3d DCA Watch — War of the Roses, Tolstoy Edition

Boy for a judge subject to mandatory retirement Senior Judge Schwartz stays pretty active. That’s the main lesson learned here in today’s installment of our regular feature, 3d DCA Watch:

Braswell v. Ryan Investments and Goldstein v. Braswell:

These opinions both authored by Senior Judge Schwartz deal with aspects of the divorce of the mega-rich Braswells, and efforts by the ex-wife to collect on the former husband’s assets, which were mostly placed in various corporate entities. In Ryan Investments, Judge Schwartz finds that there could be no piercing of the corporate veil to reach the marital house because the corporation preexisted the debt sought to be hid, or something like that:

Mrs. Braswell correctly states that, under Estudios, it does not matter that the corporation itself was formed, as here, prior to, rather than at the time of its alleged improper use. See Dania Jai-Alai Palace, Inc., 450 So. 2d at 1120-21. This contention, however, addresses nothing but straw because, contrary to her representations, the trial court made no ruling to the contrary. Neither do we. Finally, there is nothing in the statement of the rule or any authority, to support the strange proposition for which Mrs. Braswell argues, that the improper use of the corporation need only “preexist” the subsequent attempt, as here, to reach the secreted asset, no matter how many years subsequent or how unrelated to that misconduct.

Ah yes, “strange propositions,” “nothing but straw,” the soothing tones of getting your hat handed to you by the 3d DCA. That never gets old.

In the related Goldstein matter, Judge Schwartz drops this amusing footnote:

This is at least the twentieth appellate chapter of the Tolstoyan saga which began with Braswell v. Braswell, 763 So. 2d 331 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (table). Only just now, the end may be in distant sight.

What sweet, charming dicta! Given how plainly relevant and necessary that footnote is, I know who I want ruling on the twenty first appellate chapter, particularly where the relief demanded is reversal and remand for further proceedings….

Congrats BTW to Bert and Rebecca Ocariz at SHB, assisted by the very able Danny Rogers.