Court Upholds $300,000 Fine After Trump Refuses to Pay Miami Paint Store

Court Upholds $300,000 Fine After Trump Refuses to Pay Miami Paint Store
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Donald Trump is so rich. Big-league (bigly?) wealthy. So wonderfully wealthy that he apparently owes a Miami paint store $300,000 for work at his Trump National Doral Miami resort. So wealthy he's been fighting not to pay that $300,000 since last year. So wealthy that his lawyers officially lost an appeal yesterday and now he's gotta pay that $300,000 or try to appeal all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

Yes, the president of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, the single most powerful human being on Planet Earth, a man who recently bombed Syria on a whim, lost a fight over a few thousand dollars' worth of paint supplies.

Yesterday Miami's Third District Court of Appeal ruled that Trump Endeavor 12 LLC, which owns Trump National, owes the cash to a local store called the Paint Spot, which has been fighting to get money out of Trump since 2013. (Perhaps this is why a few of the president's latest budget proposals seem designed to let Miami sink into the rising ocean.)

According to court records, Trump agreed to pay the Paint Spot, which supplies Benjamin Moore paint, $200,000 for supplies to help renovate the Lodge at Trump Doral. But, Trump being Trump, in 2013 he simply decided he had "paid enough" of the contract and wouldn't fork over the last $32,535.87 he owed.

It's a classic Trump move: He and his companies have been sued literally thousands of times, often for simply deciding that he no longer felt like paying prearranged sums to small companies and construction contractors.

So, in 2014, Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto slapped a lien on the entire Trump Doral resort and ordered the then-not-president to fork over cash or face a June 2016 foreclosure sale on one of his most-valued properties. In another classically Trumpian move, he persuaded the judge to cancel the foreclosure proceedings after he placed the $34,000 into an escrow account, according to Jose Lambiet. But, naturally, Trump still refused to actually give that money to the Paint Spot.

In July, Judge Cueto ruled that Trump owed the Paint Spot both the money he'd stiffed the company on and $282,949 in attorney's fees. Trump filed an appeal. Through a series of convoluted, arcane filings, Trump's lawyers argued that the Paint Spot had technically filed a lien on the wrong subcontractor at Trump Doral.

Yesterday Miami's Court of Appeal ruled that Trump's claim was technically accurate and that the Paint Spot had, in fact, served the wrong party with a notice to owner (NTO). But the court then simply ruled that state laws say this error didn't actually matter because the Trump company was aware of the lien regardless.

"We further hold that Trump failed to establish that it was adversely affected by the error contained in the NTO," the ruling says. "We also affirm the final judgment awarding attorney’s fees."

So now, the president of the United States of America, whose sons now technically run his companies, will be forced to either admit he got beat by a tiny Miami paint company or will need to file a whole appeal to the Florida Supreme Court over $32,000 in paint. Good thing he "became president" last week.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.