Former mayor again amends his $3 million town lawsuit

Friday, November 17, 2017 0 Comments

Former Miami Lakes mayor Michael Pizzi amended his lawsuit against the town following a recent court’s decision to dismiss the litigation in which he’s seeking about $3 million in attorney’s fees from his criminal trial on federal public corruption charges in 2014.

It’s the third amended complaint that Pizzi’s lawyers filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court since he sued Miami Lakes in 2015.

The court gave Pizzi 20 days to amend his lawsuit after it rejected the complaint, and ruled that the former mayor would not be entitled to seek additional attorney’s fees in his case against the town. 

According to the court’s decision on October 13, its ruling was based on his federal indictment which doesn’t support an inference that he acted for a public purpose when Pizzi was arrested and put on trial for corruption but a jury acquitted him on all seven charges.

“Thus, the lawsuit has been refiled and remains pending on all counts,” Pizzi said in prepared statement. “We expect the lawsuit to be successful.”

On the issue of the court’s ruling that he cannot seek additional attorney’s fees, (judge’s order dismissed with prejudice), Pizzi said Miami Lakes claimed that Medley, where he worked as the town attorney at the time of his arrest, should pay half of the legal fees and be part of the lawsuit.

Town Attorney Raul Gastesi said the judge’s decision includes no additional attorney’s fees in Pizzi’s case against Miami Lakes.

“The ruling says he can no longer bring up that claim if he decided to amend the lawsuit,” Gastesi said.

Gastesi said the town would proceed to seek sanctions for “egregious” conduct in the case now that Pizzi filed a third amended lawsuit.

He said the former mayor has appeared at several depositions but refused to answer questions and ignored several court orders to turn over tape recordings and other evidence that are crucial to Miami Lakes’ defense.

But Pizzi, a lawyer, disputes his claim, saying he and his attorneys were prepared to answer questions, including at one deposition which was subsequently canceled by the town attorneys.

“I gave one deposition and my lawyers objected to some questions and said I would answer those questions after the Judge ruled on the objections, which happens every day, Pizzi said. “If Mr. Gastesi did not cancel my deposition, the other questions would have been answered. I did not refuse to answer questions at several depositions.”

Pizzi added: “In a combined 100 years of being lawyers, neither myself nor any of my lawyers have ever been found to have ignored any court order or violated any judge’s order, including this one.”

Pizzi and Miami Lakes have been embroiled in a legal dispute for nearly three years, and he had to sue Florida’s top elected official to get his job back following his acquittal.

Pizzi sued Governor Rick Scott in the Florida Supreme Court after he refused to reinstate him and subsequently sought litigation against Miami Lakes to force his return to Miami Lakes Town Hall.

The town settled his lawsuit for attorney fees in that case for about $400,000.

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