Music power couple Gloria and Emilio Estefan lost Wednesday when the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed part of a $5.8 million insurance award to a company suing over damage to their hurricane-battered hotel.
The Estefans’ Pin-Pon Corp. has been embroiled in a five-year legal battle with Landmark American Insurance Co. to recover on an insurance policy after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne tore through their Vero Beach hotel.
The couple bought a Howard Johnson fixer-up in 2004 before the storms hit with plans to renovate it, but after extensive hurricane damage, the then-32-year-old property was transformed into a boutique spot rebranded Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa.
The insurance dispute over repairs and lost income pitted Pin-Pon against its two companies, excess insurer Landmark and primary insurer Lexington Insurance Co., in a trial that yielded the Estefans’ company $903,000 for building damages, $1.5 million for building code upgrades beyond damages already paid and 15 months worth of lost income.
But the Fourth DCA reversed the $1.5 million portion of the award, ruling part of the evidence was inadmissible.
It ordered a new trial to set damages on code upgrades. The Estefans will not be allowed to use a disputed exhibit entered as a business record. It included 20 documents and an analysis performed by Pin-Pon’s architect, who testified the upgrades cost the hotel owner nearly $6.3 million.
The appeals court tossed the exhibit, finding Indian River Circuit Judge James W. Midelis had no basis to admit the evidence.
“We conclude that the error was not harmless,” Judge Carole Taylor wrote for a 2-1 majority. Judge Jonathan Gerber concurred, and Judge Robert Gross dissented.
Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin attorney Stephen Marino and colleague Rochelle Wimbush teamed with Curtis B. Miner and Barbara A. Silverman of Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables.
“This gives me the opportunity to focus the trial just on code upgrade damages and allow the jury to award more than the $1.5 million awarded in the first trial,” Marino said.
Scott Frank and Jared Krukar of Butler Pappas Weihmuller Katz Craig represented Landmark. They did not respond to a call for comment by deadline.
Read more: http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202714277425/4th-DCA-Ejects-Award-to-Gloria-and-Emilio-Estefans-Hotel-Company#ixzz3OEsI2nkD