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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

WSH Associate Eric Hockman And Other DCBA Directors Announce Registration for Annual Bench & Bar Conference

On February 8, the Dade County Bar Association (DCBA) will host its annual Bench & Bar Conference at the Coral Gables Country Club. WSH Associate Eric P. Hockman and his fellow DBCA directors will host 124 panelists in 23 diverse substantive law panels; participants have the opportunity to earn up to 8 continuing legal education (CLE) or continuing judicial education (CJE) credits by attending the course of their choice. Break-out sessions enable attendees to select the classes that best complement their practice area(s). More than several hundred attorneys and fifty-five federal and state judges have already registered to attend the program. To register for the event, please click here.

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Categories: LitigationAwards & RecognitionsConstruction Law
Tags: Eric P. HockmanFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerMiami Aviation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Construction LawyerMiami Construction LawyerMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Eric P. Hockman & Brooke P. Dolara

WSH Selected as One of South Florida Business Journal's Best Places to Work in 2013

The South Florida Business Journal (“SFBJ”) has named WSH as one of the 2013 Best Places to Work for the fourth year in a row. Each year, the SFBJ surveys employees at numerous firms to determine which employers in South Florida foster a great workplace. WSH placed among the finalists for medium-sized (51-149 employees) firms. On February 21, the SFBJ will announce the rankings of all the named finalists at its celebratory awards luncheon in Fort Lauderdale. We are thrilled to be chosen by the SFBJ for this honor.

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Categories: Awards & Recognitions
Tags: Awards & RecognitionsJamie A. ColeStephen J. HelfmanJoseph 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 Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association 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 LawMiami Public Transactions Law Fort Lauderdale Eminent Domain AttorneysMiami Eminent Domain AttorneysSourth Florida Eminent Domain AttorneysFort Lauderdale Homeowners' Association AttorneysMiami Homeowners' Association AttorneysSouth Florida Homeowners' Association AttorneysFort Lauderdale Bankruptcy AttorneysMiami Bankruptcy AttorneysSouth Florida Bankruptcy AttorneysFort 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 Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Employment Law AttorneysMiami Employment Law AttorneysSouth Florida Employment Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Labor Law AttorneysMiami Labor Law AttorneysSouth Florida Labor Law AttorneysFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Community Association LawFlorida Employment AttorneysFlorida Labor LawyersFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Construction LawyerFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerFort Lauderdale Real Estate LawyerFort Lauderdale Tax AttorneyMiami Construction LawyerMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Eminent Domain AttorneyMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Labor LawyerMiami Litigation AttorneyMiami Real Estate LawyerSouth Florida Employment Lawyers
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Fourth DCA Takes Firm Stance Against Party Seeking Appellate Attorneys' Fees

On December 19, the Fourth District Court of Appeal (the “Court”) determined that a request for attorneys’ fees in an original appellate proceeding must be included in a party’s petition, response or reply, or it will be considered untimely.

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Categories: LitigationAppellate Law & Practice
Tags: Jamie 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 LawyerMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Edward G. Guedes

WSH Attorneys Michael Popok and Mitch Burnstein Obtain Judgment for Large Bank in Commercial Foreclosure Action, Erasing $95M in Damages for Borrower

On December 17, WSH attorneys Michael S. Popok, Mitchell J. Burnstein, and Eric P. Hockman obtained a Final Judgment of Foreclosure and Voluntary Dismissal for United Central Bank in a 3-year long property dispute in Orange County Circuit Court, erasing $95 million in damages for the borrower. Business Division Judge Alice Blackwell heard four of the WSH team’s summary judgments: (a) to foreclose and obtain a deed; (b) to cancel a provision of the Deed in Lieu agreement relating to the bank’s future performance, which forms the basis of the Borrower’s Counterclaims; (c) to dismiss with prejudice as a matter of law, any claims based on purported “oral agreements” under the D’Oench doctrine, which prohibits a party who lends to him or herself from asserting an unrecorded agreement against the FDIC, and Federal common law; and (d) to deny the Borrower the ability to put on a damage case based on purported lost profits, diminution in value of the subject property, and lost “FF&E” (furniture, fixtures and equipment). The Court granted summary judgment of foreclosure to United Central Bank, placing the deed in the hands of the bank for future disposition. The Court also dismissed with prejudice any and all claims based on the purported oral agreements of the prior bank, granting summary judgment to the bank on the basis of the D’Oench doctrine. United Central Bank also obtained summary judgment as to the issue of damages; the Court held that the only damages the borrower would be entitled to would be for breaches in the Deed in Lieu agreement. As a result, the borrower’s counterclaim for $95 million took a significant beating.

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Categories: Litigation
Tags: Mitchell J. BurnsteinEric P. HockmanMichael S. PopokFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami 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 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): Michael S. Popok & Brooke P. Dolara

WSH Member Michael S. Popok Addresses La Ley Lawsuit with Miami Herald

For more than seven months, the City of Homestead has been defending itself in a lawsuit brought by La Ley Sports, the operator of the Homestead baseball stadium over La Ley’s $162,000.00 delinquency to the city for unpaid insurance and utility bills. Since La Ley began operating the stadium in 2011, the arrearage has crept up. In October, a circuit court judge dismissed the lawsuit and gave the operator an opportunity to re-file the complaint. After La Ley filed its amended complaint, the City asked a judge to dismiss the case. The Miami Herald recently contacted WSH Member and Partner-in-Charge of the Miami office, Michael S. Popok, for his thoughts on the lawsuit. Michael stated that the City’s position is that the operator owes the City of Homestead approximately $100,000.00.

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Categories: Litigation
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 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