Published on:

In any lawsuit, there may be certain types of procedural maneuvers that may alter how your case proceeds. One of the keys to success, then, is making the proper maneuvers in response to the actions taken by the other side in your case. Your opponent may try to convince the judge in your commercial litigation case that it is, for example, entitled to a dismissal when it actually isn’t. To be sure your case doesn’t get wrongfully derailed before you even get to trial, be sure you have the skilled and experience of a knowledgeable South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side.

For example, take this recent case from Broward County. In the lawsuit, a New Jersey-based entity and a Maryland-based entity were involved in a legal action that included several commercial claims, including “fraud, breached fiduciary duties, converted funds, and intentionally interfered with an advantageous business relationship.”

In this suit, the plaintiffs asked the trial judge to sever the claims against the Maryland entity and one individual defendant from those against all other defendants. The judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor.

Published on:

As a business person, you’re certainly familiar with some legal concepts. You may, for example, very likely have a strong awareness of what a statute of limitations is and how it works. On the other hand, a legal phrase like “statute of frauds” may be something with which you’re less familiar. Even if you’re not familiar with that phrase, be aware that it can be very important to your business, especially your business’s commercial litigation cases. Rest assured that your knowledgeable South Florida business attorney is keenly familiar with that phrase and how it can help you in court.

Despite what you might think based on the wording, the “statute of frauds” is not something that only applies in cases involving fraud claims (although it may involve such a claim). A recent case between a South Florida real estate corporation and a Central Florida real estate broker was an example of how the statute of frauds can be the key to a success. The two sides reportedly inked a deal in 2004 for the broker to operate one of the corporation’s franchises, which was located in Maitland, Florida. 10 years later, they executed second franchise agreement, this time in regard to a franchise in Orlando.

The franchisor approached the franchisee about renewing the Maitland franchise agreement for an additional term. Allegedly, the franchisee expressed interest in doing so while secretly negotiating with a competing real estate firm. The franchisee allegedly dragged out the negotiation process until he had time to complete negotiations and sign an agreement with the competing firm, which he did in December 2014.

Published on:

If yours is an entity based outside Florida that does not do business in Florida, you may think you would have no need for legal services in Florida. That’s not necessarily true. It is still entirely possible to be hauled into court in Florida in a commercial litigation action, even if you have no contacts with the Sunshine State. In order to avoid having to defend yourself here, you’ll need to win a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Doing that often requires a clear and complete understanding of Florida jurisdiction law. In other words, you need an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney.

As an example of how this can happen, take the recent case of one Oregon entity. The lawsuit arose after a Coral Springs-based auto transport company signed an agreement with a Portland, Oregon-based auto entity for the delivery of certain vehicles. According to the transport company, the contract called for the transport of 39 vehicles. Allegedly, the vehicles business paid for exactly three. The Oregon business agreed that it paid for only three but argued that it contracted for only three. The other 36 were the result of an agreement made by a sales associate who lacked the authority to enter contracts, according to the vehicle business. Also, the Oregon company alleged that it received only three vehicles, and the other 36 were never delivered.

The key to this dispute, at this point in the litigation, wasn’t whether the associate had legal authority to sign a contract or what became of the other 36 vehicles, it was where the case could be tried. The transport company sought to litigate the breach of contract case in Broward County. The Oregon business sought a dismissal of the action filed in Broward, arguing that the Florida courts lacked personal jurisdiction over it. The appeals court ultimately agreed with the Oregon company.

Published on:

If your business operates from a leased space, one of the most important business acts in which you’ll engage is the negotiation of your commercial lease. During this process, and before you sign on the line, it is important to sure that you understand all of the terms of your lease, including what each provision can do and what it can’t do (both for you and against you.) Once your experienced South Florida commercial real estate attorney has armed you with all of that knowledge, then you can make the best decision about whether or not to execute that document.

A North Miami Beach restaurant’s case is an example of this point. The restaurant signed a lease agreement in 2011 to rent a space in a shopping mall. The lease term was 10 years and stated an amount of “minimum rent,” which was $19,481 per month. The lease agreement also contained an “additional rent” provision that made the tenant responsible for paying, among other things, a certain amount of operating expenses.

The contract also stated that the tenant’s operating expenses portion of additional rent would increase by the fixed amount of 3% per year, “notwithstanding the actual amount of Operating Expenses otherwise allocable to the” space the tenant leased.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Recently, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that significantly curtailed immigration through the end of 2020. One group not impaired by the new executive order, however, is EB-5 investors. EB-5 investors are exempted under the new rule, meaning they can still obtain their visas. EB-5 investors still face many challenges when applying for the investor visa before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. One thing that you should not allow is to delay your visa process by making preventable mistakes like paperwork flaws or proof shortcomings. Protect yourself from those mistakes by ensuring you have the services of an experienced South Florida immigration attorney.

A Bloomberg piece reported that, while the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has caused serious disruptions in the EB-5 program, there is still some good news for certain EB-5 investors. In March, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it was changing the way that EB-5 visa applications would be processed. Under the new protocol, visa applications would be processed on an “availability” basis, meaning that, if there is a visa available for you (or if there soon will be,) then your petition is given top priority by the agency. See the Department of State Visa Bulletin for visa availability.

Visit Visa Bulletin July 2020!

If that’s you, and you can obtain approval relatively quickly, the last thing you want is delays in your investor visa petition process. For example, even if USCIS has deemed your case a “top” priority, it can still be sidelined if the agency finds what it perceives to be errors in your paperwork. If your petition lacks the proper and relevant documentation required to established eligibility, it will delay your visa adjudication process. When that happens, the agency may issue a request for evidence delaying it, or worse, the agency could elect to deny your case outright.

Continue reading →

Published on:

We’ve mostly all heard the phrase “separation of church and state.” For many folks, though, the process of getting married inherently involves aspects of both secular and religious law. If you and your spouse-to-be seek to make binding promises as part of your religious obligations, it is important to proceed with the aid of a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney. That’s because, if there is eventually a question later about something you or your spouse promised, it will be a Florida civil court and not a religious tribunal that decides the outcome, so you need to be sure that whatever you agreed to can be enforced by the secular courts in Florida.

This issue has popped up in multiple places recently, and two very recent decisions highlight how the courts might handle your religion-influenced case. In Maryland, an Islamic couple had undergone a civil marriage and an Islamic one. In the Islamic process, the husband made a mahr which, according to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, is a gift that the groom “has to give the bride when the contract of marriage is made and which becomes the property of the wife.”

The wife eventually filed in state court in Maryland to compel the husband to fulfill his mahr promise. The court ruled for the wife because it was able to resolve that dispute using solely secular Maryland contract law. The wife won because she had proof of the terms of the agreement, and the husband lacked evidence that the mahr agreement was either unconscionable under Maryland law or the product of “fraud, duress, coercion, mistake, undue influence,” one party’s incompetence or bad faith.

Continue reading →

Published on:

The coronavirus-triggered shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements of 2020 have created, or at least hastened, changes in all walks of life, including in the world of business. Negotiations that might once have occurred face-to-face now might take place over a Zoom conference. Some businesses are, when it comes to their commercial contracts that once would have been executed with ink on paper, reconsidering whether those agreements can be signed electronically. With these new changes come new legal challenges, including ensuring that the methods you’ve used comply with Florida law in order that your end result will be an enforceable contract. Always be sure to rely on the advice of an experienced South Florida commercial contract attorney when it comes to executing such a contract, in order to ensure the contract with which you end up is one that’s drafted properly, executed properly and enforceable in the courts.

Electronic signatures are something that were gaining in popularity and frequency of use even before the pandemic struck. Before anyone had ever heard the phrase “COVID-19,” Florida had adopted its version of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. Fla. Stat. Section 668.50(7)(a) says that a signature “may not be denied legal effect or enforceability” strictly because it is an electronic one, and Subsection (b) says that just “because an electronic record was used in the formation of the contract,” that alone is not a sufficient basis to make the contract unenforceable.

In Florida, a valid electronic signature can be “an electronic sound,” a symbol, or a process “logically associated with a record” and inserted “with the intent to sign the record.” Electronic signature technology can allow signors to create an electronic version of their signature using their finger or a stencil on a touchscreen, or to sign with a prefabricated signature font created by the electronic platform. Either version potentially can be a valid electronic signature.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Third-party beneficiary breach cases may occur from time to time in the course of your business, whether you are one of the actual parties to the underlying commercial contract, or your business is the third-party beneficiary.

A recent case from Miami is a very useful reminder that the law in Florida establishes some specific requirements in order for an alleged third-party to proceed with a breach of contract claim. If you are in the position of the third party, it is exceptionally important to be sure you have the right allegations in your court papers to cover all of the mandatory elements. If you are a defendant, your business may be able to use a shortcoming in one or more of these essential areas to get the case dismissed. Either way, it pays to have a South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side who is experienced in these kinds of cases.

That recent Miami case involved a high-end vacation rental business that alleged that it was a third-party beneficiary to a contract, that a breach of that contract had occurred and that the breach has caused it to suffer damages.
Continue reading →

Published on:

Many business people have a reasonable idea of what the word “jurisdiction” means generally. If you look it up on Google, that site says it’s “the official power to make legal decisions and judgments.” That’s a pretty fair overview-type description. The details of jurisdiction, and its impact on your business and business litigation actions, go much deeper, however. For in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, you need the skill of an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney, who can use the law to help you keep your case where you want it and avoid having to litigate in someplace where you don’t.

Recently, jurisdiction was the key to the resolution of a commercial litigation appeal between an international agricultural company and a Venezuelan cargo airline. The airline sought to litigate a multi-million dollar commercial contract dispute in state court in Miami.

The agricultural company was based in Dubai, its parent company was headquartered in India and even its U.S. subsidiary (which wasn’t part of this case) was based in Texas. Clearly, litigating a breach of contract action in Florida might be disadvantageous for the agricultural company. It might mean retaining additional attorneys, in addition to other expenses related to extensive travel and lost productivity elsewhere. So, what can you do if another company has tried to pull you into litigation in a far-flung place?

Published on:

We can learn a lot sometimes from legal cases involving celebrities. Musician Ric Ocasek, who achieved his greatest notoriety in the 1980s with his band The Cars and who died in 2019, is one such example. His case offers a clear example of how you, as a Floridian, can benefit from completing your divorce promptly or, perhaps even more beneficially, from executing a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement with your spouse. If you have a large amount of wealth, the difference between doing these things and not doing these things can be millions of dollars. To make sure that your wealth will continue to go where you want it to, even as you contemplate an upcoming marriage or an upcoming divorce, be sure to rely upon an experienced Florida divorce attorney.

In 2018, Ocasek’s wife, model Paulina Porizkova, announced that she and Ocasek had separated in 2017. In September 2019, Ocasek died of natural causes. At the time, he and Porizkova remained married. Later last year, news reports indicated that Ocasek had excluded Porizkova from his will. The will stated that the pair were “in the process of divorcing” and that Porizkova was not entitled to anything from his estate “because she has abandoned me,” according to People.com. Ocasek’s estate included $5 million just in copyrights.

Ocasek died in New York City and his probate estate will not be administered in Florida. However, for many people, especially people with high dollar estates, it is very important to look at a case like Ocasek’s and understand the impact of a divorce on your probate estate. The Florida Statutes have something called a “spousal share” for surviving spouses. That law says that, if your spouse survives you, she can “elect” to receive 30% of your estate, regardless of what your estate planning documents say. (That’s true even if your documents expressly say she should receive nothing.)

Continue reading →

Contact Information