Special Counsel Quits, Comments by Commissioner May Have Been ‘Breaking Point’

Allegedly, Commissioner Marlon Bolton’s comments are the reason Special Counsel Max Lohman handed in his resignation.

 

By Agrippina Fadel

Attorney Max Lohman, special counsel during the City of Tamarac’s litigation with 13th Floor Homes, handed his resignation letter, stating he hopes the city reaches a satisfactory outcome in the legal dispute with the developer.

Lohman was the city’s special counsel for the past year-and-a-half and handed in his resignation on July 13 to Mayor Michelle Gomez.

He said he understands the city commission is “dissatisfied with the results” of his work and respects that the commission has a desire to go in another direction. “And even if the three of you wanted me to stay, I don’t want to continue as your counsel because I am not in the habit of representing split bodies,” said Lohman.

One of the split bodies, and source of his resignation is Commissioner Marlon Bolton.

According to Commissioner Elvin Villalobos, the attorney may have reached the “breaking point.” with Bolton during a “shade” or a private meeting last month.

“At the shade meeting set up to discuss the matters regarding the 13th Floor lawsuit, Bolton said Lohman was not doing his job and spoke very negatively about him,” said Villalobos, adding that Lohman then put Bolton on the spot and replied, “If you don’t like what I am doing, find a different counsel, but this is ridiculous. You are out of line.”

Villalobos said he found the exchange and resulting resignation very disappointing.

“This is a second attorney with a good reputation and from a great firm who quit on us due to the fact that Commissioner Marlon Bolton is very hard to work with. [Bolton] does not have a law degree — but he is telling the attorneys representing the city how to do their jobs,” he added.

In a 2016 interview with Tamarac Talk, Bolton said he “soon will be enrolling in law school.”

City attorney Samuel Goren abruptly resigned after 15 years in December 2020 – less than a day after a commission meeting after Bolton accused him of being “untrustworthy.”

“For someone to tell a professional attorney they are not doing a good job, blast and disrespect them in front of people is not a good look for the city commission,” said Villalobos.

During the public comments, attorney Etan Mark, who represents the 13th Floor, reminded the commission that Tamarac lost at the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

“The court found that [13th Floor hearing] must be held as a quasi-judicial hearing – something that we have been trying to get across for a long time,” said Mark.

In 2021, 13th Floor Homes sued the City of Tamarac over its handling of the Woodlands Golf Course project. This was after the city commission refused to provide another extension to the developer before its public hearing — insisting it must be held as a legislative hearing.

Lawyers for the 13th Floor insist the hearing must be quasi-judicial and claim that the process by which the city considers Woodlands development plan violates the law.

Lohman told the commission he stands by the advice he had given regarding the 13th Floor Homes litigation.

Gomez thanked him for his service and assistance to Tamarac. In anticipation of Lohman’s resignation, City Attorney John Herin already found a replacement for the special counsel.

“The city received a draft engagement letter from Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law to represent the city in this matter moving forward. They fit all the things we are looking for –– they are a Broward-based firm with strong land use practice attorneys and litigators and are extremely familiar with the process of appearing in front of circuit court judges in the county, including Judge [Keathan] Frink,” said Herin.

The cost of the new attorney is similar to what the city was paying Lohman, who billed the city for about $45,000 – $55,000 in his year and a half as the special counsel. Gomez suggested asking Tripp Scott for a discounted rate on hours the attorneys will spend catching up on all the paperwork and history of the litigation.

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Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.

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