Fortune International Settles Suit With Agent Over Unpaid Commissions
A sales associate last week settled a lawsuit with one of Miami’s leading condo developers after alleging that she was owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid commissions, and told she'd made "enough money."
Angela Santamaria filed her case in April 2019 against Fortune International Group, Fortune Vice President of Operations Carlos Carballo and CEO Edgardo DeFortuna. The case had been slated for a non-jury trial Oct. 5.
In Santamaria's lawsuit, her attorneys wrote, “If Fortune’s misconduct was permitted without rebuke, it would encourage other real estate developers to engage in such reprehensible misconduct.”
Olga De Los Santos, an attorney for Fortune, told Bisnow last week, "The case has been settled." She did not disclose terms.
According to the complaint filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County, in May 2011, Santamaria was hired by Fortune International Group as a sales associate at Trump Hollywood. In November 2012, she was reassigned to another project, Beachwalk, in Hallandale Beach. In September 2013, she was rotated to sell units at Jade Signature in Sunny Isles Beach.
In November 2013, she signed an agreement stating she was supposed to receive a 0.13% commission on units sold at Jade, to be paid in installments — first when the sales contract was signed and a 25% deposit had been made, then when a 40% deposit was paid, and then when the unit closed. She would still receive commissions from one project as she was rotated to a new one, Santamaria claimed.
Around December 2014, she was rotated to the 1 Hotel South Beach, where she could earn a higher commission.
“She was promised by Fortune, Carballo and DeFortuna that she would continue to receive sales commissions from the Jade Signature for units procured by the team while she was working full time that had not closed,” Santamaria's court filings say. She continued to be paid some commissions from units she’d helped move at Jade, but in December 2015, those stopped.
“When Santamaria demanded her unpaid commissions from Fortune, it stated that she had received 'enough money' and that she should be satisfied with what she had already received, thereby forfeiting the balance of her earnings,” Santamaria’s complaint states.
Santamaria, a native of Medellin, Colombia, identified nearly 100 units from which she was owed commissions. She said she earned $654,467, but was only paid $432,123, and was still owed $222,343.
Santamaria had alleged breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing against Fortune, and fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation in the inducement breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy against the executives.
In a motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that once a salesperson leaves or is removed from the pool, a commission is not earned. The defendants claimed that Santamaria knew she would earn commissions at the new project, but give up commissions on the project she left.
In court filings, the defendants argued that the developers were not parties to Santamaria's employment agreement and thus should be shielded from liability. They alleged that her lawsuit amounted to "harassment, extortion and bullying-style litigation tactics.”
Attorneys for Santamaria and the Fortune execs didn't respond to requests for comment. She now sells units for Dezer Platinum Realty, according to her website.