September 5, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio
Attn: Leonard Collins, General Counsel
317 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Dear Senator Rubio,
We applaud you for standing up to ensure that we in Florida have the best Federal Judges we can. We adamantly oppose Judge William Lewis Thomas (“Judge Thomas”) for any position as a South Florida Federal District Court Judge for several reasons. Our analysis, reasoning, observations, and decision are not based upon the color of his skin, his heritage, his religious background, his sexual preferences or his political affiliations. We do not discriminate. Simply put Judge Thomas is not Federal District Court Judge material for the reasons that follow.
First, merely looking at Judge Thomas’ Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees shows that Judge Thomas is not qualified. Judge Thomas is not published, has never written a judicial opinion, and has only been a Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge since November of 2004. Most of his tenure was in the criminal division with only three years on the civil bench. There are far more qualified individuals for the position than Judge Thomas, including the two other submissions to President Obama.
Second, Judge Thomas is well known for “shooting from the hip” and is harmful as a result causing the citizens that have been before him in civil cases to wonder about our judicial system. He prejudges cases then ensures that his pick wins rather than showing neutrality. He does not follow court precedent of superior courts, court rules, or statutes when ruling. Judge Thomas simply ignores them and dispenses what we call Thomas’ law. Judge Thomas shows ineptness and an inability to act as an impartial jurist while presiding over civil cases. We have no experience with him in criminal cases other than we know he has been overturned by an appellate court multiple times.
Third, Judges should be neutral and impartial in all respects. Judge Thomas is not. He shows political favor when he deems it necessary to further his career. We know as we were in a case where this occurred as we explain below. We believe that Judge Thomas’ appointment was politically motivated rather than the appointment of the most qualified candidate, which we explain further. We believe it was a favor for a favor appointment.
We were involved in a case before Judge Thomas styled Green East #2, LTD. v. Florida Action Films, Inc., et al. The case number is 06-1613 CA 2 pending in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. Judge Thomas presided over the case the whole time he was assigned to the general civil division.
We own three companies. Two of the companies simply own the property that we ran our third company on. Since 1979, we have run a mom and pop company on one or both of the properties. We run and own currently a company called Ted Vernon Specialty Automobiles, Inc. (“TVSA”). TVSA sells classical cars and ran its business on the two properties owned by our other companies. For 32 years, we have run one company or another on the properties including TVSA since 1990 and never had a problem with access and always had the same point of entry and access since day one.
Adjacent to our properties is a large shopping center owned by Green East #2, LTD. (“Green East”). Part of Green East’s property is a roadway that separates the properties. Pursuant to two deeds, one from 1935 and the other from 1939, we have the right, our successors and predecessors have and will always have the right to use this private roadway to access our properties and businesses. Further, in 1957 two judges (Judges Giblin and Crawford) entered Final Orders and two mandatory injunctions precluding the then owners and its successors (Green East) from blocking the roadway and access to our property. We have attached those two orders to this letter as Exhibits 1 and 2. Both orders were appealed. One to Florida’s Supreme Court and the other to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals. Both appeals were dismissed without opinion and still stand. They have never been extinguished by any means giving us the absolute right to access our properties.
These orders were not allowed by Judge Thomas to come into our case as evidence as our right to an easement to access or property. Why? Keep reading-
In 2004, Green East made plans to demolish its shopping center in order to build multiple high-rise buildings at an estimated cost of $400 million dollars, plans were submitted including the property in which we sat and operated daily. According to renderings and plans we obtained Green East needed the roadway and our companies’ properties in order to carry out its plans. Thus, our problems began.
Green East initially, in 2006, filed a two-count complaint which counts were trespass damages (Count I) and injunctive relief for trespass (Count II) claiming that we were trespassers on limited portions of its property.(The Giblin and Crawford order) In 2007, Green East filed an amended complaint with four counts, which were Count I (Breach of Lease), Count II (Tenant Removal), Count III (Trespass Damages), and Count IV (Injunctive Relief). Green East was pleading in the alternative and was now claiming there was a valid lease, which based on its own Amended Complaint showed it was time barred by laches and the statute of limitations, and that did not contain two witness’ signatures of Green East, and was not signed by Green East or any of its General Partners. The lease expired in 1994 and was between a company that was owned by us but was properly dissolved through the state of Florida in 1990 and had paid off the lease. Nobody signed a personal guarantee for the lease. Green East claimed we were holdover tenants on property that was vacated in 1990 and we supplied the court with Green East’s Interdepartmental letters trying to rent us this same vacant parking area in 1996 as well as satellite photos showing same. Green East had pled three different coexistent but inconsistent remedies for the same alleged wrongs. One in equity for injunctive relief claiming no adequate remedy at law and two inconsistent remedies at law which were for trespass damages or in the alternative for lease damages.
Ultimately, on March 10, 2009, Judge Thomas new to the general civil division (he was there approximately one month) entered a final judgment in the case finding injunctive relief was the appropriate remedy over the other two remedies which final judgment was appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal and was affirmed with written opinion. See Florida Action Films, Inc. v. Green East No. 2, Ltd., 29 So.3d 471 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010). We have attached the opinion to this letter as Exhibit 3.The Third DCA found the judgment to be a final judgment.
Even though a FINAL JUDGMENT had been entered, Judge Thomas now insisted to proceed with the case on the other two alternative remedies, which were for trespass damages and breach of lease, which makes no sense to us at all. Who in the world could possibly even believe you could be a trespasser who is entitled to injunctive relief and at the same time be a lessor during the same time period, based upon the same parties, on the same property related to the same occurrences? Basically you cannot be a trespasser and at the same time be a renter, during the same time period on the same properties based upon the same occurrences. Judge Thomas believes you can be which shows his ineptness. To us he lacks a basic understanding of the law in civil cases. (Thomas is ignoring the Giblin order, Crawford order and deeds, how can we trespass when we have every right to access our property)
Ultimately, Judge Thomas after the appeal and affirmance enters a second final judgment in the case and now awards Green East lease damages and at the same time trespass damages for the same time period, based upon the same parties, on the same property related to the same occurrences. If we were found to be holdover tenants and charged for rents, how can we then be trespassers and charged two times for the same alleged wrongs? The second final judgment is attached as Exhibit 10. How could this possibly be? This is what we call Thomas’ law. These matters are currently pending before Florida’s Supreme Court. It is our understanding that once a final judgment has been entered in a case and an appellate court affirms the judgment that a court loses jurisdiction over the matter other than to enforce the judgment. A court cannot enter a second final judgment, which contradicts the first final judgment or can they? Judge Thomas believes you can. We repeatedly object to this to no avail. Multiple times, we argued the election of remedies doctrine to a deaf ear.
Now back to why this was done and why we believe Judge Thomas’ appointment was a favor for favor appointment. Terranova Corp. (“Terranova”), is owned by Stephen Bittel who is well connected to President Obama and is invited frequently to Washington were he has met with the President. One such meeting was a dinner with the President and German Chancellor Merkel with other dignitaries. Attached as Exhibit 4 is a list of the invitees and Mr. Bittel is on the list. We have highlighted his name. We have been collecting pictures of Mr. Bittel with the President and members of his administration and have these pictures with commentary.
Further, Mr. Bittel is a large contributor to the Democratic Party and was instrumental in helping President Obama become reelected to a second term. Mr. Bittel is very close to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. It is reported that Mr. Bittel and Rep. Wasserman frequently text, call or email each other day and night. We have attached as Exhibits 5 and 6 two articles, which more fully explain the aforementioned relationship. We have highlighted certain portions of them.
Mr. Bittel’s company Terranova manages Green East’s property. Further, Mr. Bittel is also one of the partners of Green East and stood to make substantial sums of money if the development were to occur. Mr. Bittel ran the litigation for Green East not as an attorney but as management and a partner related to our case. He frequently attended all critical hearings to make his presence known.
Throughout the proceedings, we received one after another inept rulings from Judge Thomas who continually ignored court precedent of superior courts, court rules or statutes. We are documenting them in case you may need them including the motions and transcripts related to them. However, we will explain to you one such ruling related to Mr. Bittel.
Mr. Bittel was to act as Green East’s expert at the second trial including for the computation of trespass damages. When we received the expert disclosures, our expert realized that Mr. Bittel had computed trespass damages on a gross rent basis contrary to Florida Supreme Court and Third DCA precedent. See Kester v. Bostwick, 153 Fla. 437, 445-446 (Fla. 1943) (“Net rents and profits have reference to a fair rental value less the cost of rental and collection…”) and Grossman v. Sea Air Towers, Ltd., 1986 Fla. App. LEXIS 9007 at *7 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986) (“Instead such damages are computed by subtracting from rental income, which is lost as a direct result of the defendant's tortious conduct, all operating expenses which are ordinarily incurred in producing that income.”). We have attached to this letter both opinions as Exhibits 7 and 8, which we have highlighted. There is no contrary authority we can find in this state.
After multiple hearings on this issue, Judge Thomas made one of his Thomas law rulings finding that expenses should not be taken into consideration when computing trespass damages. Attached, as Exhibit 9 is Judge Thomas’ order. In other words, they had to be computed on a gross basis as Mr. Bittel had done. This was done after we presented multiple times to Judge Thomas the two above-mentioned cases related to trespass damages. In addition, over our objections, Judge Thomas allowed Mr. Bittel to testify that Green East was also entitled to trespass damages on the easement area’s that Judge Giblin, Judge Crawford and Judge Thomas had ruled that we have the right to use for ingress and egress. Mr. Bittel testified at his deposition that Green East was entitled to charge a toll for the use of the roadway to access our properties. Judge Thomas agreed. There is no law that supports this. It is again Thomas law.
Further, throughout the proceedings when Green East wanted a special set hearing it was able to obtain one immediately. When we say immediately, we mean with in one to three days. On the other hand, when we requested a special set hearing we were never able to obtain one. All requests and dates are documented. We believe this shows Judge Thomas’ propensity for bias in a case.
Because of the above and Judge Thomas refusing to enforce the mandate from Third DCA, his final judgment or Judge Giblin and Judge Crawford’s final judgments we had to vacate the property we hold title to. In this regards Judge Thomas turned a blind eye to orders from a higher court and allowed Green East to block any access to our properties we rightfully had by deeds and court orders. We had no choice but to move TVSA to another location. We have spent over $1,500,000.00 defending our property and our Constitutional rights and now have a judicially landlocked commercial property in Miami. Worse we and our invitees are under an injunction and are deemed as trespassing and are fined for this each and every time. We shut our doors to a thriving family business due to Judge Thomas’ biased rulings. The entire World can access the roadway but the one who has Higher court’s ruling is fined, burdened with an injunction and my property devalued because one Judge rules in favor of the politically connected opponent.
We believe strongly that Judge Thomas’ appointment was a favor for a favor appointment as already mentioned. Judge Thomas throughout the proceedings was bending over backwards for Mr. Bittel and Green East to accommodate their every wish. For this obvious, documented, favoritism, we believe that in turn Mr. Bittel has helped Judge Thomas first to be select as one of the three judges to be presented to you and Senator Nelson. We believe that Mr. Bittel is instrumental in swaying President Obama to choose Judge Thomas as his selection either directly or indirectly through his contacts.
We are committed to taking whatever actions are necessary including testifying before congress or the judicial committee as necessary to ensure that Judge Thomas does not become a federal judge. Our expert is also willing to testify. We are committed to providing you with whatever information you may need in this regard.
We appreciate and thank you for your consideration and time.