Hogan Lovells and Reynolds Frizzell obtain Federal Court dismissal of RICO suit filed by Florida real estate investor

Press releases | 14 May 2021

Miami, 14 May 2-21 – Global law firm Hogan Lovells and co-counsel Reynolds Frizzell successfully defended two Texas based real estate developers in a case alleging claims under the Racketeering Influence and Corruption Act (RICO), which has been dismissed by a federal court for the Southern District Court of Florida.

A Hogan Lovells team in Miami, working with Houston co-counsel from Reynolds Frizzell, represented Texas real estate investors John J. Griggs III and Cross K. Moceri, owners of Presidium Group in a case brought by XL Funding. Griggs and Moceri have extensive experience developing student housing and related real estate projects in Austin, Texas, and entered into a venture with XL Funding and its principal Michael Fischer to engage in further property development. 

When the parties simply disagreed as to the capital contributions needed to move forward with the project, XL Funding brought  an aggressive suit with unfounded serious allegations against our clients. 

In dismissing the complaint, the federal district court had harsh words for the plaintiff for failing to plead specific allegations of wrongdoing. The plaintiff, the court stated, “cannot shirk its pleading obligations by simply hurling insults, alleging (what seem to be) ordinary business communications, and concluding the Defendants conduct was fraudulent.” 

“The Amended Complaint must—but does not—identify the specific person who committed an act of fraud and what the actual underlying fraudulent act or misrepresentation was,” the court continued. 

In its order, the court denied Count II of the Amended Complaint with prejudice and without leave to amend, and gave Plaintiff until May 7, 2021 to file a second amended complaint on the remaining counts admonishing the plaintiff to “eliminate extraneous allegations, including acrimonious invective.”  

On May 7, 2021, rather than file the second amended complaint allowed by the court’s order, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal, dismissing all of its claims in the action. Immediately after the notice was filed, the court terminated and closed the case.  

“We are grateful this case has been dismissed against our clients,  John J. Griggs III and Cross K. Moceri, who are respected businessmen that have a history of successful real estate development,” said Hogan Lovells partner Daniel Gonzalez. Gonzalez added that “this case should never have been filed in Florida and the allegations in the complaint were never supported by the facts of the case.” 

In addition to Gonzalez, the Hogan Lovells team included senior associate Joshua Fordin both in Miami. 

Griggs and Moceri are also represented by Reynolds Frizzell partner Michael Oldham and associate Harris Wells in Houston. 

Oldham concluded by saying “as we have stated from the outset of this case, we viewed it as meritless and are grateful the court has dismissed it,” Oldham said.