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Kurlander v. Kaplan

United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

August 21, 2019, Decided; August 21, 2019, Filed

Case No. 8:19-cv-00742-T-02AEP

Opinion

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

This matter comes to the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint from Robert R. Kaplan and Robert R. Kaplan, Jr. (collectively "the Kaplans"), and Kaplan Voekler Cunningham & Frank PLC (the "Kaplan Firm"). Dkts. 19 & 23. Plaintiffs have filed oppositions in response, Dkts. 31 & 33, to which Defendants have replied, Dkts. 36 & 38. The Court took extensive argument from counsel at a hearing on these matters on August 7, 2019. The Court grants Defendants' Motions to Dismiss without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The facts alleged here in large part mirror the allegations in a related case, Case No. 8:19-cv-00644-T-02CPT. As there, for purposes of this motion the Court accepts the factual allegations in the Complaint as true.

Mr. Stanton is an experienced real estate professional in the business of acquiring properties for the purposes of government leases. Dkt. [*3]  1 ¶¶ 13-15. In 2006, Mr. Stanton began using the legal services of his friend Mr. Kaplan Jr. and Mr. Kaplan Jr.'s law firm, a predecessor entity to the Kaplan Firm, for his real estate investment business. Dkt. 1 ¶ 17. From this point forward Mr. Kaplan Jr. and his father—and partner at the Kaplan Firm—were Mr. Stanton's "go-to attorneys." Dkt. 1 ¶ 19. At some point during this relationship, the Kaplans and Mr. Stanton entered into a fee arrangement where the Kaplans would receive an equal share of the profits for transactions and ventures that they provided legal services for. Id. This included Mr. Stanton's new investment vehicle, EMS-CHI, LLC. Id. According to the Complaint, This relationship was not memorized in writing nor was Mr. Stanton encouraged to seek outside counsel's opinion regarding this arrangement. Id.

In 2012, Mr. Stanton was in the process of acquiring a number of properties but was in need of additional capital. Dkt. 1 ¶ 20. The Kaplans, in addition to providing the legal services related to this acquisition, introduced Mr. Stanton to another client of theirs, Dr. Kurlander. Id. Dr. Kurlander, a medical doctor, was able to provide the capital necessary to fund this [*4]  project. Id.

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2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141877 *; 2019 WL 3944338

PHILIP KURLANDER, M.D. BAKER HILL HOLDING, a New York limited liability company, EDWIN M. STANTON, and STANTON HOLDINGS, LLC, Plaintiffs, v. ROBERT R KAPLAN, ROBERT R. KAPLAN, JR., and KAPLAN VOEKLER CUNNINGHAM & FRANK, PLC, Defendants.

Subsequent History: Motion denied by, in part, Dismissed by, Without prejudice, in part, Dismissed by, in part Kurlander v. Ltd. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213973 (M.D. Fla., Dec. 12, 2019)

Prior History: Kurlander v. Kaplan, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43268 (M.D. Fla., Mar. 18, 2019)

CORE TERMS

conspiracy, attorney-client, allegations, enterprise, documents, professional malpractice, Package, entity, motion to dismiss, misconduct, commerce, fiduciary duty, legal services, contractual, parties, unfair, constructive fraud, malpractice, practices, drafted, Holdings, ventures, counts, negligent misrepresentation, cause of action, matter of law, Partnership, Deceptive, lawyers, significant relationship