The operator of Homestead’s baseball stadium is once again behind on more than $162,000 of utility and insurance bills.
The city is locked in a legal battle with the operator, in part, over the bills. The operator, La Ley Sports, filed a class action lawsuit against the city in May, claiming that Homestead overbills its utility customers.
A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge dismissed the case in October and gave La Ley a chance to re-file its complaint because of issues with the way it was originally filed, Homestead’s attorneys said. La Ley has filed an amended complaint which Homestead’s attorneys have again asked a judge to dismiss, in part because the lawyers still believe there are problems with the way the case has been filed.
Meanwhile, La Ley’s bills have stacked up.
The sports organization, owned by Miami Spanish-language TV lawyer John H. Ruiz, owes about $118,000 in utility bills as of Nov. 26, according to city documents. His group owes about $45,000 in insurance bills, according to the city.
Ruiz’s company has been behind on its utility bills essentially since it first took over the stadium in July 2011.
But Ruiz has argued that he was never past-due because he never owed the money in the first place, because Homestead overbilled him.
The city in April admitted that it did, in fact, accidently overbill La Ley by $22,000 for a dumpster that wasn’t even on the property. But taking into account the overbilling, Ruiz’s company still owed $3,000 in past-due utility bills at the time.
Karen Barnet-Backer, who is representing La Ley in the case, did not return an email for comment and did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
In a separate lawsuit, La Ley has sued the city for fraud and breach of contract because of disagreements between the two sides over their rental agreement. The relationship between the company and the city soured quickly after La Ley tried to get out of paying insurance premiums for the stadium. The city refused to waive the $10,000-a-month bill.
“The city’s position is that he now owes upwards of $100,000,” said Michael Popok, one of the attorneys representing Homestead in both cases.
The lawsuit stemming from the lease disagreements is still pending.
The suits have been “relatively dormant,” Popok said.
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