After failing to give minority partner Cindy Diffenderfer $550,000 as part of a settlement agreement, a Harvey Hernandez-led firm will now have to pay her $963,000, plus attorney fees.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge David C. Miller last week ruled that Hernandez’s Miami-based NGD Homesharing violated terms of the May settlement that included paying Diffenderfer $1.05 million. Diffenderfer co-founded and owns a 10 percent stake in NGD Homesharing, which manages and rents out apartments and condos on behalf of individual owners to short-term renters on platforms such as Airbnb.
Hernandez, a Miami-based developer who heads Newgard Realty and Newgard Development Group, is NGD Homesharing’s CEO. He did not respond to a voicemail and email requesting comment.
In 2019, after she was fired from her position as NGD Homesharing’s chief marketing officer, Diffenderfer sued the company for wrongful termination and sought more than $600,000 in deferred compensation. Diffenderfer is currently managing partner of Orion Haus, a company that partners with multifamily real estate owners to transform their properties into short-term rentals.
According to recent court filings, Diffenderfer alleged NGD Homesharing paid half the settlement, but subsequently balked at paying the remainder. The alleged default triggered financial penalties, including $400,000 in liquidated damages and roughly $13,000 that represents an 18 percent annual interest charge, Miller’s order states.
“My client is relieved and thankful that Judge Miller reached the right decision,” said Jason Goldman, Diffenderfer’s attorney. “My client deserves what she is receiving now, which is justice.”
John Kirkpatrick, NGD Homesharing’s lawyer, said the company plans to appeal. “We strongly disagree with the court’s order,” Kirkpatrick said. “NGD Homesharing will be exercising its appellate remedies.”
Miller also ordered NGD Homeharing to provide Diffenderfer with documents and proof of her ownership stake that the company had failed to produce, including certificates showing her 10 percent stake in NGD and tax returns for 2017 through 2021.
In her lawsuit, Diffenderfer alleged NGD Homesharing needed a court-appointed receiver and was headed to insolvency due to Hernandez’s mismanagement of company funds. She accused him of using $275,000 in NGD money to settle a legal dispute with another co-founder, Barbara Salk, as well as spending company funds on yacht fuel, plastic surgery and vacations to France, Spain and Aspen, Colorado.
Hernandez and his companies are no strangers to litigation. In 2019, the developer settled a lawsuit by the condo association for BrickellHouse, a 46-unit condominium he completed five years earlier. Hernandez paid $275,000 and the association dismissed all its claims against him, stemming from BrickellHouse’s alleged car garage malfunctioning and forcing residents to park in other buildings.
Also in 2019, Airbnb filed a lawsuit against NGD. Airbnb alleged NGD defrauded the short-term rental company in a partnership and stole $1 million. NGD countersued, alleging Airbnb engaged in bad faith and breached its contract. Airbnb and NGD reached an undisclosed settlement in 2020.
NGD Homesharing also sued RealPage, alleging the popular property management software company stole trade secrets and employees from Hernandez’s firm. That case is still pending.