Articles Posted in Legal News

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Roulette WheelSometimes, 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).

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PilgrimA woman who had sued her former employer that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy got some good news when a recent 1st District Court of Appeal decision revived her employment discrimination case. Even though the employee’s claims fell within the law’s definition of administrative expense claims, and the employee did not file her court action before the administrative expense claims deadline, her case still survived because the employer’s bankruptcy filings carved out an exception for claims occurring within the “ordinary course of business,” which included the employee’s discrimination case.

The origins of the dispute between Lender Ann Hamilton, a worker at Pilgrim’s Pride’s facility in north Florida, and her employer, began when she suffered a workplace injury in 2003. According to the employee, the injury resulted in her enduring harassment once she returned to work relating to her light duty work restrictions. Hamilton also claimed that she suffered retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, as well as race discrimination. Hamilton’s employment ended in mid-July 2009.

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moneyMany people enter a marriage with certain assets, perhaps a house, a car, a boat, or even a business. Generally speaking, if you bring an asset into your marriage, it remains your separate property. This is not the case, however, if you engage in what’s called “commingling” of assets, which means you have mixed your separate property with marital property or have spent marital assets for the benefit of your separate property. That’s exactly what happened to one South Florida wife, and the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that it cost her the ability to claim a house as separate property.

Before she married Michael Sorgen, Denise Sorgen and her two sisters inherited a home. The sisters used the home as a rental property and placed the proceeds of the rental business into a separate bank account. After the Sorgens married, the wife bought out her two sisters’ interests in the property. The couple renovated the home using money from marital accounts. Additionally, the wife continued using the home as a rental property but began depositing the proceeds from rent payments into an account she co-owned with her husband. The couple paid taxes on the property using jointly owned funds, and, when they sold the house, they placed the proceeds of that transaction into a joint account. When the husband filed for divorce, the wife moved the sale proceeds into an account she owned by herself.

The husband sought to include the home sale proceeds in the equitable distribution of the couple’s assets. The trial court refused, but the appeals court concluded that the property was a marital asset.

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In 2012, President Obama signed the treaty allowing Israelis to obtain investor’s visas in the U.S.  However, the treaty was not formally agreed upon and signed by the Israeli government until now.  On March 30, 2014, the Israeli government in its weekly meeting approved the reciprocal investor’s visa treaty for American Investors.

E-2 Investor Visas allow people, from a select group of countries, to enter the United States and work on a “substantial” investment within the country. While the visas need to be renewed every five years, they can last for a potentially unlimited period of time. However, they are not meant to serve as a path to immigration, and showing intent to immigrate could hurt the chance for an extension. The visas are useful for entrepreneurs who have a great deal of money, no other visa options available, and no intent to become a citizen of the United States

According to a government official responsible for pushing this issue forward, “Following government approval, we’ll need to amend prevailing regulations and draft procedures, but I hope that these steps will be completed as soon as possible.”  This means that once the procedural terms are defined by Israel for Americans investing there, the treaty will take full force and effect and Israelis will be entitled to obtain investor’s visas in the U.S.

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Florida lawmakers are looking to rewrite the state’s gambling regulations in 2014. They want to change the industry in a way that hasn’t been done since the 1996 statewide lottery vote.

The issue of gambling in Florida came to a boiling point when, three years ago, Genting proposed building a massive casino at the former site of the Miami Herald and Omni commercial complex. The Malaysian company promised the new complex, which they called Resorts World Miami, would create 100,000 jobs. However, lawmakers resisted changing Florida gambling laws that would allow the project to move forward.

Two republican Florida state representatives, House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel and Senate President Don Gaetz of Niceville, are pushing a constitutional amendment for the upcoming general election ballot requiring future gambling expansions to go before voters statewide. To enact the constitutional amendment, which would in effect change the course of history for Florida gambling laws, a 60 percent “yes” vote is required.

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It might not be surprising that an ethical issue is being discussed and deliberated in the Florida law community. However, it might seem unusual to some that the issue surrounds LinkedIn, the popular social network for professionals, including in this case, lawyers and their firms. Even those who have never visited the website are undoubtedly familiar with the barrage of e-mails inviting them to do so.

This is serious business. It all starts with a new set of rules that was adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in May of 2013, which governed the use of internet marketing by Florida lawyers. The rules were intended to discourage deceptive, manipulative, misleading information, limiting online marketing content to “objectively verifiable” results, characterizations, and testimonials. While Florida lawyers have always worked with relatively strict advertising limitations, this was the first time the restrictions were extended to their websites.

In an attempt to comply with the new rules, law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA asked the bar to advise them on which statements from their online presence met the “objectively verifiable” requirement. They were not satisfied with the response they received.