Vern Buchanan scores big legal win in fight with former business partner

SARASOTA -- In a long-running case involving Rep. Vern Buchanan and a former business partner, a judge has said he will issue a directed verdict in Buchanan's favor, and award what could be as much as a $7 million judgment to the Sarasota congressman, Buchanan's attorneys said Thursday.

Circuit Court Judge Peter Dubensky has not yet filed a formal written order in the case involving Sam Kazran, the congressman's former business partner.

But Buchanan's attorneys said a final judgment is expected soon.

"What'll happen is we will prepare a proposed final judgment, and run it by Kazran's lawyers as to the form of the judgment, but not its content," said Charles Bartlett, who represents Buchanan in the trial in Sarasota. "We'll try to address that, and send the judgment on to the judge to be signed -- I would estimate Tuesday or Wednesday next week."

Kazran's attorney, G. Michael Keenan of West Palm Beach, said in an email message he had forwarded a request for comment in connection with the case to his client but by late Thursday, neither one had returned phone calls.

Part of the case involved Buchanan's counterclaim against Kazran: Buchanan said he loaned $2.5 million to Kazran, which was never paid back.

Buchanan's claim went to a jury, which decided in his favor, but the amount of the award was not determinied Thursday, since attorneys were still figuring how much interest should be added to the principal, said Bartlett.

In a partial transcript Bartlett forwarded, the judge says: "I don't think I've ever seen a case so lacking in proof to sustain the allegations."

Kazran, a former business partner of Buchanan's in a Jacksonville car dealership, filed suit in 2008.

Kazran had said settling their financial dispute was conditional on him signing an affidavit stating the congressman wasn't involved or aware of improper reimbursements dealership employees made to his political campaign.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.