Holland & Knight Secures Win for Subway Co-Founder in Land Deal Dispute
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (February 13, 2017) – Holland & Knight successfully represented the estate of Subway restaurants co-founder Frederick DeLuca in an eight-year dispute with a Delray Beach developer. On Feb. 10, the jury returned a verdict for Holland & Knight’s client and ordered a judgment that is expected to range from $12 million to $14 million once interest, attorneys' fees and costs are calculated.
Holland & Knight partner Rick Hutchison and his team represented Mr. DeLuca and his affiliated companies in two consolidated civil cases against developer Anthony V. Pugliese III, The Pugliese Co. and Pugliese's business manager, Joseph Reamer. The parties sued each other for fraud-based claims and breach of contract arising out of a purchase of 27,000 acres in Yeehaw Junction, near Orlando, Fla.
In 2005, Mr. DeLuca invested, through one of his companies, in Mr. Pugliese's proposed green city development known as Destiny. In 2009, Mr. DeLuca became suspicious of how Mr. Pugliese was handling the project, which involved transforming 27,000 acres near Yeehaw Junction into an environmentally sustainable mixed-use development.
Mr. DeLuca sued Messrs. Pugliese and Reamer, and in the process uncovered a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme. Mr. Pugliese pled guilty to criminal charges stemming from his creation of fraudulent companies and bank accounts to funnel Mr. DeLuca's money into his pocket. According to the charges, Mr. Pugliese used more than $1 million to pay for work on his $50 million oceanfront mansion, including a "moat chilling machine" to cool the saltwater moat surrounding the house. He was sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years' probation and ordered to pay restitution of almost $1.2 million.
After a five-week civil trial, the jury found in favor of Mr. DeLuca and his affiliates in their breach of contract claim against Mr. Pugliese's company's claim. It also found that Mr. Pugliese and his business manager committed civil theft, fraud, conversion and other torts.
Mr. Hutchison was assisted by partners Chris Bellows, Kelly-Ann Cartwright, John Chapman and Josh Levenson and associate Ben Taormina. Willie Gary of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary represented Mr. Pugliese.