Opera Tower, LLC & Tibor Hollo Sues Me for $25M

January 29, 2008 by Lucas Lechuga

As some of you may already know, my employment at EWM Realtors was terminated this afternoon. The Miami Herald published a story this evening on their website revealing that the developer of Opera Tower has sued EWM, and myself, for $25M.

The interesting thing about this case is that I did not have my license hung with EWM when I wrote that post. In my opinion, they are coming after EWM because their parent company is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. I have no ill feelings against EWM. I fully understand their position on the situation, given that they are owned by a much larger entity.

The reason why I wrote the post is because I was receiving a lot of phone calls from contract holders at Opera Tower telling me that they had no intention on closing on their condos. In my opinion, a blog is a vehicle to share opinions, thoughts and concerns. I was merely sharing these concerns with potential buyers and contract holders. About three weeks ago, a local newspaper disclosed a story about a class-action lawsuit against the developer filed by contract holders wanting to get out. This topic was an area of concern, and one that I felt needed to be addressed to my readers.

I had no malicious intent against the developer nor the condo development. I was merely sharing my opinion with the readers of my blog and the concerns of current contract holders. I see myself as a real estate agent on the street that is sharing the concerns and opinions of others.

Here is the CBS4.com story for those of you who aren’t local to Miami.

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187 Comments on "Opera Tower, LLC & Tibor Hollo Sues Me for $25M"


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Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas,

My vote of support goes to you. I think you have been doing a great job expressing your opinions, getting people involved and fully utilizing your market knowledge. Please do no stop.

All the best,

Lipe

Anonymous
Julian
8 years 7 months ago

I think the sad thing is that whatever the rights and wrongs (i.e. defamation or not), whether this is david vs goliath and so grossly unfair – the sad sad fact is that if it comes to suing a realtor (and EWM) to try and save your business when all others around you are straining and crumbling is such a clear indication of how far into the Emergency Room the Miami real estate market really is.

Anonymous

[…] Value Ireland wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

Anonymous
darryl
8 years 7 months ago
Tibor may not have filed BK during the last downturn but it sure looks as if he is well on his way now…..this truly reeks of desperation and shows a complete lack of confidence in his own project. I still remember the ground breaking party at Villa Magna about 2 1/2 years ago……Great Party!!……..Just when are we going to begin construction on this cash flow killer? If Tibor had any class he would donate that land to the city and give the residents of Brickell a small waterfront park as it will not be worth developing during the rest of… Read more »
Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Shame on EWM and Hollo!

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Hi

I just saw the yahoo news segment. Please fight this to the utmost. Get ACLU involved.

You have every right to write your opinion in your own blog !!!

Binoj

Anonymous
Steve
8 years 7 months ago

So, are they suing CBS also? What if a newspaper makes the same mistake? What about a retraction?

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago
Lucas, Just saw the CBS4 segment on yahoo. I cannot believe that this real estate developer is actually suing you for expressing your own opinion on your blog! Unbelievable!!! This is ridiculous. Clearly a sign of desperation on the developers part. In the segment, he mentions that your scaring the community with your comments? What a dumb statement! If anyone is scarring the community, its the developers and there shady tactics.]] Just letting you know to fight this all the way because this fight is not only about real estate opinion blogs but i feel this will determine and set… Read more »
Anonymous
FellowMktMaker
8 years 7 months ago

I just came across the Opera Tower suit on Yahoo before checking on your blog (which is a daily ritual for me now). The developers reek of desperation and need to acknowledge the economic reality. As for your employer and you parting ways, I think that you are nothing but sheer “QUALITY” and you’ll land on your feet once the dust settles. If I were in the market for a Miami condo; I’d be knocking down your door to secure your services. Hang tough, bro!

Anonymous
cyrus
8 years 7 months ago

spineless move on the part of EWM to not support you.

Anonymous
Ralph Gedagoya
8 years 7 months ago
You may want to get some legal advice and keep your mouth shut until doing so. Yes, this country has free speech. However, you need to get your facts straight and cannot say someone filed bankruptcy in their past if they did not. It is kind of petty filing the suit and if EWM is owned by Buffet, they’ll get it thrown out. Regardless if you feel that you are right or wrong please realize an individual (unless extremely wealthy) does not want to litigate with a company. It’s a fallacy that the court system is always just. Sometimes it… Read more »
Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Open an Online Petition, I’m sure many of the world wide bloggers will sustain you. I will be one of them and I’m located in Romania / Europe.

Good luck!
Robert Z

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago
I am with Robert, open an online petition. I am a Realtor (R) highly critical of the Las Vegas High Rise resale market which has closed less than 20 units per month since the credit crunch and holds 9+ months of inventory on the rental market (with a valley wide absorption of an average of 3 months) and 4-7 years of resale inventory. The cheerleaders (sellers) in this market are passionate and want me to shut up but there is NO APPARENT demand for people who actually want to live in these units. All you have to look at is… Read more »
Anonymous
Mike
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas, your viewers support you. This case has no basis and is nothing more than a scare tactic.

Anonymous
Sbki
8 years 7 months ago

”We want to encourage associates to be a positive source of information,” Shuffield said

Maybe someone who lost in the market can hold Shuffield responsible for bad investment advise.

Eventually people are wise enough to know when being fed a bunch of crap.

Keeping it real is what sets this blog apart from the rest. Keep up the good work Lucas

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Things must be fragile for Hollo to pull this. Best of luck to you Lucas.

Anonymous
Raffi
8 years 7 months ago

I love how Hollo is trying to point the blame for his terrible building and horrible business tactics on you. I think this blog speaks the truth, everyone knows that the opera tower is overpriced junk. the only reason he’s suing is because he has no money left. what a loser Hollo is……..and by the way someone should ask him about villa magna, another dud development brought to you by idiots in real estate. keep up the good work Lucas, losers like Hollo don’t ever end well.

Anonymous
V
8 years 7 months ago
Hi Lucas, I live in Washington DC and bumped into your blog one day while I was looking for information because I’m moving to Miami. I’m not involved in real estate and am not even in the market to buy, nevertheless, I found myself gravitating to your blog every day. (This is the first blog I’ve ever kept up with.) Your candid way of expressing what’s happening in the market is compelling and informative. I was shocked to read about this new development and hope the courts see the merit in what you do. What’s the big deal, the guy… Read more »
Anonymous
Terry
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas, I support you all the way and will keep using your advice to buy my condo in Miami.
I find EWM’s reaction disgusting and will certainly never work with them as they should support their associates and not let them down.
When they say they did not know about your blog, it is just ridiculous…

As for Hollo, I think this will put him and his Opera Tower develop;ent in the public light for the real truth, and it will hurt !

The people are with you Lucas. Hang in there !

Anonymous
RMP
8 years 7 months ago

Sueing a blogger!!!
What has this country come to!

Does anybody not understand the constitution? A judge should dismiss this right away. $25 million for a blog post! LOL

Anonymous
RMP
8 years 7 months ago

And I understand you have no ill feelings to EWM, but I for one will encourage all my acquaintances to find somebody else from now on.

Realtors should not be brown nosing developers to that degree.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

I have to tell you that I am very disappointed about the whole EWM thing, but not surprised. You have a lot of people backing you up, especially real estate bloggers.

Best of Luck Lucas!

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

We at Eyeonmiami posted your story on our blog. We are not happy about what is happening to you —

What crap. Blog on….

Anonymous
antwan
8 years 7 months ago

CALL THE ACLU!!

Anonymous

[…] Hollo in the Miami Sun Post last year, who has leveled a $25 Million Defamation Suit against a Florida real estate blogger. source Miami Herald: read full […]

Anonymous
Un-Related
8 years 7 months ago

RMP says: “Realtors should not be brownnosing developers to that degree.”

This may be the understatement of the year. Wait until the indiscretions of the in-house hacks at RCRS come to light and they have to pull their collective Pinocchio-length noses out of the “big guy’s” backside in order to hael save their careers.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Maybe Tibor wants the $25 million to re-invest in his own project like Perez is doing

**this is an opinion, and only an opinion and is not meant to discredit the developer or anyone involved!**

(is that what we’ll have to write on our blogs now?)

Anonymous
Tara
8 years 7 months ago

I am with you V. I am definetly not a blogger but find myself drawn to your website since I bumped into it a few months back. Stay positive and keep up the good work!!!

Anonymous
Eddie
8 years 7 months ago

“I viewed these statements to be more negative in tone than just providing information,” Shuffield said, adding the firm wouldn’t have hired Lechuga had it known about the blog.

So EWM hired Lucas with no knowledge of his blog? I find this hard to believe. Mr Shuffield is either clueless or a liar. I suspect the latter. Regardless of which, I wouldn’t want him or his company representing me. I will be in the market to buy later this year and will make a point to steer clear of EWM.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas I have a feeling this case is going to go to the supreme court.

All the real estate bloggers are with you. This is a matter of free speech being surpressed and its unconstitutional.

I am going to try and get this message out to other bloggers.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Hey Lucas-

Sorry to hear the crummy news. Just know your blog is the only up-to-date and honest source of info on the Miami condo market out there and is an invaluable resource. When the time comes for me to make a purchse, you’ll be the first guy I call. Hang in there.

Anonymous
RMP
8 years 7 months ago
Anonymous
Johnny Remigio
8 years 7 months ago

Hang in there! I applaud you for expressing your concerns and speaking your mind. The Miami real estate is in bad shape and they can’t handle the truth!

Keep your head up!

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

You have my support as well. Blogging is supposed to be opinionated and Hollo seems to be tryng to minmize his loses or simply lay “blame” elsewhere for the condo’s failure. Why not blame a blogger for the fact no one wants to close in this depressed real estate market?

Anonymous
Fred
8 years 7 months ago
Why is anyone surprised by his company’s response? This is what ALL coporations do. They give in to anyone that complains, protests or files a suit. When was the last time you heard a corporation/company back their employee/worker? When a shock jock says something “offensive” on the radio, they fire them right away. Even though they made the stations millions of dollars along the way. This is what America has become. The pussification of corporations & Americans continues to happen all around us. Wake up people. Best of luck Lucas. Keep fighting, however, make sure you keep your weapons close… Read more »
Anonymous
B
8 years 7 months ago

EWM is just like any other brokerage firm. They don’t want the truth about real estate to get out. Realtors association is even worse. The real losers are the people who purchased anything in Miami from 2003 on. Nothing but hardships coming. Good luck waiting for a return on your investment capital once your maintenance fees and taxes are paid.

Anonymous
BFG
8 years 7 months ago
As many people as possible should digg the Herald and CBS stories to get as much attention on this as possible. You no doubt have the support of the entire blogging community. This issue has very wide-ranging repercussions. Think of what will happen if every blogger has to censor their posts for fear of legal action or posting a small error. —– That said, I do really feel that Lucas is the reason that the Miami real estate market is in the dump. If he had just followed the EWM “happy sunshine” policy, everything would be fine. Condos would still… Read more »
Anonymous
LB
8 years 7 months ago

LUCAS,

LIKE MANY OTHERS, I FIND YOUR WEB SITE EXTREMELY INFORMATIVE AND IMPARTIAL. FOR MANY OCASIONS WE SEE YOU POST DIFFERENT OPINIONS WITHOUT COMPROMISING.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, I AM SURE YOU WILL HAVE MANY PEOPLE BACKING YOU UP.

BEST WISHES,

LB

Anonymous
Buyer Tom
8 years 7 months ago
Well, I am a BUYER looking in this market right now and have read this blog with interest. I for one will try to NOT buy anything listed by EWM if I can help it since it would appear from EWM’s actions they are NOT interested in looking after the BUYER’S best interests by aiding the silencing of this blog. Shame. You need to do what is your best interest Lucas. Get a lawyer, don’t make further comments unless your lawyer says it is OK, and print the retraction or correction. It is a bogus lawsuit meant to intimidate. One… Read more »
Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

It always amazes me what a complete lack of understand of the first amendment most bloggers have. The only thing it protects you from is criminal prosecution from the government. (That’s the part where it says “Congress shall make no law”)

There isn’t anything in it that provides protection from civil consequences.

If in fact Lucas made an inaccurate “statement of fact” to support his “opinion”, and that inaccurate statement caused damages to the plaintiff, he absolutely can be held liable.

The first amendment has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous
Buyer Tom
8 years 7 months ago

Also, what goes around comes around. According to the newspaper article there have been 10 lawsuits filed against the developer already for whatever reason. If all the buyers each filed their own lawsuit I would suspect that that would be a heavy burden on the developer just like the developer is trying to do to Lucas. In the end, the developer is going to get hurt the most from filing that lawsuit…that is just my casual opinion. Maybe Lucas is an oracle and the correct should be to change the date to 2008? Let the legal filings commence….

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago
Hello Luca, As a real estate broker in Miami Beach and also a blogger, I totally support you. Your blog was always very interesting and your opinion just fair. It is really a lawsuit to silence you, and it was bad played by the developer. It will show his development in a very bad light now. Anyway his building wasn’t in my favorites, and everytime I pass by I am thinking that this will be a very nice solution for the affordable housing we badly need in Miami. I wish you good luck. He brought you too a lot of… Read more »
Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

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Anonymous
John
8 years 7 months ago

Protesting outside the development is still fair game…… Who’d buy from a shady developer. If I were a buyer I’d try to get out of my contract too………

Anonymous
RQ
8 years 7 months ago

This lawsuit is exactly what the developer shouldn’t have done. The negative publicity will only draw more attention to Lucas’ comments. Case in point, I spoke to a colleague of mine this morning and he mentioned that he has a contract at Opera Tower. They had every intention of closing, but after seeing the story on CBS4 last night, they are second guessing it.

Anonymous
hisham ferzli
8 years 7 months ago

You should counter sue for loss of job and income and many other potential harm they have caused you. Use your blog to update readers on the lawsuit and mediatise it as much as possible.

Anonymous
Support
8 years 7 months ago
It is obvious Shuffield acted on legal counsel. Hollo is just after money with a frivolous suit and to make a statement. EWM is not entirely Shuffield, but its 800 independent contractors who work really hard to make it happen for a buyer or seller. Who’s objective and proactive work make plenty of people happy and wealthy. The opinion of one does not mean is the opinion of all in the company. After all, wasn’t Lechuga’s great information blog one of EWM’s agents? So before you cut off EWM hardworking people, realize you are doing the same thing your are… Read more »
Anonymous

[…] The blogger’s statement is here. […]

Anonymous
Mauricio
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas,

I have to say your blog is the best informative by far. This blog is part of my coffee break. Just hang in there and the truth will come out. Developers are desperate and they would do whatever they can to stop people like you from passing nothing more than what is REALLY going on around here. You have a vote here buddy.

Anonymous
Buyer Tom
8 years 7 months ago

To Support – I think he was just recently employed at EWM, so the blog it not a product of some sort of good, open and honest culture at EWM. I stand firm to not deal with EWM now. Nor with anything done by Hollo unless he settles this tomorrow.

It’s my own personal boycott of shady real estate people. Maybe others will agree.

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