MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A recent set of decisions by Florida courts have set the grounds rules for the litigation between the companies of Davos Financial Group and its former employees Rodrigo Fernández and Andrés Sotillo.
What started as a RICO lawsuit two years ago, has been narrowed by the Florida court to a claim that an oral partnership existed between Andrés Sotillo and Rodrigo Fernández with David Osio of Davos Financial Group, which the plaintiffs allege entitles them to a share of the business operations owned by Osio family.
The trial court conducted a hearing on April 30, 2014 and granted the Davos group’s motion to dismiss the conspiracy claim that was the foundation of the lawsuit. After Davos’ lead counsel, Joseph DeMaria challenged the civil RICO claims at that hearing, and after the trial court expressed doubts about the validity of that claim, Sotillo and Fernández withdrew the civil RICO claim rather than face sanctions by continuing to purse that claim. Their counsel also withdrew other tort claims that had been challenged by DeMaria at that hearing.
DeMaria separately challenged the assertion of personal jurisdiction over foreign entities of the Davos Financial Group. Davos’ counsel relied on a recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, which limited the circumstances when a state court can exercise jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. The trial court accepted Plaintiffs’ representations that there were sufficient contacts in Miami for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendants. DeMaria filed an appeal challenging that decision and almost one year later, the Third District Court of Appeal chose not to disturb the trial court’s finding. The decision, which was without any written opinion, chose not to address the Constitutional issues implicated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
Davos’ counsel said that he was not surprised by this decision, at this stage of this case. Appellate courts affirm decisions like this, without written opinions, most of the time in Florida. We were required to raise this Constitutional issue to protect the foreign defendants. Davos’ counsel believes that when all the facts are presented at a full trial, the Court will then realize that Andrés Sotillo and Rodrigo Fernández had no basis to seek to extend jurisdiction over foreign entities that had no connection to Miami. DeMaria, explained, “This is just round one of this jurisdictional defense and Sotillo and Fernández risk wasting a lot of time and money pursuing claims that will eventually fail.
"Now that we have preserved the jurisdictional defense, we will turn our attention to defeating this bogus claim," DeMaria said. "The truth of this case is simple. Andrés Sotillo and Rodrigo Fernández were mere employees who were not partners of Mr. David Osio,” DeMaria said, “and they have no documentation to prove this so-called partnership claim.” DeMaria further explained that these employees were terminated when it was discovered that they were engaged in improper conduct. "The facts will prove that these employees were setting up their own business to compete with Davos," DeMaria said. “Sotillo even admitted under oath that he downloaded sensitive computer information from Davos’ server shortly before he was terminated.” His counsel has tried to use that information in this lawsuit. However, U.S. law makes it a crime to steal computer information and Sotillo’s misconduct will become a focus of upcoming hearings in this case.
After Sotillo and Fernández were terminated, Davos learned that these former employees engaged in a series of hidden transactions from which they derived illegal profits in the amount of $8 million. Those funds were syphoned out of Davos International Bank of Antigua, through a sophisticated network of entities. Davos also learned that Sotillo and Fernández engaged in self-lending practices from which they left the Antiguan Bank with more than $3 million dollars of outstanding debt. The Bank has sued Sotillo and Fernández in Antigua for this misconduct.
An external and independent forensic accounting report disclosed in the Antiguan litigation establishes that the funds syphoned by Sotillo and Fernández were funneled into the capitalization of Barnett Capital Bank. The computer information that Sotillo admitted downloading has also been used in a defamation campaign against Mr. David Osio and the Davos companies. Sotillo and Fernández engaged in this illegal campaign to try to steal clients away from their former employer. They fed misinformation to publishers, such as El Venezolano, which issued a formal retraction after the true facts were revealed.
Davos International Bank believed that Antigua is the proper jurisdiction to litigate Andrés Sotillo and Rodrigo Fernández’s claims and the Bank’s counterclaims. But, as DeMaria explained, since the trial court found that Florida is a proper jurisdiction to litigate these claims, and since the Appellate Court chose not to disturb that ruling, at least for now, the Davos entities will defeat Sotillo and Fernández’ meritless partnership claim and will countersue the former employees for their improper and illegal actions. Davos International Bank will continue to pursue Sotillo and Fernández for the damage they separately caused by their illegal conduct in Antigua.
“Plaintiffs asked the Florida courts to hear this case and now their wish will be fulfilled,” DeMaria said. “We will show the Court the duplicity of these former employees who used Davos Financial corporate information to establish their own competing business and then used this litigation in an effort to intimidate Mr. David Osio and to secure a monetary settlement. Frankly, it is commonplace for terminated employees to use litigation to try to hide their own inadequacies and wrongdoing. When the facts are revealed at trial, their claim will be defeated and they will be facing a significant monetary judgment that they will owe to their former employer.”