HOUSTON (CN) – A defense attorney who offered $1 million on “Dateline” to anyone who could discredit his theory that it was impossible for his condemned client to have flown from Orlando to Atlanta and get to a hotel 5 miles away from the airport in less than 30 minutes has to pay up, says a man who claims he made the trip in 28 minutes and filmed it.
Dustin Kolodziej sued Orlando-based attorney James Mason in Federal Court. Mason represented Nelson Serrano, a wealthy businessman who was accused of killing his partner and two others in 1997 in Orlando, according to the complaint.
Kolodziej was a law student at the time. He followed the Court TV broadcasts of the Serrano case, and says he heard Mason issue the challenge on “Dateline,” Mason insisted his client was innocent, even after Serrano was convicted and sentenced to death, the complaint states.
“I challenge anybody to show me, I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it,” Mason said, according to the complaint.
“If they can do it in the time allotted?” the Dateline reporter asked.
“Twenty eight minutes,” Mason said. “Can’t happen, didn’t happen.”
Kolodziej says he took on the challenge, and retraced Serrano’s steps on the 10th anniversary of the murders, “flying from Atlanta to Orlando, driving to the scene of the murders, then flying back to Atlanta. Kolodziej made the last leg of the journey – from the airplane to the La Quinta – within the required 28 minutes,” according to the complaint.
Kolodziej made a video tracking his trip and sent it, along with a demand letter, to Mason.
Mason wrote back that it was “just a joke,” and refused to pay, according to the complaint. When Kolodziej wrote him a second time demanding the money, Mason replied that he would “consider any further communication from [Kolodziej] to be in the nature of attempted extortion and/or mail fraud, and will act accordingly,” according to the complaint.
But Kolodziej insists that “Mason made an offer of a unilateral contract when he issued the challenge,” and he breached the agreement by refusing to pay.
Kolodziej is represented by David George with Connelly Baker in Houston.