Tampa, Fla. — The Second District Court of Appeals issued an order this week to uphold a jury’s decision in favor of developer Buck-Leiter against the City of Sarasota for breach of contract and damages awarded by the Trial Court stemming from a contract regarding the Palm Avenue Parking Garage.
The District Court of Appeals in Tampa upheld the jury’s conclusion that the City was in breach of its contract with developer Buck-Leiter Palm Avenue Development LLC. The order, issued on Wednesday, agrees with the original Sarasota County jury’s finding that the City breached its contract and the judgment of the Trial Court awarding damages, interest and attorney’s fees.
“In spite of several attempts by the City to overturn the initial jury decision that they breached their contract, we are satisfied that the appeals court upheld the outcome of the original trial,” said Matt Leiter, manager of Buck-Leiter and real estate developer. “While it took nearly 13 years, we believe justice was served.”
In 2008, the Sarasota City commission backed out of a contract with Buck-Leiter to build the parking garage, hotel, retail space, and condominiums. The developer argued that the City breached its contract.
The project was initially planned for two phases to include a parking structure, hotel and retail space in phase one and condominiums in phase two. In 2015 a circuit court judge ruled in favor of the City dismissing the case. The developer appealed the dismissal and the Second District Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal sending the case back for a jury trial. In 2018, the jury awarded an amount of $49 million to developer which was reduced by the trial judge to $1.4 million plus interest and attorneys’ fees.