In Miami we do not just go gently into that good night, we thrash and burn and hurl accusations and often file a bunch of lawsuits and countersuits.
Take the situation involving former City of Miami City Attorney Jorge L. Fernandez.
Right before filing his lawsuit against the City for $275k in severance, vacation and sick leave payments, this happened:
Mr. Fernandez’s lawsuit followed his plea of nolo contendere and adjudication of guilt on two charges of knowingly making false claims for reimbursement to the City’s Finance Department while serving as City Attorney, and the termination of his employment following the adjudication of guilt.Why should any of that matter?
Apples and oranges, that's all in the past!
The City denied liability to Mr. Fernandez, raised numerous affirmative defenses against his claim, and counterclaimed for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, breach of oath of office, civil theft, and conversion. Following three days of trial, which featured numerous documentary exhibits and the testimony of nine witnesses, the trial court entered a detailed final judgment denying Mr. Fernandez’s claim and awarding damages to the City on its counterclaims. Judgments against Mr. Fernandez for attorney’s fees and costs followed. For the reasons described below, we affirm each of the judgments and orders.I guess sometimes it's better to just go gently into that good night after all.
But Judge Shepherd in dissent doesn't think we should look into anyone's soul when interpreting the plain terms of a contract:
The majority opinion recounts Mr. Fernandez’s wrongdoings, concluding therefrom that “Mr. Fernandez’ attempt to reap the benefit of his own breaches should not be countenanced.” However, the task at hand is not “what should be countenanced,” but rather what “is countenanced” under the law. Strict application of the law to the facts of this case requires reversal.It being Miami after all, Judge Shepherd reasons that there is no "crime exception" or other ambiguity in the contract terms at issue:
The plain language of the two phrases covers all conditions under which Fernandez might leave the employ of the City. If the City had so desired, it could have inserted a cause provision, or a more limited “crime provision,” into the agreement. We cannot.So I guess a City employee with these same contract terms could go on a cross-country murder spree and still properly collect sick leave and severance pay.
God I love this town!
In other news -- the City of North Miami, still a mess.
Did I mention how much I love this town?