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Major Banks Obtain Dismissal of Multiple Counts in Libor Case

On March 29, sixteen national financial institutions scored a major victory in federal court when U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Rice Buchwald dismissed several claims in private lawsuits alleging antitrust violations that resulted in injured investment returns for a number of plaintiffs. In 2011, the City of Baltimore and the New Britain Firefighters’ Benefit Fun filed a complaint against a dozen major U.S. banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the banks manipulated the Libor, a key metric that sets interest rates using data computed daily from domestic and international banks. The plaintiffs claimed that by "suppressing" the Libor, the banks concealed their level of risk during the financial crisis. In 2012, the banks filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the evidence does not support the existence of a conspiracy to manipulate rates. In addition to the dismissal of the antitrust claims, Judge Buchwald also partly dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims of commodities manipulation, a claim of racketeering, and state-law claims. Although the plaintiffs’ claim that the banks’ suppression of the Libor resulted in harm to traders who bet on interest rates was not dismissed, Judge Buchwald’s decision may give the banks’ leverage in future settlement talks.

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Categories: LitigationLocal GovernmentFederal LawFederal CourtsClass Actions
Tags: Governmental LitigationMitchell A. BiermanJamie A. ColeChad S. FriedmanEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaRichard Jay WeissDavid M. WolpinFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of First Amendment Challenge Against North Bay Village

On March 22, WSH obtained a favorable ruling for North Bay Village before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Eleventh Circuit refused to overturn the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging North Bay Village’s adult entertainment use regulations. Partner Edward G. Guedes, Chair of WSH’s Appellate Practice Group, handled the appeal for the City.

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Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)LitigationAppellate Law & PracticeFederal LawLand Use & Zoning (Private)Federal CourtsConstitutional Law
Tags: Jamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaSusan L. TrevarthenLaura K. WendellMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida LitigatorsFirst AmendmentEleventh Circuit Court of AppealsFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Edward G. Guedes & Brooke P. Dolara

Tiara Condominium: The Final Chapter in the Economic Loss Rule in Florida?

In 1987, the Florida Supreme Court decided the seminal case of Florida Power & Light Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 510 So. 2d 899 (Fla. 1987), which marked the beginning of what would become nearly three decades of the application of the "Economic Loss Rule" (or Economic Loss Doctrine)("ELR") in Florida to bar tort claims for "purely economic losses" that were not accompanied by personal injury or damage to other property. As the Court would later explain in Casa Clara Condominium Ass'n, Inc. v. Charley Toppino And Sons, Inc., 620 So. 2d 1244, 1246 (Fla. 1993), purely economic losses are "damages for inadequate value, costs of repair and replacement of the defective product, or consequent loss of profits -- without any claim of personal injury or damage to other property." While application of the rule in Westinghouse began in the context of products liability--to bar FPL's claims in negligence for defective steam generators designed, manufactured and furnished by Westinghouse--the Court quickly expanded its use to services in the case of AFM Corp. v. Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co., 515 So. 2d 180 (Fla. 1987)--to deny recovery in negligence for what amounted to a breach of contact by Southern Bell which used an incorrect phone number in an advertisement for AFM causing only economic damages.

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Categories: LitigationCondominium AssociationsHomeowners' AssociationsConstruction Law
Tags: Condos and HOAsFlorida Supreme CourtGary L. BrownJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesJoshua D. KrutMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaDamagesFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Homeowners' Association AttorneysMiami Homeowners' Association AttorneysSouth Florida Homeowners' Association AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsEleventh Circuit Court of AppealsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Condo Association LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Construction LawyerMiami Construction LawyerMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Gary L. Brown

FINRA Panel Holds Wall Street Powerhouse Can Prohibit Investors From Participating In Class Action Suits

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization, recently announced that it will appeal a ruling that allowed Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Charles Schwab”) to require customers to waive their right to participate in class-action suits.

In February 2013, a FINRA hearing panel upheld Charles Schwab’s use of arbitration agreements that require customers to bring all disputes into FINA-run arbitration forums. In 2012, FINRA brought charges against the company, alleging that its arbitration agreements violated FINRA rules permitting customers to pursue class action claims in lieu of arbitration. FINRA claimed that by requiring customers to bring all disputes into arbitration forums, Charles Schwab forced customers to waive their right to participate in class-action suits. The panel held that, although Charles Schwab’s actions violated FINRA rules, the FINRA rules themselves violated the National Arbitration Act. The ruling essentially prohibits investors from pursuing class action lawsuits if they have signed arbitration agreements. FINRA has forty five days to appeal to its National Adjudicatory Council, its internal appellate board.

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Categories: LitigationAlternative Dispute Resolution
Tags: Jamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsAlternative Dispute ResolutionFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation AttorneySecurities and Exchange Commission
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Florida Legislators Consider Changes to Existing Foreclosure Laws

For the third time since 2010, Florida lawmakers introduced a bill designed to accelerate the foreclosure process in the state. House Bill 87, otherwise known as the "Fair Foreclosure Act,” offers a number of changes to civil procedures in foreclosure cases, including limiting discovery time available to owners and requiring lenders to file the original note or certification that they have the note. The bill makes these changes retroactively, so pending cases would be affected as by the legislation. Proponents of the Fair Foreclosure Act argue that it provides community associations with leverage against banks that file foreclosure lawsuits against delinquent owners and then fail to litigate the case aggressively. By speeding up the foreclosure process, they argue, the Fair Foreclosure Act helps community associations get rid of delinquent owners who incur massive arrearages during the pendency of a long foreclosure process. Detractors counter that the bill does not incentivize the banks to prosecute a foreclosure aggressively, and that most of the changes place too great a burden on homeowners.

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Categories: LitigationCondominium AssociationsHomeowners' AssociationsCivil Procedure
Tags: CollectionsCondos and HOAsGoverning DocumentsCovenants and RestrictionsJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesJoshua D. KrutMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaFlorida LegislatureMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association AttorneysMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Homeowners' Association AttorneysMiami Homeowners' Association AttorneysSouth Florida Homeowners' Association AttorneysFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Community Association LawFlorida Condo Association LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation Attorneys
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Florida Supreme Court Narrows Privilege Protecting Attorneys from Tort Suits for Conduct or Comments Made in Litigation or Pre-Litigation Investigations

On February 14, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court handed down its decision in Delmonico v. Traynor, which was somewhat less than a Valentine’s Day card to lawyers around the State of Florida. Historically, a lawyer engaged in litigation and pre-litigation investigation of matters has enjoyed an absolute privilege that protects him or her from being sued in tort for comments made or conduct engaged in while handling the litigation on behalf of a client. Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court articulated a new rule, concluding that when a lawyer is investigating a matter in litigation, but engages in ex parte communications with a non-party witness, comments made to that witness that result in harm to one of the parties are actionable in tort. The lawyer may not invoke an absolute privilege, but rather only a qualified privilege, provided the comments were related to the substance of the litigation.

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Categories: LitigationAppellate Law & PracticeTorts
Tags: Florida Supreme CourtJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaLaura K. WendellFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Edward G. Guedes

Bisaria Declared Fugitive After Failing to Appear for Arraignment

On January 25, a federal judge in Chicago declared Boca Raton developer Atul Bisara a fugitive after Bisaria failed to appear for his arraignment on fraud charges. In October, federal prosecutors filed an indictment against Bisaria and his contractor, Steve Lewis, alleging that both men engaged in a scheme to defraud two Chicago area banks and obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises and material omissions. Specifically, the indictment alleged that Bisara and Lewis created false invoices for $1.9 million in steel to be used in the renovation of a Boca Raton hotel. Bisaria’s companies received loans from Broadway Bank and Mutual Bank to fund the project. However, the steel was never delivered and no work had been completed. The indictment further alleged that Bisaria used the proceeds of the loans for personal expenses and failed real estate ventures.

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Categories: LitigationContractsCriminal Law
Tags: Jamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesEric P. HockmanMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsWhite Collar CrimeFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation AttorneyJohn J. Quick
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

WSH Named Top Law Firm by South Florida Legal Guide, Attorneys Also Recognized

We are proud to announce that the South Florida Legal Guide (“SFLG”) has named WSH among the Top Law Firms in this year’s edition of its annual publication. SFLG is a premier resource serving the tri-county legal community. Originally launched in 2000, SFLG provides a convenient, easily accessible print and online resource for the region’s professional community. In addition to WSH’s inclusion as a “Top Law Firm,” several of our Members and Partners were honored as 2013 “Top Lawyers” and “Top Up and Comers.”

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Categories: Awards & Recognitions
Tags: Mitchell A. BiermanNina L. BoniskeGary L. BrownJamie A. ColeIgnacio G. Del ValleEdward G. GuedesStephen J. HelfmanGilberto PastorizaClifford A. SchulmanJoseph H. SerotaRichard Jay WeissFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Local Government LawMiami Local Government LawSouth Florida Local Government LawMiami Aviation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Governmental Affairs AttorneysMiami Governmental Affairs AttorneysSouth Florida Governmental Affairs AttorneysFort Lauderdale Municipal AttorneysMiami Municipal AttorneysSouth Florida Municipal AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersSouth Florida Private Transactions AttorneysSouth Florida Private Transactions LawyersFort Lauderdale Private Transactions AttorneysMiami Private Transactions AttorneysSouth Florida Public Transactions LawFort Lauderdale Public Transactions LawMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Real Estate AttorneysMiami Real Estate AttorneysSouth Florida Real Estate AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Real Estate AttorneysMiami Commercial Real Estate AttorneysSouth Florida Commercial Real Estate AttorneysFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Construction LawyerFort Lauderdale Real Estate LawyerMiami Construction LawyerMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation AttorneyMiami Real Estate LawyerAbigail Watts-FitzGerald
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Koontz Property Rights Case

On January 15, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District. The Court granted certiorari to the appellant last October. The case involves Cory Koontz, a landowner who owned 15 acres of land, the majority of which fell within a riparian habitat-protection zone in the Econlockhatchee River hydrological basin and contained protected wetlands. The development of the land was under the jurisdiction of the St. Johns River Water Management District. The question presented in Koontz is whether a governmental entity’s denial of a permit can be the basis for a regulatory takings claim when it is denied solely because the landowner refused to agree to proposed conditions to the permit. The Court would also determine whether the decisions reached in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825, 107 S. Ct. 3141, 97 L.Ed. 2d 677 (1987) (holding that there must be an essential “nexus” between the permitted activity and the condition imposed on the permit) and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. f374, 114 S. Ct. 2309, 129 L. Ed. 2d 304 (1994) (requiring “rough proportionality” between the condition placed on the land and the extent of the impact of the proposed development”) are applicable to the present case, which involved no requirement to dedicate an interest in real property. In its 2011 decision, the Florida Supreme Court held that the Nollan/Dolan cases both involved the grant of permits rather than permit denials, and were only applicable where the condition imposed on the permit involves a dedication of the owner’s real property interest.

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Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)Environmental/SustainabilityLitigationEminent Domain
Tags: Governmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtMitchell J. BurnsteinJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokClifford A. SchulmanJoseph H. SerotaSusan L. TrevarthenMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Eminent Domain AttorneysMiami Eminent Domain AttorneysSourth Florida Eminent Domain AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Environmental LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Eminent Domain Attorney
Author(s): Susan L. Trevarthen & Peter D. Waldman

WSH Obtains Significant Trial Victory for City of Miramar In Bid Protest Litigation

On January 10, WSH obtained a trial victory for the City of Miramar in a lawsuit brought by Wheelabrator/Waste Management. The lawsuit challenged the award by the City of a contract for solid waste disposal. The contract was the result of the first competitive process in Broward County for solid waste disposal in more than twenty years, and broke the monopoly that Wheelabrator has held during that time period. The Court ruled that the City's procurement process was fair and proper, including the use of a "best and final offer" procedure. WSH Partner Daniel L. Abbott and Managing Director Jamie A. Cole litigated the case over 5 days, with substantial pre-trial assistance from Partner Douglas R. Gonzales and Associates Anthony C. Soroka and Samuel I. Zeskind.

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Categories: LitigationGovernment AffairsLocal GovernmentContracts
Tags: Governmental LitigationMunicipal GovernmentSpecial Counsel to Local GovernmentDaniel L. AbbottMitchell A. BiermanJamie A. ColeChad S. FriedmanDouglas R. GonzalesEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokAnthony C. SorokaRichard Jay WeissDavid M. WolpinSamuel I. ZeskindFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Local Government LawMiami Local Government LawSouth Florida Local Government LawFort Lauderdale Governmental Affairs AttorneysMiami Governmental Affairs AttorneysSouth Florida Governmental Affairs AttorneysFort Lauderdale Municipal AttorneysMiami Municipal AttorneysSouth Florida Municipal AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Jamie A. Cole