Miami, Florida – Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo is facing increasing legal challenges as two businessmen, who previously won a multi-million dollar federal civil trial against him, are now pushing for his removal from office. This latest development adds another layer to the already complex and contentious situation surrounding the embattled commissioner.
Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, the proprietors of the renowned Ball & Chain nightclub, have initiated a new lawsuit with a significant demand. They are asking the courts to remove Carollo from his position, asserting that he has “forfeited his right to office.” Their argument hinges on a violation of their First Amendment rights, which they claim occurred during Carollo’s tenure.
The lawsuit specifically references the “Citizens’ Bill of Rights” contained within Miami’s city charter. This critical document stipulates that the city must not interfere with the freedom of speech rights of its citizens. Furthermore, it clearly states that any public official or employee found to have willfully violated this section should immediately lose their office or employment.
The context of this legal action stems from allegations made by Fuller and Pinilla during the trial. They accused Carollo of harboring a personal vendetta against them, primarily because they supported his political rival. This accusation adds a personal and political dimension to the legal proceedings, suggesting motivations beyond mere official duties.
Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez has responded to this new lawsuit. In a statement released on Wednesday morning, she emphasized that the federal case against Commissioner Carollo is still in the midst of post-trial motions and an appeal process. Mendez criticized the lawsuit as another attempt to harass Carollo and burden the City of Miami with additional legal expenses. She pointed out the lack of standing for the plaintiffs in this type of action and mentioned that the matter is not yet ripe due to the ongoing appeal.
Adding to the gravity of Carollo’s situation, he has been ordered to pay over $60 million in damages. In a dramatic turn of events last week, a federal court directed U.S. Marshals to seize assets amounting to this sum from the commissioner. This order represents a significant and tangible impact on Carollo, far beyond the realm of political and legal rhetoric.