FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Donald Trump was on the hot seat in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom over his decision to pull his name from a condo project on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Trump is being sued by a Boston restaurant owner who invested in the project.
Donald Trump said he pulled out of the deal because the real estate market went downhill, units weren’t selling and the developer went into foreclosure.
Two investors said they thought Trump was the developer when they plucked down their money.
“I like a very high level project and we would always be pushing to have a better job and he ended up getting it done,” Trump testified.
Trump spoke about what was supposed to be the Trump International Hotel and Tower on Fort Lauderdale Beach, a building that’s been empty for several years.
“I wish this project worked out well, I like when my projects do well,” Trump added.
Investors Michael Goodson and John Taglieri filed suit against Trump and claimed they bought units believing Trump was the developer, when in fact he was just a figurehead.
“Seventy-two times the Trump name comes up in the literature and nothing that says he is not the developer,” said Michael Goodson, the plaintiff.
“We believe all the advertising my clients were shown was false and misleading,” said the attorney for Goodson, Jared Beck.
In court, Trump was shown a brochure that says the project would be completed in 2007.
He later borrowed the judge’s glasses to read a paragraph in the condo documents that identify the actual developer as Roy Stillman, who ended up going into foreclosure when the real estate market tanked.
“The people didn’t buy their units and if you put them on a silver platter, people wouldn’t buy them because they were worthless,” said Trump.
When court was over the judge borrowed a line from Trump’s former show, “The Apprentice”.
“You may step down, you’re fired,” the judge said.
Minutes later, “The Donald” was being escorted by Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies through a side entrance. BSO said that was to avoid making a big scene at the main entrance to the courthouse.
The lawsuit accuses Trump of fraud and false advertising. When the case is over, 81 more investors, who have sued trump over this deal, are waiting for their day in court. The building is scheduled to open next year as a Conrad Hotel and Condo.