Articles Posted in Commercial and Business

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Any time you, as a commercial landlord in Florida, lease a property, you hope for a successful business relationship. Regrettably, that doesn’t always happen. When it doesn’t, it may become necessary to protect your property and your overall business interests by evicting that tenant. The law goes to great lengths to protect residential tenants facing evictions, and it also imposes some fairly substantial procedural obligations on commercial landlords. Trying to evict a commercial tenant on your own can actually do serious harm to your position. Instead of making this commercial eviction an ill-fated “DIY” project, retain the legal representation you need from a skilled South Florida commercial leasing attorney.

When you’ve decided it’s time to evict your commercial tenant, there are several sets of hurdles you must clear. Before you file a court action to evict, you must first have complied with all the notice requirements of Part I of Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, as well as all the notice obligations that were written into your lease agreement.

In a rent dispute, you must give your tenant a notice demanding that the tenant either pay the sum owed or vacate the property within three days of the date of that notice document. If the problem is something other than unpaid rent, the law says that you must give the tenant at least 15 days to fix the breach or else vacate.

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A lot of times, people will hear advice instructing them to “get it in writing” when it comes any sort of business promise they’ve received. That’s because there are far fewer situations where a written contract is unenforceable as compared to an oral agreement. While oral contracts are generally enforceable, there are circumstances where the law requires a written document in order for that agreement to be enforceable. This law is called the “Statute of Frauds” and it may be the key thing your skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorney can use to get the breach of contract case against your business thrown out.

The Florida Statute of Frauds lays out several circumstances in which, to have a valid and binding agreement, the parties are required to put their terms in writing. These scenarios include: real estate transaction contracts, agreements to pay a debt owed by another, lease agreements where the lease term extends for more than one year, contracts for the sale of goods valued at $500 or more and agreements that cannot be performed within a one-year time period.

That last circumstance — contracts that cannot be performed within one year — is one where that time restriction is a strict one, as a recent federal breach of contract case illustrates.

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When you need to sue because your business was harmed as a result of a breached contract, there are many litigation strategies that may be available to you. One of those is presenting the court with alternate theories of liability. Using strategies like this effectively can be essential to ensuring that your business receives every opportunity to achieve a positive outcome. When it comes to deploying this and other litigation strategies in your breach of contract case, it is essential to make sure you’re using it properly within the confines defined by Florida law. Whether you have one theory or liability or several, make sure you have the right South Florida commercial litigation attorney handling your matter for you.

When you decide to present multiple theories of liability, it is important to ensure you are not seeking inconsistent remedies, as that may trigger an invocation of the legal doctrine of ‘election of remedies’ and cause your case irreparable harm.

As an example, there is a commercial lease case from South Florida. In late 2011, a tenant subleased a space to a restaurant. The agreement gave the subtenant the option to terminate the lease early, provided the subtenant supplied nine months prior written notice. If the subtenant opted to exit early, the agreement obligated it to pay an early termination penalty fee.

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Here in Florida, there are a variety of types of agreements that can be valid, enforceable contracts. Your oral agreement may constitute a binding contract. You may have a handwritten document that potentially could be an enforceable agreement. Of course, in other circumstances, that “handshake” agreement or handwritten “contract” you signed may not be enforceable at all, especially if it lacks essential terms. If you intended to create a binding agreement, the last thing you want is for it to fail for lack of some required provision, which is just one more reason (among the many others) why it pays to have legal representation from an experienced South Florida commercial contracts attorney when you’re setting up your contract.

Just because an agreement is handwritten, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid contract. On the other hand, as a group of business entities found out from a Florida appeals court recently, just because all sides signed onto a handwritten agreement, that doesn’t necessarily make it an enforceable contract, either.

That handwritten document could be many things. It could be a binding contract. Alternately, it could be simply an “agreement to agree,” or it could be not even that. The key often lies in the contents of that handwritten document.

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Making sure the commercial contract you get is the one you need involves careful attention to detail where an experienced South Florida commercial attorney can provide invaluable input. One of those things is helping you to understand what is – and what isn’t – required by your agreement, and making sure your final agreement is something that matches what you agreed to in your pre-execution negotiations.

That may all seem very easy, but, in reality, it’s often not. As an example, take a look at this case, litigated in Miami-Dade County, that involved two LLC principals. The two businessmen, J.G. and R.A., had been in business together but decided to go their separate ways professionally in March 2016. One of the key entities impacted by that decision was another LLC, “MM,” that the two principals’ respective LLCs owned equally.

To establish a written plan for this break-up, the principals created and executed a Reorganization Agreement. That contract bound the parties to pursue restructuring or liquidation of MM and to pay off an investor who MM owed $80,000. R.A. paid the full $80,000 to the investor with no input from J.G.

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When you’ve been wronged – and suffered harm – in a commercial activity, there is a great deal of decision-making in which you must engage as a result. One thing you should know, once you’ve decided to seek compensation in court, is what is – and what isn’t – a proper venue. To do that, rely on a knowledgeable South Florida commercial litigation attorney for the advice you need.

If you’ve suffered a breach of contract in Florida, any trial court in the state has jurisdiction, but not all of them are proper venues for your lawsuit. Determining which counties are proper venues is very important, especially in a state like Florida with its peculiar geography. If your business is based in Miami-Dade County, there is a massive difference in terms of the overall costs of litigating a case in the Seventeenth Circuit as opposed to the First Circuit. The Seventeenth Circuit is in Fort Lauderdale, only 30 miles away. The First Circuit, located in Pensacola, is more than 670 miles away. The latter, of course, will cost you much more in terms of both time and money.

A recent case offers insight into how this process of venue determination works under Florida law. The case involved a property restoration company, a Bay County-based subcontractor and their breach of contract dispute. The subcontractor sued in Bay County after the restoration company allegedly failed to pay sums that were due.

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The ability to keep certain proprietary information secret is essential to the well-being of many businesses. Much of those assets’ inherent economic value may derive from the fact that they are not readily known or available to the broader business community. When your business’s secret information gets stolen, co-opted or otherwise misappropriated, the economic loss for your business can be massive. Be sure to fight back promptly and aggressively. Start by retaining the services of an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney.

When someone misappropriates your trade secrets and you have to sue, there are several evidentiary hurdles you have to clear in Florida. A recent case from right here in South Florida offers a good illustration of that.

The plaintiff was a Coral Springs-based company that provided “cruise ship entertainment production solutions,” according to its website. Along the way, the entertainment company had created a “proprietary training system and a digital tracking system used in aerial acrobatics entertainment aboard cruise ships.”

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If you are someone to whom a business owes money and that business files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, you may begin to hold grave concerns about whether or not you’ll get paid in full… or maybe whether you’ll get paid at all. Creditors do not lose all their rights to collect just because a debtor files for bankruptcy, though. If you find yourself in that position, be sure you act without delay to retain the services of a skilled South Florida commercial bankruptcy attorney to preserve your right to collect, or at least minimize your losses.

Recently, a Tampa builder was in exactly that sort of position. The builder had inked a deal with a local veterinarian’s LLC to do approximately a half-million dollars of interior finish work on the veterinarian’s new clinic in Tampa. However, in the middle of the project, the LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The builder wisely took the step of retaining counsel and filing a claim in the bankruptcy case. In most bankruptcy cases, a creditor has only a limited period of time in which to file a proof of claim. In a Chapter 11 case, the bankruptcy judge will enter an order that sets the deadline date for that case. Soon after the court enters that order, the debtor is required to send notice to all known creditors telling them when that deadline date is.

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There are many reasons why the pursuit of your commercial litigation might proceed slowly at times. Perhaps you need to amass more evidence to make your case. Maybe there were other reasons that slowed the process. It is important to be careful in permitting too much time to elapse, though, as a prolonged delay may result in a fatal outcome for your case known as a dismissal for “failure to prosecute.” To make certain that your case is proceeding as it should, it helps to have a diligent and reliable South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side from the start.

While the risk of a dismissal for failure to prosecute is very real, it’s worth noting that Florida erects some very substantial limits on when your case can be thrown out due to inactivity… and when it can’t.

As an example, we can look at this recent case from Miami-Dade County. The plaintiff was a lighting company that retrofits buildings with LED lighting systems. In 2012, the company sued a condo association for breach of contract. Seven years and two months after the filing of that complaint, the trial court sent the company a “Notice of Lack of Prosecution.”

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When you hear the phrase “intellectual property litigation,” the first thing that probably leaps to mind is taking action to protect your intellectual property rights. Of course, there’s actually another side to that coin, which is taking action to defend against a claim of intellectual property infringement. When someone has wrongfully accused your business of encroaching on their intellectual property rights, you need the help of a skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorney experienced in intellectual property cases to get you the outcome your business deserves.

One way this kind of lawsuit can happen is if the business suing you had a valid copyright and/or trademark, but your conduct didn’t actually encroach on their intellectual property. In a recent case from federal court, the plaintiff was a dealer of used cars with locations in Central and South Florida. The dealership owned the copyright and trademarks on a stylized version of the phrase “DON’T PAY MORE” in white all caps, enclosed in alternating red and black boxes.

The defendant was a Lakeland auto dealer who had billboards on Interstate 4. The Lakeland dealership’s billboards said, “NEED A USED CAR?” on the top, “Don’t Pay More” on the bottom and the dealership’s name in the middle. The Lakeland dealership’s billboards used a different font, and contained no black or white, instead using only blue and a different shade of red.

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