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Agudelo v. Padron

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

August 14, 2019

John Agudelo and Yellow Project Management, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
Jose M. Padron, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ROBERT N. SCOLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs John Agudelo and Yellow Project Management, Inc. bring this suit for breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and fraud against Defendant Jose M. Padron in relation to a 2012 real estate transaction. The Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all counts of the Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 53.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 53.)

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Agudelo and Defendant Padron are from Venezuela. That is about all they can agree on in this case. After a careful review of the parties' depositions, the Court will summarize the facts as presented by the parties.

         According to the Plaintiff, he and the Defendant met at a social gathering at a mutual friend's home in Venezuela. (Agudelo Deposition Transcript, 14:4-11, ECF No. 51-1.) The Plaintiff testified that this occurred in approximately 2013 or 2014 (id. at 14:2-4) but the complaint alleges that this meeting occurred in 2011. (ECF No. 37 at ¶ 10.) The mutual friend is Eugen Sader Bejarano.[1]Sader Bejarano told the Plaintiff that the Defendant and/or his father were real estate agents in Florida. (ECF No. 51-1 at 17:23-18:3.) The Plaintiff wanted to purchase an investment property in Miami so he “solicited Mr. Padron's counsel.” (Id. at 18:10-12.) According to the Plaintiff's testimony, he called Padron and they had a conversation about the investment and Padron “agreed to look for different options and started sending them to [Agudelo] via email.” (Id. at 19:12-15.) Agudelo testified that since Padron's father was the one with the real estate business in Florida, “he [was] the one doing the proceedings.” (Id. at 20:4-6.) Padron's father, also named Jose M. Padron (“Padron Senior”), is a Re/Max agent. (Id. at 36:12-17.)

         The Defendant recommended that the Plaintiff incorporate a Florida LLC to purchase the property. (ECF No. 55-1 at ¶ 15.) Padron would serve as the manager of the Florida LLC and manage the property on Agudelo's behalf. (Id. at ¶ 16.) The Florida LLC, Yellow Project Management, is not a party in this case. Padron hired attorney Dennis Ponn to facilitate the purchase and closing of the property. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Agudelo signed a Closing Authorization authorizing Padron, as the manager of the Florida LLC, to “approve and sign all closing documents, including the closing statement, on behalf of the [Florida LLC].” (ECF No. 55-1 at Exhibit C.) Agudelo wired the purchase price of $1.6 million to attorney Ponn's escrow account and the Florida LLC purchased Unit 4104 at the Jade in Miami Beach. (ECF No. 55-1 at ¶14.) The funds were wired from a company owned by Agudelo: Yellow Project Management, Inc., a British Virgin Islands company, also a Plaintiff in this case. (ECF No. 51-1 at 33:9-22.) Yellow Project Management, Inc. is a company that consults for Chinese companies doing infrastructure projects for the Venezuelan government.[2] According to Agudelo's testimony, the Venezuelan government pays the Chinese in oil and the Chinese pay their contractors and consultants in dollars. (Id. at 51:22-52:15; 132:7-11.) Agudelo is the sole shareholder of the BVI company. (Id. at 33:15-22.)

         After the apartment was purchased, it is unclear who was paying the maintenance expenses and taxes. Agudelo testified that “[a]ll that was being done by Padron.” (Id. at 55:22-23.) He also testified that “I know Mr. Padron paid them. And I also know that, in good part, he was given the money to pay that.” (Id. at 57:22-25.) When asked who would have given Padron the money, Agudelo responded, Eugen Sader Bajarano. (Id. at 58:1-2.) According to Agudelo, Sader Bajarano was living in the apartment for about two to three years. (Id. at 58:15-16.) Agudelo never lived in the apartment. (Id. at 59:10-12.)

         According to the Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Facts, in December 2017, “Padron Jr. transferred titled to the property from [the Florida LLC] to himself, individually, and shortly thereafter transferred the property to Valizas Corporation.” (ECF No. 55 at ¶ 58.) Agudelo never received proceeds from the sale of the property. (Id.) When asked about this, Agudelo testified that he went to Padron's office in Miami in February 2018 “to see what happened with that sale that was done without my knowledge whatsoever.” (ECF No. 51-5 at 64:12-16.) But when asked if he “fl[ew] into Miami, specifically, to meet with Mr. Padron, ” Agudelo responded, “No.” (Id. at 9-11.)

         During this meeting, Agudelo told Padron that Sader Bejarano needed money and he (Agudelo) had come to speak to him on behalf of Sader Bejarano. (Id. at 66:6-11.) Agudelo also asked Padron about the apartment:

Q: And you never asked anything about the Jade apartment, when you were in the meeting with Mr. Padron at JM Honda, did you?
A: Of course. I asked him. I asked him, what happened with that; and I asked him, why it was done that way and what they were going to do with that money.
Q: Who is the “they” you are talking about?
A: What he was going to do with that money, because that property was sold. And why weren't those monies returned to Yellow. . . .
Q: And what did he say to you?
A: That he had to fix personal accounts; that he had several problems with his finances and with taxes and that he needed time to resolve them. We started talking, regarding how much time he needed to solve that situation. And then, after that, the conversation was finished.

(ECF No. 51-1 at 67:8-68:7.) Agudelo visited the Defendant a second time to pick up a power of attorney for an apartment in Caracas, Venezuela that he was instructed to give Bejarano Sader. (Id. at 74:9-75:12.)

Q: It is your understanding that there was a business deal between Mr. Padron and Mr. Eugen, for Mr. Padron to sell him the apartment in Caracas and, therefore, Mr. Sader needed to complete the deal with a ...

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