Miami-Dade County

Legal bills, court costs still rising in Miami developers’ jet-set lawsuit

Developer Ugo Colombo, CMC Group, at the sales center for his Brickell project Brickell Flatiron in Miami on Fri., June 12, 2015.
Developer Ugo Colombo, CMC Group, at the sales center for his Brickell project Brickell Flatiron in Miami on Fri., June 12, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

It’s been three years since a jury came down with a verdict in a sordid lawsuit over a private jet once shared by two of Miami’s flashiest developers, but the legal dispute between Ugo Colombo and Craig Robins continues to grow — as does the money owed by Robins’ Dacra Development Corporation.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Hanzman entered a final judgment stating that Dacra Development, an affiliate of Robins’ development corporation, owes Colombo and his CMC Group $1.5 million in legal fees and court costs. The judgment is in addition to a $1.5 million judgment the affiliate has owed since 2014, when a jury sided with Colombo and CMC.

“Dacra has not paid,” Jim Robinson, an attorney who represented Colombo, said in an interview. “Mr. Colombo and CMC are going to pursue all possible avenues to recover the judgments.”

Robins’ attorney, Dennis Richard, said the legal fees and court costs, laid out in an agreed order, “are settled only as to the amount.”

“The payment is still an issue in this never-ending litigation,” he said.

Mr. Colombo and CMC are going to pursue all possible avenues to recover the judgments

Jim Robinson, attorney for Ugo Colombo

The two developers have been at odds for nearly a decade, dating back to when Colombo, the developer behind the Epic Hotel, bought a $22 million Bombardier Challenger and brought in a company owned by Design District developer Robins to pick up half the tab. They shared the plane happily until about 2008, when Colombo said Robins took a round-the-world trip and refused to pay bills owed Turnberry Management, which the two developers had hired to manage the aircraft.

Turnberry sued Robins, who countersued and accused Colombo of reneging on a verbal agreement to buy the jet. Robins said Colombo had coerced Turnberry — owned by the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel’s Soffer family — to sue him in order to stick him with a hefty renovation bill.

Robins settled with Turnberry and filed a malicious-prosecution claim against Colombo, beginning a back-and-forth that continues to this day. Meanwhile, the Soffers filed affidavits saying they sued Robins as a favor to Colombo, who had secretly funded the litigation. They said Colombo wanted to force Robins — who has since married Jackie Soffer — to continue paying half the debt on the plane while Colombo kept it for his sole use.

Colombo’s attorneys countered that Robins’ company stopped paying its portion of the debt in 2011, leading Bank of America to sue Colombo and the corporation created to own the jet, UC Challenger LLC. Through bankruptcy proceedings, the jet was sold three years ago to Trinity Broadcasting of Florida for $9.55 million, but litigation over the plane continues.

As does the dispute between Colombo and Robins.

“This [judgment] is a diversion from Bank of America’s lawsuit against Mr. Colombo personally on his airplane loan,” said Richard.

Said Robinson: “Judgment day came and the result was Dacra ended up losing in every possible way.”

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