The lawyers for dethroned Miss Florida USA 2017 Genesis Davila are preparing a $3 million lawsuit against the Hollywood-based beauty pageant after organizers this week refused to reinstate her.
Davila’s lawyers gave pageant organizer TelAir until 4:30 p.m. Monday or face a lawsuit.
The deadline came and went, and TelAir boss Grant Gravitt handed the crown to Miss Sunny Isles Beach Linette De Los Santos because, he claimed, Davila cheated.
And now, Miami Beach beauty queen Davila appears to be angling for a legal showdown.
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“She could get at least $3 million in damages for this,” said Mayra Joli, a lawyer who has been involved in the case early on when the pageant allegedly accused Davila of not being an American citizen. “I’m an immigration lawyer, so I helped when they accused her of not being an American citizen. I managed opening the pageant’s eyes to the fact that Puerto Rico, where Genesis was born, is in the United States.
“But by making her look bad for other things, the pageant libeled her and slandered her and did things that could come back to haunt her in her modeling career for years.”
There’s no doubt the judges crowned Davila Miss Florida USA July 16 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
What happened next is strange and symptomatic of the competitiveness of beauty pageants where, like Miss Florida USA, the winner gets an endorsements and appearances package worth at least $100,000.
TelAir’s Gravitt said he started looking a little harder at Davila after he received “30 to 40 complaints” from other contestants and their family members about her after her big win.
“I get two or three (complaints), and it’s a fluke,” Gravitt says. “But I get 10 or more, it’s a fire.”
The complaints, he says, ranged from the fact Davila was spotted in the hotel lobby past midnight, a no-no for pageant beauties, to the possibility she used a makeup artist to get ready, another no-no.
In time, Gravitt says, he received two Instagram photos that appeared to indicate Davila received make-up help.
“The rules say a contestant must apply her own makeup, including doing her nails,” Gravitt said.
Gravitt said Davila was pushed aside before she signed the one-year Miss USA Florida endorsement contract and ticket to the Miss USA pageant.
“As far as we’re concerned, she was never really Miss Florida USA since she never signed on the dotted line,” Gravitt says. “Those are the rules, too.”
As for the threats of a lawsuit, Gravitt says it’s just sour grapes on the part of Davila and her advisers.
“Do you realize her lawyer Joli is a volunteer for the Miss America pagent?” Gravitt says. “They’re our arch-rivals, and there’s no doubt Ms. Joli wants to embarrass us.
“In the end of the day, they (Davila and her reps) asked us to look the other way simply because she is pretty,” Gravitt said. “We deal with a lot of pretty women, and we don’t look the other way.”