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Laptopplaza, Inc. v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

June 19, 2019

Laptopplaza, Inc., etc., et al., Appellants,
v.
Wells Fargo Bank, NA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 14-12224, Reemberto Diaz, Judge.

          Law Offices of Charlton Stoner, P.A., and Charlton Stoner, for appellants.

          The Lehman Law Firm, PLLC, and Gary E. Lehman; Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel, and Beverly A. Pohl and Christina Lehm (Fort Lauderdale), for appellee.

          Before EMAS, C.J., and SALTER and SCALES, JJ.

          SCALES, J.

         Appellants, plaintiffs below, 345 Carnegie Avenue LLC ("345 Carnegie"), Iwebmaster.net, Inc. ("Iwebmaster") and Iwebmaster's successor, Laptopplaza, Inc., along with Vladimir Galkin and Yakov Baraz, appeal a December 12, 2017 order dismissing with prejudice their Second Amended Complaint against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for failure to state a cause of action. We dismiss the appeal as to appellants Laptopplaza and Iwebmaster as premature. We reverse and remand the dismissal order as to 345 Carnegie, Galkin and Baraz because we conclude that Florida recognizes a statutory cause of action for a lender's alleged deliberate inflation of the amounts "properly due under or secured by" a mortgage. § 701.04(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2014).

         I. RELEVANT FACTS[1] AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On or about December 14, 2007, 345 Carnegie executed a promissory note memorializing a loan from Wells Fargo's predecessor, Wachovia Bank, to 345 Carnegie in the amount of $1, 237, 500.00. This note was secured by a mortgage on commercial property owned by 345 Carnegie. As additional security for the note, Iwebmaster, along with Galkin and Baraz, executed separate guarantees of 345 Carnegie's obligations under the note. On November 16, 2012, Iwebmaster's successor, Laptopplaza, assumed Iwebmaster's guaranty obligation.

         On March 31, 2014, Wells Fargo, through counsel, declared appellants in default of the loan documents based on various alleged non-monetary defaults.[2] The default letter outlined the amounts Wells Fargo claimed were due and owing as a result of the alleged defaults as follows:

• Principal due in the amount of $1, 091, 744.24;
• Accrued and unpaid interest at the default rate in the amount of $1, 554.21, with a per diem accrual of $155.42; and
• Attorney's fees and costs through March 27, 2014, in the amount of $92, 910.79.

         In response to Wells Fargo's default letter, appellants, pursuant to section 701.04(1) of the Florida Statutes (2014), requested Wells Fargo to provide an estoppel letter itemizing the exact amount Wells Fargo claimed it was due. In response to appellants' request, Wells Fargo sent an April 21, 2014 estoppel ...


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