I. BACKGROUNDThe following facts are set forth in the Third District‟s decision:
De Saad is the former vice-president and general manager of Banco [Industrial de Venezuela]‟s Miami agency, BIV. As part of an undercover sting operation involving a U.S. Customs confidential informant, de Saad was alleged to have facilitated the deposit of approximately $4 million in drug proceeds into BIV accounts. On May 19, 1998, the United States charged de Saad with ten counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money while acting in her capacity as the vice-president of BIV. De Saad retained the services of attorney Beeler to represent her in the criminal proceedings. As part of their fee agreement, de Saad assigned Beeler her right to seek indemnification for attorney‟s fees and costs under sections 607.0850(1) and (3), Florida Statutes . . . . After a lengthy trial in which the jury found her guilty on all counts, the trial judge granted de Saad‟s motion for judgment of acquittal as to all counts finding that the United States had failed to prove all of the necessary elements of the alleged crimes. The United States filed an appeal of the trial court‟s acquittal. Seven months after her acquittal, de Saad was charged and pled guilty to one count of money structuring on the condition that the government drop the appeal of the judgment of acquittal on the money laundering and conspiracy charges. The government dropped the appeal. De Saad then sought from BIV her past wages pursuant to her contract of employment and also sought indemnification for attorney‟s fees incurred in her defense of the money laundering and conspiracy charges. BIV denied both claims.Banco, 21 So. 3d at 47-48 (footnotes omitted).
De Saad then filed the present state court action against BIV. Her amended complaint seeks statutory indemnification pursuant to section 607.0850 to recover the costs and attorney‟s fees in defending the money laundering charges and claims past wages based on breach of her Employment Contract with BIV. Beeler filed a complaint in intervention based on the assigned right to attorney‟s fees and costs in defending de Saad on the money laundering charges. De Saad, Beeler and BIV moved for summary judgment on the indemnification claims. The trial court entered summary judgment on liability in favor of de Saad and Beeler on the statutory indemnification counts. The trial court held a bench trial on indemnification damages and awarded de Saad $2,895,096.41 on the indemnification claim and Beeler $1,636,168.13. Following the bench trial, both sides moved for summary judgment on the breach of contract claims. . . . On the breach of contract claims, the trial court entered final summary judgment in favor of de Saad and Beeler and awarded $1,058,023.82 to de Saad exclusively.
On appeal, BIV contended that summary judgment in favor of de Saad and Beeler on the indemnification claim was improper because a question remained as to whether the statutory requirements of indemnification were satisfied. Id. at 48. However, applying a Delaware case interpreting a Delaware indemnification statute, the Third District affirmed the trial court, explaining that “de Saad was prosecuted „by reason of the fact‟ that she was [a] director, officer, employee, or agent of the corporation and was acquitted because she was „successful on the merits or otherwise.‟ ” Id. at 49 (quoting § 607.0850(1), (3), Fla. Stat.).
Judge(s): Ricky Polston
Jurisdiction: Florida Supreme Court
Related Categories: Damages , Employment
|Supreme Court Judge(s)|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Mark Cheskin||Hogan Lovells|
|Jessica Ellsworth||Hogan Lovells|
|Brian Lerner||Hogan Lovells|
|Carol Licko||Hogan Lovells|
|Richard Lorenzo||Hogan Lovells|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Mark Hicks||Hicks Porter Ebenfeld & Stein PA|
|Shannon Kain||Hicks Porter Ebenfeld & Stein PA|
|Dinah Stein||Hicks Porter Ebenfeld & Stein PA|
|Eugene Lindsey, III||Katz Barron Squitero Faust Friedberg English & Allen PA|
|William Petros||Petros & Elegant|
|Catherine Christie||William Richey PA|
|William Richey||William Richey PA|