August 18 2008
Daily Business Review

Case: Liliana Perez et al v. Quest Security Services, Frank Montejo and Ileana Montejo.

Case No: 2003-20626-CA-13

Description: Wage dispute

Filing date: Sept. 5, 2003

Trial date: July 29, 2008

Judge: Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Pedro Echarte Jr.

Plaintif attorneys: Pelayo Duran, The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran, Miami; Adis Riveron, Adis L. Riveron P.A., Miami; and Mercy Pina-Brito P.A., Miami

Defense attorneys: None

Jury decision: $3.5 million

Details: A wage dispute arose between Quest Security, a defunct contractor, and Perez and 16 other employees. The company, which was operated by Frank and Ileana Montejo, handled security at Miami International Airport.

Plaintiff case: The plaintiffs alleged Quest failed to pay overtime and minimum wages for three years while they worked for Quest, violating county ordinances and state and federal whistle-blower and labor laws.

They alleged Quest fired them in violation of the state’s whistle-blower act after they complained about violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Defense Case: In court papers filed in Quest’s defense by an attorney who dropped out of the case in May 2007, former company lawyer John Agnetti of Hoffman Larin & Agnetti of Hoffman Larin & Agnetti contended Quest had no liability.

Outcome: Echarte awarded a default judgment on liability in the plaintiff’s favor last November. The jury, asked to determine damages only, awarded $3.5 million to 15 plaintiffs. Two of the original plaintiffs dropped out of the case. State corporate records show Quest is no longer in operation and it remains uncertain whether the award is collectible.

Comments: “We feel vindicated and we’re very pleased with the jury verdict,” Duran said, declining to comment on the litigation itself. “Everone feels vindicated that justice has been served.”

Post verdict: Echarte has not approved the verdict yet.

– Billy Shields

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