Club-Exploria

Club Exploria v Aaronson

Case Number: 6-18-cv-00576

Last Updated: August 27, 2022

Status

Pending ruling on prevailing defendant timeshare cancellation attorney’s motion for prevailing party fees under FDUTPA and Lanham Act

Location

USDC, Middle District of FL (Orlando)

Presiding Judge

Judge John Antoon II

Date Filed

04/13/2018

Highlights

Timeshare exit attorney Austin Aaronson prevailed in defense of lawsuit brought by timeshare developer Club Exploria after court granted his summary judgment motion. In affirming trial court’s dismissal of complaint, the 11th Circuit ruled that “the mere fact a person hires a lawyer to assist him with a disputed contractual obligation and then breaches that disputed contractual obligation is insufficient to establish that the lawyer intentionally procured the breach. This is especially true when, as in this case, the client testifies without contradiction that he or she breached the contract for reasons unrelated to the lawyer’s advice or representations.”

Case Posture

Claims:

Club Exploria asserted the following claims against Austin Aaronson and his law firm:

  • Tortious Interference;
  • Violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA); and
  • False advertising in violation of the Lanham Act; and
  • Violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act

Posture:

Case dismissed after judgment on summary judgment in favor of defendant timeshare cancellation attorney; affirmed on appeal; pending ruling on defendant’s attorney’s motion for prevailing party attorney fees under FDUTPA and Lanham Act.

Summary:

Aaronson specializes in timeshare owner grievances against timeshare developers. Club Exploria asserted that Aaronson falsely advertises to timeshare owners that they can easily cancel their timeshare contracts if they hire Aaronson; and that Aaronson instructs the owners to break their timeshare contracts. The court granted Aaronson’s motion to dismiss Club Exploria’s RICO claim at the pleading stage.

The court granted Aaronson’s motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims, finding that Club Exploria failed to present evidence that Aaronson instructed any timeshare owner to cease paying or caused them to believe they could cease paying on their timeshare obligations. Regarding the FDUTPA claim, the court found that the Aaronson advertisements were not actionable because they were not connected to “trade or commerce,” but rather the practice of law; i.e., the exercise of a legal remedy. Moreover, the advertisements truthfully represented that Aaronson would pursue a resolution of his clients’ dispute with timeshare developers. The court found that Aaronson not only sent letters to negotiate with the developers on behalf of his clients, but also pursued arbitration or civil litigation on their behalf.

Accordingly, on November 10, 2020, the court granted Aaronson’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit, rendering Aaronson the prevailing party.

On March 25, 2022, after oral argument, the 11th Circuit issued an opinion in Case No. 21-11556 denying Club Exploria’s appeal of the order granting summary judgment on the the tortious interference claim: “Assuming without deciding that Florida law authorizes a tortious interference claim against a lawyer based on his advice to a client, the mere fact a person hires a lawyer to assist him with a disputed contractual obligation and then breaches that disputed contractual obligation is insufficient to establish that the lawyer intentionally procured the breach. This is especially true when, as in this case, the client testifies without contradiction that he or she breached the contract for reasons unrelated to the lawyer’s advice or representations.”

Selected Events:

Mar. 25, 2022 Opinion of 11th Cir. Affirming dismissal

Nov. 10, 2020 Order [168, 169] dismissal after granting Ds MSJ

Oct 21, 2019 Order [87] granting M2D RICO, FL false advertising, decl relief

 

[90] Trans of Sept 13 2019 Cross M2C

[54] Trans of Apr 25, 2019 hearing on D’s MPO re non-owners

Parties

Plaintiffs:

Club Exploria, LLC, Club Exploria Management, LLC formerly known as Summer Bay Management, L.C.

Plaintiffs’ counsel:

David E. Cannella, Holland & Knight, LLP – Orlando; Michael J. Chiusano, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; William J. Moore, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP;

Defendant:

Aaronson, Austin, P.A., doing business as Aaronson Law Firm, Austin N. Aaronson

Defendant’s counsel:

Austin Neil Aaronson (pro se); Charles J. Meltz (Eide, Telan & Meltz, P.A.)

copyright © 2020 – 2022 Timeshare Law Library

By using this site and its services you agree to the Terms of Service of this site.

By continuing to use this site you agree to these Terms of Service and acknowledge that you understand that you are agreeing to binding legal terms.