Banco Industrial de Venezuela C.A. v. de Saad: Florida Supreme Court June 9, 2011

De Saad was the former vice-president and general manager of Banco. De Saad was alleged to have facilitated the deposit of approximately $4 million in drug proceeds into Banco accounts. De Saad was charged with ten counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money. De Saad retained the services of attorney Beeler to represent her in the criminal proceedings. As part of their fee agreement, de Saad assigned Beeler her right to seek indemnification for attorneys’ fees and costs under sections 607.0850(1) and (3), Florida Statutes. After a lengthy trial, the trial judge granted de Saad’s motion for judgment of acquittal as to all counts. However, De Saad eventually was charged and pled guilty to one count of money structuring.

De Saad then sought indemnification from Banco for attorneys’ fees incurred in her defense of the money laundering and conspiracy charges. Banco denied both claims. De Saad then filed a state court action seeking statutory indemnification pursuant to section 607.0850 to recover the costs and attorneys’ fees in defending the money laundering charges. Beeler filed a complaint in intervention based on the assigned right to attorneys’ fees and costs in defending de Saad on the money laundering charges. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of de
Saad and Beeler.

On appeal, Banco contended that summary judgment in favor of de Saad and Beeler was improper because a question remained as to whether the statutory requirements of indemnification were satisfied. The Third District, applying a Delaware case, affirmed the trial court, explaining that “de Saad was prosecuted ‘by reason of the fact’ that she was [a] director, officer, employee, or agent of the corporation and was acquitted because she was ‘successful on
the merits or otherwise.'”