A recent decision from the Fifth District Court of Appeal addressed a very relevant question for any entity considering entering into a contract that contains a provision for the compulsion of arbitration: which legal actions do or do not trigger a waiver of that right to compel arbitration. In this case, a property seller’s lawsuit over certain deed restrictions did not constitute a waiver because that was a separate agreement and was outside the contract that contained the arbitration clause.
The collapse of the housing bubble back in the ‘00s caused a lot of substantial financial losses for many people, including investors. Even the suffering of major losses does not allow a party to a contract to get out of its obligations under that agreement, though. That was the takeaway of an $8 million plaintiff’s judgment awarded to our client in his breach of contract lawsuit against his investment partners in a condominium project. The other investors must still pay the millions of dollars they owed, even though the condo project failed and they sustained roughly $1 million in losses, the Daily Business Review reported.
When you’re going through a commercial dispute, there are many things about which you have to concern yourself. You have to balance the pursuit of victory in litigation with the continued operation of your business. One aspect of litigation that plays into both of these components is which of your officers or employees must testify in depositions related to your case. A case recently decided by the Second District Court of Appeal provides some important information in this area.
Miami and South Florida are commercially vibrant areas. In addition to having many businesses whose activities are strictly contained in the United States, the Miami area has many businesses whose contacts and interactions spread outside the United States, due in part to its unique diversity, geography and culture. This can sometimes lead to special challenges when contract disputes and commercial litigation issues arise with partners based outside the United States. In one recent tortious interference case involving a Miami LLC and a Brazilian entity, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that the rules of jurisdiction did not prevent the litigation from going forward in Florida.
Sometimes, achieving success can mean going to trial and winning; other times, it can mean a settlement. A commercial tenant and a client of Stok Folk + Kon recently succeeded in reaching a settlement of its lease dispute with its landlord, a major South Florida casino. The landlord, which had attempted to force out the small tenant despite a lease term that ran through 2020, agreed to settle just a week after the two sides engaged in mediation. As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, the terms of the settlement were not made public (due to a confidentiality provision in the settlement agreement).
In contract law and in commercial litigation, the gap between success and failure can be as small as a single word. In the case of an electric utility and its breach of contract case, the outcome of its case hinged on three little words: “at a minimum.” The insertion of those words into its complaint meant that the damages it sought were not liquidated and it could not obtain a damages award in its default judgment case without first having a hearing on damages, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled.
When you and a potential business partner contemplate entering into a commercial contract, there are many things to which you can agree and make binding on both sides by including relevant terms in your agreement. One of these issues is deciding, in advance, where you will litigate disputes if a problem arises later. There are many different ways to structure these clauses, with some being permissive and some being mandatory. In a recent case from Miami, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld a dismissal of a case brought here because the parties had a contract with a mandatory clause dictating California as the place to litigate disputes.
A nutritional supplement company, whose business took a major hit in late 2014 and early 2015, was allowed, in its lawsuit against one of its vendors, to continue using its expert witness on damages and continue asserting its claim for lost profits, which allegedly amounted to more than $15 million. Although the plaintiff’s business was badly damaged, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that the plaintiff’s business was merely interrupted but not totally destroyed. Had it been completely destroyed, the law would not have allowed the plaintiff to seek lost profits damages.
When you decide to pursue litigation as the means to resolve a commercial contract dispute, there are many things that can detour or, worse, derail your case. Some of these have nothing to do with the strengths or weaknesses of the factual part of your case. In two cases in which plaintiffs had suffered dismissals due to missteps, both entities were likely to face some form of penalty, although one likely much more severe than the other. A plaintiff from South Florida saw its case dismissed due to its erroneous actions, while a Tampa Bay plaintiff got its dismissal reversed because the statute called for a stay of the plaintiff’s case, rather than a dismissal.
In any commercial contract setting, things can go awry. When they do, and litigation becomes necessary, your case may present you with the opportunity to not only secure a judgment in your favor but also recoup some of your attorneys’ fees as well. In a recent case involving five South Florida malls, the appellate court upheld an award of attorneys’ fees in a commercial leasing breach of contract claim. The award was in the appropriate amount because each of the landlords’ claims shared a “common core” of facts and “related legal theories.”