Robert Mears and Benjamin Mears of Manatee County and David Sidoti of Riverview filed suit in the Hillsborough County courts against two entities, The Kearney Companies with main offices in Riverview and AG EHC II LEN Multistate 1, LLC, a Delaware company with ownership of Florida properties.

$5,000 Bounty For Capture Of Alleged Felony Trespassers Leads To Defamation Lawsuit

Robert Mears and Benjamin Mears of Manatee County and David Sidoti of Riverview filed suit in the Hillsborough County courts against two entities, The Kearney Companies with main offices in Riverview and AG EHC II LEN Multistate 1, LLC, a Delaware company with ownership of Florida properties.
Purported real-estate investors David Sidoti, Benjamin Mears, and Robert Mears say they are being falsely accused of trespassing on a vacant 184-acre lot in Riverview

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – The site developers of Tampa’s International Mall and various other commercial, residential, and roadway projects has been sued by site seers of an unfinished project in Riverview.

On April 28, three men – Robert Mears and Benjamin Mears of Manatee County and David Sidoti of Riverview filed suit in the Hillsborough County courts against two entities, The Kearney Companies with main offices in Riverview and AG EHC II LEN Multistate 1, LLC, a Delaware company with ownership of Florida properties.

According to the lawsuit, earlier in April, the three Plaintiffs visited an undeveloped site located at 13621 Rhodine Road in Riverview “as part of researching a potential real estate investment.”

No public records identified any of the Plaintiffs as owners of any real estate investment companies, but they stepped onto the unfinished, 184-acre site, which did not contain any dwelling or conveyances. The lawsuit states, “Defendants failed to post any trespass signage anywhere upon the Property in accordance with Florida Statute 810.09 or 810.011.”

An unknown individual appeared and asked the Plaintiffs to leave the property, which the lawsuit claims they promptly did. No police report was made regarding the incident to the Plaintiffs’ knowledge.

However, the Defendants erected a sign on the property, located on a main thoroughfare, offering a $5,000 reward for “the identity, arrest and felony conviction of the three Plaintiffs, along with two other persons the Plaintiffs claim they do not know. The signage includes photographs of the five accused individuals. The sign also accuses the Plaintiffs of felony trespassing and urges anyone with information to contact Kearney directly to claim the reward.

The lawsuit emphasizes that, “It is impossible for Plaintiffs to have committed felony trespassing, given the lack of a dwelling/conveyance at the property or construction trespass signs that warn that entry upon the site constituted a felony. In fact, given the lack of signage, it was impossible for Plaintiffs to have even committed misdemeanor trespassing, as they left the property once asked to.”

The Plaintiffs believe there was no reason for the signage and offering a reward, except to damage the Plaintiffs by calling upon private citizens and law enforcement officers to apprehend them for a crime they allegedly did not commit.

The Count against AG as the property owner and Kearney as the site developer is “Defamation” due to harm caused to the Plaintiffs’ reputations. They claim to also live in fear of being apprehended and suffering hatred, distrust and ridicule in both their personal and professional lives.

The Plaintiffs’ attorney is Eric S. Koenig of Trenam, Kenker, Scharf, Barkin, Frye, O’Neill and Mullis, P.A. of Tampa. An inquiry was made, but Koenig did not respond.

The legal department of The Kearney Companies was contacted, but no one could be reached.

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