Michael A. Pizzi, Jr., Appellant,
Town of Miami Lakes, Florida, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower
Tribunal No. 15-19303 Mavel Ruiz, Judge.
& Reiner, P.A., and David P. Reiner, II and Samuel B.
Reiner, II; Kuehne Davis Law, P.A., and Benedict P. Kuehne
and Michael T. Davis and Susan Dmitrovsky; Jones Walker, LLP
and Edward R. Shohat; Dorta Law, and Gonzalo R. Dorta, for
Lydecker | Diaz and Joan Carlos Wizel and Onier Llopiz, for
SALTER, MILLER and GORDO, JJ.
A. Pizzi, Jr. ("Pizzi"), appeals a final order
dismissing with prejudice his second amended
complaint against the Town of Miami Lakes, Florida
("Town"). Pizzi sought reimbursement from the Town
of attorney's fees and costs, some $2, 510, 000.00,
allegedly incurred in his successful defense of criminal
charges brought against him by the United States for
conspiracy to commit extortion, attempted extortion, and
bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, while
serving as the municipal attorney for Medley, Florida, and as
the elected Mayor (at the time) of the Town. Pizzi was
acquitted following a jury trial and verdict in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in
on the exacting standard of review applicable to our review
of a final order dismissing a complaint with prejudice for
legal insufficiency, and at this preliminary procedural
juncture, we reverse the final order and remand the case to
the trial court for further proceedings. In doing so, we
express no opinion regarding the ultimate merit, or lack of
merit, of Pizzi's reimbursement claims.
Standard of Review
review a final order dismissing a complaint with prejudice
under the de novo standard of review. In doing so, we assume
all of the allegations in the complaint are true. We construe
all reasonable inferences from the allegations in favor of
[the Appellant]." Calderon v. Vasquez, 251
So.3d 303, 304 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018). Our review of the trial
court's interpretation of the Town's official Legal
Representation Policy ("Policy") is also de novo,
as it is essentially a contract for the benefit of designated
officials who meet the Policy's eligibility requirements.
See City of Winter Springs v. Winter Springs
Prof'l, 885 So.2d 494, 501 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004)
(concurring opinion of Ervin, J.).
Background and Procedural History
was elected Mayor of the Town in 2012. In 2013, the United
States filed the initial criminal charges against him for
alleged acts as the municipal attorney for Medley and as
Mayor of the Town. Pizzi was thereupon suspended from his
position as Mayor by the Governor of Florida pending
resolution of the charges.
criminal charges culminated in a second superseding
indictment (the "Indictment") of Pizzi by a grand
jury in February 2014. A jury acquitted Pizzi of all charges
in August 2014. After further state court legal proceedings,
Pizzi was reinstated to office in 2015. Slaton v.
Pizzi, 163 So.3d 655 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015).
August 2015, Pizzi's attorneys demanded that the Town
reimburse Pizzi for $2, 510, 000.00 in attorney's fees
and costs "for the year long criminal
representation." A week later, Pizzi filed an initial
complaint in the circuit court which included a copy of the
Indictment as Exhibit "A," a copy of the verdict
and final judgment of acquittal as Exhibit "B," and
two counts seeking reimbursement of attorney's fees and
costs incurred in his defense of the criminal case. The
initial complaint was dismissed with leave to amend, as was
the first amended complaint. In the first amended complaint,
Pizzi did not attach a copy of the Indictment, but did attach
as exhibits copies of a Town Resolution featured in the
Indictment (as an official action for ...