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Partial Decision on Stadium Appeal

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Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2018 2:43 pm

La Ley Sports had big plans for Homestead’s old baseball stadium in 2011.

La Ley’s owner John H. Ruiz appeared several times before Homestead City Council to negotiate a deal for the derelict facility. The space was supposed to blossom as the site of competition between youth baseball teams from all over Florida. Other organized youth sports such as lacrosse were planned to follow.

Homestead and La Ley signed a lease-purchase agreement on July 14, 2011. Improvements were made to the stadium and baseball games were scheduled.

By December 15, 2012, La Ley Sports filed a five count legal complaint against the City. The complaint alleged fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation or omission, breach of contract, an equitable lien, and tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship.

Negotiations continued. The City alleged the business was carrying insufficient insurance and wasn’t paying its electric bills. To some, it looked like the City wanted to get rid of La Ley and keep the stadium improvements.

Homestead filed a counter-claim to the charges on May 28, 2014 asserting that the stadium lease was broken.

The trial court finally issued a decision on March 14, 2016. The judge found for the City on the issue of interference with a business relationship and granted summary judgment on that point. La Ley voluntarily released its count #5 claiming an equitable lien.

Both parties appealed the decision under the first three counts – Le Lay on the fraud claims and the City’s counterclaim; the City on the findings for the breach of contract issue.

Miami’s Third District Court of Appeal released its opinion on September 12, 2018. The three judge panel agreed with he trial judge on the fraud issues and the City’s counterclaim on the lease, dismissing those parts of the case. 

However, the judges highlighted a legal conflict in the underlying decision. The trial judge said Le Lay failed to prove a breach of the insurance contract by a preponderance of the evidence. In the same opinion, the trial judge later wrote that La Ley did prove an enforceable contract by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Appeals Court ordered a new trial to be held on Count #3 on the issue of whether the terms of the insurance contract were breached.

The on-going dispute between La Ley Sports and City of Homestead has narrowed yet continues.

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