Yearly Archives: 2010

Domesticating Florida Judgments in Georgia, Part I

By: Emily C. Williams, Esq.

Due to the transient nature of individuals in today’s society, attorneys are frequently being employed to collect judgments that were obtained elsewhere. This is especially true for multi-licensed attorneys who practice in a state in close proximity to the state line of another. For the purposes of this discussion, I will analyze the procedural steps necessary to enforce a Florida Judgment in Georgia, and explain the difference in enforcing a foreign judgment under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Law and through domestication.

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CATEGORY: Florida Business Litigation Blog Practice Areas:

The Life Cycle of Judgment Liens and How to Extend Them

By: Harry M. Wilson, IV, Esq. and James D. Stone, III

While obtaining a judgment against a debtor that owes you money is an important victory, it is often not the final battle one fights against the debtor. Just as there are time limitations on your ability to file an action against a debtor, there are also time limitations to enforce a money judgment in Florida. While the general rule is that the life of a money judgment is 20 years in the state of Florida it is important to know the procedures for using the full 20 years. Read Full Post

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Protection From False Claims Act In Construction

By Harry M. Wilson IV, Esq. and James D. Stone III

The False Claims Act (FCA) dates back to 1863 and was originally intended to fight fraud by defense contractors. The large majority of the cases filed over the past few years have involved medical and pharmaceutical claims. However, with the recent changes in the FCA lowering the standards needed to file suit and the increase in federally funded spending on construction projects there is a strong possibility of increased FCA claims in the construction industry by current and former disgruntled employees. With the increased possibility for these FCA claims the best way to protect your business is to first understand the basics of the FCA and then to establish a good compliance system. Read Full Post

CATEGORY: Florida Construction Industry Law Blog Practice Areas:

An Overview of Condominium Liens in Florida

By Harry M. Wilson, IV, Esq.

Condominium liens are strong tools granted by statute to condominium associations to ensure that unit owners timely pay their assessments for common expenses. The following is an overview of the basic premises of condo lien enforcement and defenses in Florida. Read Full Post

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Understanding the basics of equitable estoppel and using equitable estoppel principles to create insurance coverage in Florida

Most courts nationwide continue to adhere to the majority position asserted by the court in Republic Ins. Co. v. Silverton Elevators, Inc., 493 S.W.2d 748 (Tex. 1973), that estoppel may not be employed to expand coverage not otherwise provided in an insurance contract. See, e.g., Laidlow Environmental Services, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 524 S.E.2d 847, 852 (S.C. Ct. App. 1999) (estoppel and waiver cannot create coverage that does not otherwise exist); Martin v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., 996 S.W.2d 506, 511 (Mo. 1999) (estoppel cannot be used to create coverage); Shepard v. Keystone Insurance Co., 743 F. Supp. 429, 433 (D. Md. 1990) (under Maryland law, “waiver and estoppel cannot be used to create liability where none previously existed, or to extend coverage beyond what was originally intended”); Fli-Back Co., Inc. v. Philadelphia Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co., 502 F.2d 214, 216 (4th Cir. 1974) (same under North Carolina law).

Florida has joined the minority position creating or allowing coverage for an insured based on estoppel. Crown Life Ins. Co. v. McBride, 517 So.2d 660 (Fla. 1987). Read Full Post

CATEGORY: Florida Business Litigation Blog Practice Areas:

Using Florida’s Agricultural Bond Laws As A Collection Tool

As our firm represents many materials suppliers and site work contractors/subcontractors, we are often presented with payment issues that require us to pursue unconventional avenues of recovery to obtain payment. One area in which we have had a good success is through making claims on Agricultural Bonds through the Florida Department of Agriculture. According to Florida law, any person who is engaged within the state in the business of buying, receiving, soliciting, handling, or negotiating agricultural products from or for Florida producers, or their agents, must be licensed and bonded. The Bureau of Agricultural Dealer’s Licenses is responsible for the licensing of dealers in agricultural products. Per the Department of Agriculture, “Florida License and Bond Law is intended to facilitate the marketing of Florida agricultural products by encouraging a better understanding between buyers and sellers and by providing a marketplace that is relatively free of unfair trading practices and defaults. The purpose of the law is to help assure that the producers of products covered by the law receive proper accounting and payment for their products.” If you do business with nurseries, landscaping companies, or virtually anyone who deals in green goods and you like to get paid the money you are rightfully owed, this post should be required reading. Read Full Post

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Independent Contractor vs. Employee – What is your status?

By: Emily C. Williams, Esq.

Employers and employees, alike, are often unaware of the repercussions associated with how they are characterized in the workplace. When two persons agree that one will perform work for the other, the parties should be concerned with the legal significance of whether or not the arrangement creates an employer/employee relationship or an independent contractor relationship. Whether one arrangement exists can result in the following consequences: tax obligations — withholding, social security, and sales, prevailing wage rate obligations, indemnity and liability obligations for wrongful activities, insurance obligations and coverage issues and licensing. Furthermore, an employer is not held liable for the negligent acts of its independent contractors, except where the contractor injures someone to whom the employer owes a non-delegable duty of care, such as where the employer is a school authority and the injured party a pupil. An employer can also be held liable for the negligent selection of an independent contractor. Read Full Post

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Overview of Documentary Stamp Tax in Florida

By Harry M. Wilson, IV, Esq.

Documentary stamp tax is levied on documents as provided under Chapter 201, Florida Statutes. Documents subject to the tax include deeds, bonds, notes and written obligations to pay money and mortgages, liens, and other evidences of indebtedness. The rate of the tax differs depending on the kind of document subject to the tax. Read Full Post

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Pleading Unjust Enrichment in Construction Litigation

By: Emily C. Williams, Esq.

The theory of recovery known unjust enrichment is often used by attorneys in construction litigation actions as an alternative count to claims for breach of contract or for foreclosure of a construction lien. It is not uncommon, however, for unjust enrichment claims to be improperly pled in the complaint, which will often lead to a misguided legal analysis. This, of course, can negatively affect your client’s case at the earliest stage of the dispute.

Unjust enrichment is often referred to as a contract implied in law; however, it is not a contract at all. The theory of unjust enrichment is a legal fiction defined as “an obligation imposed by law to do justice even though it is clear that no promise was ever made or intended.” Tipper v. Great Lakes Chemical Company, 281 So.2d 10, 13 (Fla. 1973). Unlike quantum meruit, unjust enrichment does not require an assent between the parties. Quantum meruit is premised on the expectation of the parties, while unjust enrichment is supported by the interest of society in the prevention of injustice.

One must prove the following elements to recover under the theory of unjust enrichment: 1) lack of an adequate remedy at law; 2) a benefit conferred upon the defendant by the plaintiff coupled with the defendant’s appreciation of the benefit; and 3) acceptance and retention of the benefit under circumstances that make it inequitable for him or her to do so without paying the value of it. Challenge Air Transport, Inc. v. Tranportes Aeros Nacionales, 520 So.2d 323 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988). As this post will reveal, each of these elements present peculiar issues and analytical challenges for the legal practitioner. Read Full Post

CATEGORY: Florida Construction Industry Law Blog Practice Areas:

Understanding the process for employee sexual harassment claims

Frequently our clients ask us general questions regarding the day-to-day operations of their business. In order to prepare a client for how to form corporate policies reacting to sexual harassment claims, we first had to educate them on the process of how an aggrieved employee goes about pursuing a claim. What follows is an overview of the claim filing process. Knowing the process of how employee complaints are made will help your business in formulating a defense if that time should ever come. Read Full Post

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