RV Sales of Broward, one of the leading recreational vehicle sellers in Florida, operating under the trade name Planet RV, is continuing a legal battle of paramount importance to win again at the appellate level. While the jury in the original case awarded $2,637,000 to RV Sales of Broward after hearing all the evidence, the judge nullified the jurys award, reducing it to $557,000. The judgment came after a jury had ruled in favor of the RV company in its case against the landlord, 595 Annex, LLC, following a devastating fire that razed Planet RV in March 2021. Stetler will ask the appeals court to reverse the judges decision that stripped away her multi-million-dollar damage award, decided by a Broward County jury after a two-week trial.
The plaintiffs had initiated legal proceedings against their landlord, 595 Annex, LLC, to seek damages and remedies for the tragic incident. The company previously occupied a commercial property at 3030 Burris Rd, Davie, Florida, owned by the same landlord who also operates the 595 Truck Stop in Davie, Florida.
In 2018, RV Sales of Broward raised concerns about faulty wiring that had caused damage to numerous RVs and equipment over several years. The landlord dismissed the concerns. Unfortunately, on March 22, 2021, a catastrophic five-alarm fire erupted, resulting in a complete loss of Stetler's building, business, and its contents.
Stetler, who believed she was protected by her lease, expected insurance proceeds to be used for rebuilding or restoring the property in the event of such a casualty. However, this did not happen. It was later discovered that the landlord had received insurance proceeds exceeding $1,000,000 for rebuilding and also received lost rent revenue totaling $210,000. Surprisingly, the landlord sued Stetler for rent and eviction.
In response, Stetler filed a seven-count complaint in the summer of 2021. After 27 months, only three counts remained, with one of them being a breach of contract negligence claim, which eventually went to a jury trial. Just before concluding the trial, there was a dispute regarding the verdict form. Stetler's counsel argued that the defendant's form was confusing and inconsistent, but the court favored the defendant's version.
The jury, however, faced difficulties in understanding the form and sought clarification from the judge, who could only refer to the jury instructions. After extensive deliberations, the jury reached a verdict. They awarded Stetler's company $557,000 for breach of contract negligence due to the faulty wiring issue. Additionally, they granted $210,000 for unjust enrichment, as the landlord had charged rent while also collecting insurance. Furthermore, Stetler's company received $1,870,000 for constructive eviction because the landlord's failure to rebuild forced Stetler to relocate her company at a much higher rental rate.
Following the jury's decision, the defendants raised concerns about the verdict's inconsistency. In response to these concerns, the judge ordered all parties to return the next morning. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge retained only the breach of contract claim. The judge told Stetler that she had her day in court and she would be left with the breach of contract claim for $557,000.
All post-trial motions have been considered and denied, and appeals have been filed. However, Stetler finds herself in a legal limbo. Although she has a final judgment of $557,000 against the defendants, the judge has not determined the rent owed after set-offs and proper abatement. The judge has refused to rule on this matter until the appeal process is complete, even though it technically should not occur until a proper final judgment is in place.
RV Sales of Broward and Stetler remain committed to protecting their rights as they believe it was clear after a long, drawn-out trial that the jury had intended to award Stetler and her company fair compensation for the losses that were suffered.
Stetler is grappling with the challenge of rebuilding her company amid escalating legal expenses and an uncertain timeline to resolve this ordeal. Compounding her difficulties, 595 Annex currently holds all the funds and has transformed Stetler's previously thriving RV dealership into an extension of their truck stop.
View source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/rv-sales-of-broward-owner-gigi-stetler-to-appeal-catastrophic-fire-case-against-595-annex-996918051
RV Sales of Broward
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