Florida judge denies try by Swedish billionaire to dismiss lawsuit over hotel deal

By Marian Johns | Apr 4, 2019

MIAMI — A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss by defendants in an alleged conspiracy case involving a billionaire real estate developer from Switzerland and a New Jersey investor who entered into a contract for the purchase of a luxury hotel chain. 

According to the March 18 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida court order in Nader Tavakoli v. Vladislave Doronin, et al, the court ruled to deny defendants Carl Johna Eliasch's and Sherway Group LTD's combined motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction. 

The case involves the purchase of the Aman Resorts with Tavakoli, an investor residing in New Jersey, alleging the defendants "conspired to cut him out of the deal" for which he was one of the "principal architects."  In 2013,the suit says, Tavakoli contracted to purchase the hotel chain from DLF Group Hospitality (DLF) and sought capital from one of the defendants, Doronin, a real estate developer from Switzerland. The agreement included compensation for Tavakoli in the form of equity interest in a newly formed company and a seat on the board, according to court documents. 

Tavakoli alleges Doronin worked with a longtime friend, Carl Johan Eliasch, to oust him from the deal, which included conspiring to remove Tavakoli during a board meeting held in Miami, and "eliminate his interests in Aman Resorts."

In their motion to dismiss, the defendants argue lack of personal jurisdiction since one of the defendants and his company involved in the alleged "scheme" to oust Tavakoli. Tavakoli is a citizen of Sweden and controls an entity, Sherway, a corporation registered in the British Virgin Islands. The plaintiff argues that since the actions took place at a Miami board meeting, the court has jurisdiction. 

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga agreed with the plaintiff, stating: "[The] plaintiff sufficiently alleges and presents evidence Sherway engaged in a civil conspiracy with Eliasch and Doronin and committed substantial acts in furtherance of the conspiracy in Florida." The court also stated that it "finds Sherway purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Florida by choosing to enter into a conspiracy with Doronin, a Florida resident."

The court ruled that jurisdiction over Sherway "is consistent with due process." 

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