PUBLICIDAD VEPACO, C.A., and Latele Television C.A., Appellants,
Nelson MEZERHANE and Rogelio Trujillo, Appellees.
Denied December 5, 2019.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Bronwyn
C. Miller, Judge Lower Tribunal No. 11-42771.
Office of Mesa & Associates, P.A., and Manuel Arthur Mesa and
Matthew Carcano, Miami, Florida, for appellants.
Associates, P.A., and Elliot B. Kula and William D. Mueller,
Miami, Florida, for appellees.
LOGUE, SCALES, and GORDO, JJ.
the plaintiffs below, appeal the trial court's order
dismissing this case for lack of prosecution. We affirm.
case below, Publicidad Vepaco, C.A., and Latele Television
C.A., two Venezuelan corporations, sued Nelson Mezerhane and
Rogelio Trujillo, two Venezuelan nationals living in Florida
for fraud, conspiracy to defraud, conversion, conspiracy to
commit conversion, civil theft, and unjust enrichment. The
allegations stemmed from loans made available to the
plaintiffs by a bank principally owned by one of the
defendants. As the litigation proceeded, a dispute arose over
the control of the plaintiff corporations which led to
different attorneys claiming to represent the plaintiffs. Mr.
Andrew M. Kassier of Andrew M. Kassier, P.A., and Mr. Albert
J. Piantini of Piantini and Associates, P.A., maintained they
represented the plaintiffs. At the same time, Mr. Manuel
Arthur Mesa of the firm of Mesa & Associates, P.A. maintained
he represented the plaintiffs. In fact, at one point, the
defendants filed a motion to stay the proceedings until the
issue of control of the plaintiff corporations was resolved.
The plaintiffs opposed the motion, which was ultimately
denied by the trial court.
October 18, 2017, pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure
1.420(e), the defendants filed a notice that no record
activity had occurred since December 21, 2016. Plaintiffs
filed no record activity in response. On December 27, 2017,
the defendants filed their motions to dismiss for failure to
prosecute. After being continued at the request of the
plaintiffs, the hearing took place on January 31, 2018. The
trial court deferred ruling on the motions to dismiss and
concluded that an evidentiary hearing was necessary on the
issue of representation
and that the court would "also convene an evidentiary
hearing on the issue of good cause in conjunction with the
representation hearing." The trial further ruled that
the pleadings were "frozen" as to the good cause
evidentiary hearing was held on April 12, 2018. At the
hearing, the court determined that both sets of
plaintiffs' counsels — Mr. Kassier and Mr.
Piantini, and Mr. Mesa — were aligned in interest in
avoiding the dismissal and therefore, the court could
properly hear argument on the merits of the dismissal
motions. On May 8, 2018, the trial court entered a detailed
eleven-page order dismissing the case, without prejudice, for
lack of prosecution. The court ...