A seemingly routine lawsuit in Florida involves one of President Trumps’ business partners and a developer of Trump Towers, a Fuddruckers restaurant and possibly James Bond’s cars. Owners of the Fuddruckers on International Drive in Orlando commenced business litigation against their landlord, the president’s former business partner Michael Dezer, over a plan to convert a shopping mall into an automobile museum and tourist attraction.
The Artegon mall and its former owners were sued by Fuddruckers and eight tenants when it suddenly threw out most of its tenants in Jan. 2017. Fuddruckers, along with a movie theater and a Bass Pro Shop remained as tenants and have separate entrances. Dezer’s company was recently added as a defendant.
The plaintiffs added new claims that any rezoning, attempts to force it out, any demolition of the mall’s common areas, installation of signs that the location is not still in business or any use unrelated to retail will cause Fuddruckers to suffer harm or business loss. Fuddruckers argued that Dezer’s company assumed the leases when it purchased the company who owned this mall.
The mall is in 100 acres in Orlando’s tourist district. It was empty for around one year until Dezer purchased it for almost $24 million. He moved his large car collection from Miami to the mall and planned to open a go-cart track, vintage pinball museum and other attractions.
Dezer’s general manager in Orlando told the media last Dec. that he plans to open a limited auto dealership at the location. Dezer argued that the lease gives him discretion to make changes at the location and restricts Fuddruckers’ right to complain.
He has one of the largest private vehicle collections in the world including vehicles from James Bond movies and his South Florida museum has a section dedicated to the 007 movie “From Russia to Love.” He also built numerous “Trump Tower” condominiums in South Florida.
The City of Orlando fined him for lack of permits or zoning for an auto museum. Some of these disputes were resolved in Dec. However, the city asked for more detailed plans about Dezer’s plans for the Orlando development.
Developers and tenants involved in business disputes should seek legal representation. A lawyer can help resolve claims and protect their interests in matters involving government authorities, other developers and businesses.