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Judge dismisses federal case involving Fashion Mall in Plantation

Trials and ArbitrationJustice SystemCourts and the Judiciary

A federal case related to the misappropriation of millions of dollars for the redevelopment of Fashion Mall in Plantation was dismissed Tuesday for lack of jurisdiction and refiled in state court.

Tangshan Ganglu Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., a Chinese investment firm and project's majority owner, had filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Wei Chen, the minority owner and against Mapuche, LLC, the company he manages and which was set up to turn the Fashion Mall into 321 North, a mixed-use development consisting of retail, restaurants, office space and residential units.

The Chinese firm alleged Chen misappropriated about $48.7 million, allowed the mall properties to deteriorate accumulating more than $50,000 in code violations and "caused a loss of confidence in Mapuche's ability to complete the mall project," according to court documents.

The firm had also motioned to dissolve Mapuche and appoint a custodian to manage the company's affairs.

Scott Marder, an attorney representing the Chinese firm, said the ruling "is just a technical, procedural order that has no impact on the strength of our case."

"The judge did not look at the merits of the case," Marder said. "He simply said that it should be filed in state court instead of federal court."

They have now refiled the case in Broward Circuit Court, Marder said.

"We think U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn did the right thing," said Daniel DeSouza, an attorney representing Mapuche. "It's not proper for federal court."

Chen's attorney did not return requests for comment.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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