Ex parte Sergio Acosta.Annotate this Case
Sergio Acosta petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the circuit court to vacate an order granting a motion filed by Trinity Bank to strike Acosta's jury demand with respect to all counts in Acosta's counterclaim and third-party complaint in the bank's action against him. The bank filed filed suit seeking a judgment against Acosta for financial losses it incurred after Acosta defaulted on certain "Multipurpose Note and Security
Agreement[s]" he had executed with the bank. The bank alleged that Acosta had executed two secured notes and one unsecured note, which, it said, Acosta had failed and/or refused to pay; that the bank had foreclosed on the properties pledged as collateral on the secured notes; and that proper credit had been applied to the notes. The bank sought a judgment for the balance due on the notes, plus interest, fees, costs, and attorney fees. Acosta filed a counterclaim against the bank, as well as a third-party complaint against two of its officers, alleging that he had entered into a business relationship with R&B Properties under the name of SilverPalm Properties, LLC; that loans from the bank were the principal source of funding for SilverPalm; that the financing plan was for SilverPalm to procure from the bank the funds to construct the properties, for SilverPalm to pay the interest on the notes until the properties were rented, and for SilverPalm to pay off the notes once the properties generated sufficient rental income to do so. Acosta and R&B Properties dissolved SilverPalm because of a downturn in the economy; but the bank induced that Acosta was personally liable for the notes previously secured only by SilverPalm The bank at some point advised Acosta that additional security was required to continue financing the notes, that Acosta declined to pledge additional security. The bank then called the notes due and foreclosed on the properties securing the notes. Acosta requested an accounting for the amounts claimed by the bank on the notes and the mortgages securing the notes, and he sought damages based on allegations of wantonness, breach of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel. The counterclaim and third-party complaint included a demand for a jury trial. In its motion to strike Acosta's jury demand, the Bank relied on a jury-waiver provision in four Assignments of Rents and Leases that Acosta had executed in consideration of the notes. The trial court initially denied the bank's motion to strike, and then granted it after reconsideration. The Supreme Court concluded that Acosta demonstrated a clear legal right to a jury trial on the claims asserted in his counterclaim and third-party complaint. As such, the Court granted the petition and directed the trial court to vacate its order striking Acosta's jury demand.