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There are many things your business may have to address, and knowing how to respond effectively is essential. One of these may be facing a lawsuit in some far-away jurisdiction where you don’t operate. What you definitely should not do is simply ignore the case. If you find yourself as the defendant in a commercial litigation action in Florida when you have no contacts with Florida, you need to contact a knowledgeable Florida attorney. Your skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorney can go to court for you for the express limited purpose of getting that lawsuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. That way, you will not be in peril of a potentially damaging judgment that could result if you made the mistake of just ignoring the lawsuit.

A recent case from the Tampa Bay area is good example of a proper response. The case involved two companies engaged in a tortious interference action. The plaintiff’s case asserted that the defendant induced an engineer to leave his job with the plaintiff to take a managerial position within the defendant’s Virginia office.

The plaintiff was a Florida corporation headquartered in St. Petersburg and the plaintiff sued in state court in Pinellas County. The defendant, however, was a California corporation based in San Diego, and did not want to face a trial in Florida. The California company retained local counsel and asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. This was a wise move.

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The seeds of success – or failure – in your Florida commercial litigation action are often sown long before either side calls a single witness or makes a single argument or statement at trial. Getting the evidence you need to obtain a favorable judgment often relies on doing the right discovery during the pre-trial process. That means not only identifying what you need, but also knowing how to go about getting it and the defeating of the other side’s arguments that you’re not entitled to that information. This requires an in-depth knowledge of your case, the law and the rules of procedure. To make sure you have that on your side, you need an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney.

A recent case from the Tampa Bay area is a good example of these processes in action. The underlying lawsuit revolved around data that was generated by a footwear sanitation device. A Largo-based doctor approached the St. Petersburg-based entity that collected the data about purchasing the rights to it. The sides signed a letter of intent and proceeded. Three years later, the relationship broke down and litigation ensued.

The doctor, at one point during the pre-trial discovery process, sought to take 18 new depositions and to complete three additional ones that had been continued. The doctor’s side stated that the numerous depositions were needed to establish essential elements of the case, including that an enforceable agreement had been established between the sides. They also argued that they needed the depositions to secure evidence about what the parties’ course of dealings was.

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Divorces can often be contentious matters. It may be especially fractious if one of the spouses was allegedly having an affair. If you are facing a high-dollar divorce, it is important to understand how your spouse’s allegations of your infidelity can – and cannot – impact what the judge orders in terms of equitable distribution. To make sure that you don’t get shortchanged and that the distribution you get complies with current Florida law, be sure you have a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney advocating for you.

H.D. and G.D. were a couple whose divorce case involved allegations of unfaithfulness. The couple married in Cuba in 1967. 48 years later, the husband file for divorce in Miami. The wife asked the judge to award an unequal distribution because of the husband’s adultery. Specifically, the husband allegedly spent marital funds on the mistress and did not collect rent from the mistress (who lived in an East Hialeah rental property that the husband and wife owned.)

The trial judge ruled that the wife was entitled to something called “special equity” and awarded her an unequal distribution. (The wife received $605,000 in assets; the husband $258,000.) The husband appealed that ruling and won his appeal. The trial court’s decision had to be reversed because Florida doesn’t recognize the legal concept of special equity, and hasn’t since 2008.

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If you find yourself embroiled in a commercial contract dispute, it helps to understand how the courts will go about interpreting your agreement. The law has created certain rules that set the standard for how judges should interpret contracts. For example, if an agreement provision mentions some, but not all members of particular class or group of items, then the law says that courts should interpret that language as carrying with it the definitive implication that those class or group items not included were intentionally excluded. For more about this and other rules of contract interpretation and how they may benefit you in your breach of contract or wrongful termination lawsuit, be sure you have retained an experienced Florida business litigation attorney to represent your interests.

A recent case from Miami-Dade County was a real-life illustration of this principle. The origin of the case was a multi-million-dollar contract where the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority (MDX) retained a Dallas-area consultant to provide a toll-by-plate system for the county’s toll roads. The authority made many assertions regarding the failing project, including accusing the contractor of intentionally underbidding the project and lying about its ability to do the job.

The contractor, however, believed that MDX was the party engaging in misconduct and sued. The contractor alleged that the authority breached the contract. The authority subsequently terminated the contract, leading the contractor to add a claim for wrongful termination onto its already pending lawsuit.

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If you file for divorce in the wrong place, that error will likely result in a dismissal, costing you valuable time and resources. This risk is a particularly prominent one if yours is a high-dollar divorce. High-asset couples are more likely to have multiple homes, which may give spouses the idea they have more options for where to file than they actually have. Each state has a series of requirements that must be met before the state will allow a person to obtain a judgment of divorce there. Before you proceed with filing your divorce petition with a court in Florida, be sure you have the legal counsel you need from a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney to get your divorce as efficiently and effectively as possible.

R.L. and L.L. were a couple whose divorce case became caught up in this residency requirement. The wife filed for divorce and the trial court awarded her exclusive use of a Pinellas County home as well as nearly $16,000 per month in alimony. The husband, though, appealed and the appeals court ruled in his favor.

The reason this wife’s divorce case unraveled was because of Florida’s rules for subject matter jurisdiction for divorces. “Subject matter jurisdiction” means the legal authority of a court to hear, and issue orders in, particular types of cases. Even if both spouses desire for a Florida court to resolve their divorce case, Florida courts cannot do so if subject matter jurisdiction isn’t there.

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A Broward County business that was a party to a commercial lease agreement found out the hard way recently one of the many ways that such an agreement can go wrong and leave you with no recourse in the courts. That problem, in the Broward business’s situation, was an imperfectly drafted lease agreement. Don’t let that pitfall ensnare you. Be sure that the commercial lease agreement you sign will protect your business interests fully and be recognized as enforceable by the courts. To be sure you are executing the right commercial lease agreement, start by retaining the services of a skilled South Florida commercial lease attorney.

Z.C. was the owner of that Broward County business, which rented wave runners, parasails and scuba diving equipment. In 2007, the rental business inked a lease with a hotel’s owner that allowed the business to operate on a beach adjacent to the hotel. The lease agreement stated that the term of the lease was from September 18, 2007 until “the demolition of the property.” The parties worded the contract that way because the owner allegedly desired to allow the equipment rental business to stay as long as he operated a hotel there. (The owner allegedly was considering demolishing the hotel and converting the property into condominiums and, if that happened, then the equipment rental business would be expected to leave.)

Three years after the parties signed the lease, the owner sold the property rather than converting it into condos. Several months after the transaction, the new owner and operator of the hotel terminated the lease. The rental business sued the new hotel owner for breaching the lease, but the hotel owner emerged successful from the lawsuit.

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As of 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, the City of Miami was under a “shelter in place” order due the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, pandemic. The announcement stated that the order would remain in effect “until further notice.” These unprecedented conditions may have many businesses asking themselves… what will happen if I don’t perform as required under my lease (such as failing to pay rent)? If my landlord sues my business for breach of the lease, is there any way I can mount a successful defense? The answers to those questions are: it depends and… it depends. Each situation is unique depending on exactly how the terms of your lease agreement were worded. To get the customized advice you need for your specific situation, be sure to get in touch with an experienced South Florida commercial lease attorney.

Clients may consider substantial parts of their leases to be just “form language,” but skillful commercial attorneys know that many things the client writes off as perfunctory actually aren’t, and actually require close attention — needing to be carefully negotiated and skillfully drafted.

Take, for example, the clause in your commercial lease agreement that excuses your performance. Commercial tenants in Florida are probably a bit more aware of these clauses than many businesses elsewhere. That’s because one of these valid excuses often is “acts of God,” which refers to natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms.

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More than four decades ago, country singer Kenny Rogers achieved massive success with a song called “The Gambler.” The song gives the listener several tidbits about playing cards (and presumably about life,) including the value of not overplaying one’s hand. The benefit of refraining from overplaying one’s position is something that can be realized in a variety of settings, including in creating your commercial contract. Even when it seems like you have the “upper hand,” going too far has the potential to cause catastrophic results. To make sure you get a commercial contract that balances your positional strengths with proper restraint to avoid court intervention or other problems, be sure you have the skills of an experienced Florida business attorney on your side.

As an example, there’s this federal case recently before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The parties were a Brazilian travel agency that specialized in cruises and cruise packages and a Florida company the travel agency hired to design a website. That “one-of-a-kind” website would allow users to book in Portuguese and pay in Brazilian currency.

What made these parties’ contract noteworthy was the exculpatory clause that the Boca Raton-based entity negotiated. The clause that was included in the final agreement stated that “for any direct, special, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive, exemplary or any other damages regardless of kind or type (whether in contract, tort (including negligence), or otherwise), including but not limited to loss of profits, data, or goodwill.” The clause also said that the company would not be liable even if it “knew or should have known of the possibility of such damages.”

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There may be numerous ingredients that go into a workable and successful Chapter 11 reorganization plan. In some plans, one of those ingredients is non-consensual third-party releases. For some debtor businesses, the potential long-term viability of the business itself may hinge upon obtaining those releases and forever closing the door on certain creditor claims. Given how important these releases can be to the long-term success of your business, they serve as one more example of just how vital it is to have the right Florida Chapter 11 bankruptcy lawyer on your side to help you develop a plan with all the right ingredients, and then see that plan through all the way to a successful end.

Non-consensual third-party releases appear in Chapter 11 cases when the reorganization plan, in order to be viable, requires the court to sign off on the release of certain non-debtor third parties from claims by the debtor’s creditors. Recently, it was the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that was asked to address this topic.

In that case, the debtor was a Delaware-incorporated specialty laboratory that, in 2014, entered into a $1.825 billion credit agreement with multiple lenders. In 2015, the lab filed for bankruptcy. The debtor’s restructuring plan involved “broad releases, including ones that would bind non-consenting lenders.” One of those non-consenting lenders was one of the major lenders in that 2014 credit agreement. The bankruptcy court approved the plan, despite the lender’s objection.

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Once you find yourself in a business dispute, there are many decisions you’ll have to make, which is why it is beneficial to have a skilled Florida business litigation attorney on your side. Sometimes, as a recent case that originated in South Florida demonstrates, that decision is determining where you will litigate your case. It is extremely important to choose wisely, as picking federal court when there is no federal court jurisdiction can lead to dismissal.

In that case that was recently ruled upon by a federal appeals court, a West Palm Beach LLC was in the business of selling children’s car seats. The LLC held the patents to those seats as an assignee. The LLC inked a patent licensing agreement with a California entity for the latter to market the seats in exchange of for royalty payments. Eventually, a dispute arose over an unpaid royalty the Palm Beach County LLC alleged it was owed, and the dispute proceeded to federal court in South Florida.

During the appeal process, the 11th Circuit pointed out a problem. The case had relied upon something called “diversity jurisdiction,” which is when an action involves “an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000 and a claim between citizens of different states.” The case clearly involved an amount greater than $75,000, and it involved a Florida LLC versus a California LLC, so what, you may ask, was the problem?

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