Shirlee’s off the hook

Cosmetic shop’s lawyer quits; case against Rip-Off Rapid Response Team dismissed

The lawyer who filed a lawsuit against 14 local consumer advocates on behalf of the unlicensed cosmetics shop Oro Gold, formerly at 518 Duval St., asked a local judge to allow him to withdraw as counsel for the business. Now the case has been dismissed.

Miami attorney Antonio G. Hernandez stated in a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel that “Requiring the undersigned to remain on the case would impose an unreasonable financial burden on the undersigned and would adversely affect Plaintiff’s ability to prosecute his case.”

The business had 30 days to retain new counsel but failed to do so and Circuit Judge Timothy J. Keonig signed an order dismissing the case today.

The business had named supporters of the Key West Rip-Off Rapid Response Team as defendants in a lawsuit claiming libel and tortious interference of business. The litigation asked for $250,000 in compensation for damages allegedly caused by the group’s sidewalk protests in front of the Duval Street business.

Among those named in the lawsuit was 93-year-old longtime Key West resident Shirlee Ezmirly. A U.S. Navy veteran and local consumer advocate, Shirlee has been picketing unlicensed cosmetic shops in Key West for the last three years. Learning of the news, Shirlee said, “I’m glad that happened; that makes me feel very happy.”

Asked if she was ever scared about being sued, Shirlee responded, “No, because I’ve always followed the law, and in 93 years, I’ve never been to jail.”

Rip-Off Team spokesperson Bruce Mitchell dismissed the lawsuit as, “a legal bologna sandwich designed to scare protesters and infringe on their legal rights. We are looking at possible legal action against the company, it’s owners and their attorney. There is legal recourse against this type of frivolous lawsuit, and we are exploring all our options.”

Local attorney Darren Horan represents the Rip-Off team.

Oro Gold had a long history of city code violations, consumer complaints and two license suspensions. Rip-Off Team members had staged sidewalk protests in front of the business for two years before it closed in April and cleared the storefront.

The 14 defendants, all supporters of the Key West Rip-Off Rapid Response Team, are planning a big celebration at Willie T’s after COVID.

The Rip-Off Team can be reached at keywestrrt@gmail.com or on Facebook page Key West Rip Off Rapid Response Team.