Citigroup Security Cases – We represented Citigroup in 26 separate cases that were filed by opt puts from the Worldcom class action who then brought individual claims against Citigroup. Those claims were filed in state court in Florida. Initially the Plaintiffs sought collectively $500,000,000 in damages. The claims consisted of standard security law claims, plus claims for fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation. Those cases have recently settled in a confidential settlement. Lou Mrachek and Roy Fitzgerald were primarily responsible for this matter.
Barfield v. Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation – In this case we represented HCA which is the largest owner and operator of hospitals in the United States. The case was brought by Dr. Barfield claiming that HCA had tortiously interfered with his contract to manage two emergency rooms at two hospitals in Palm Beach County. His initial demand was approximately $11,000,000 and after a multi-week jury trial the jury awarded him approximately $3,000,000. That case was then settled by way of a confidential settlement. L. Louis Mrachek was primarily responsible for this matter.
Kehoe v. Fidelity – This is a class action in which we represented Fidelity Federal Saving Bank which is a local financial institution. The class action was brought on behalf of approximately 600,000 individuals who had their confidential driver’s registration information accessed by Fidelity over a number of years. The access allegedly violated the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act. The Plaintiff class sought statutory damages of $2,500 per class member which totaled approximately $1.4 billion. After several years of litigation in both the trial court and the appellate court, the case was settled by establishing a $50,000,000 fund out of which each member of the class could recover up to $160 per member if he or she filed appropriate papers. Early on in the case the trial court granted Fidelity summary judgment on the issue of whether actual damages were required before there could be an award of the statutory minimum of $2,500. That order was appealed to the Eleventh Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit Opinion is found at Kehoe v. Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust, 421 F.3d 1209 (11th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S.Ct. 1612 (Mem.) (Mar. 27. 2006). The case settled when Fidelity Federal was to be acquired. Lou Mrachek, Roy Fitzgerald, III and Alan Rose were primarily responsible for this matter.
Atkinson v. Zimmerman – We conducted a one-week trial involving a securities claim brought by Atkinson seeking $1.75 million in damages. As a result of that jury trial, the jury entered a defense verdict for Zimmerman, finding that he owed no damages to Atkinson. Lou Mrachek and Roy Fitzgerald were primarily responsible for this matter.
Sarkes Tarzian v. U.S. Trust – In this case Sarkes Tarzian alleged that U.S. Trust had broken a contract with Sarkes Tarzian to sell it a number of its own shares which were involved in an estate administered by U.S. Trust. The case was tried before a jury with Sarkes Tarzian seeking $60,000,000 in damages. The jury awarded $4,000,000 in damages to Sarkes Tarzian and against our client, U.S. Trust. We appealed that case to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Illinois. The Seventh Circuit reversed the jury verdict and ordered the trial court to enter an award in favor of U.S. Trust which it did. The Seventh Circuit ruling was appealed by Sarkes Tarzian to the U.S. Supreme Court and that Court refused to consider the appeal and denied the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by Sarkes Tarzian. The appellate cites for the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in this case and the Supreme Court’s rulings in this case are found atSarkes Tarzian, Inc. v. U.S. Trust Company of Florida Savings Bank, 397 F.3d 577 (7th Cir. 2005), reh’g and reh’g en banc denied, (Mar. 21, 2005), cert. denied, 126 S.Ct. 398 (U.S. Oct. 3, 2005) (NO. 04-1712). Lou Mrachek and Alan Rose were primarily responsible for this matter.
Eastern Bank, et al / WCI Communities, Inc. – In this case the firm represented Eastern Bank, a Massachusetts lending institution which had loaned ten million dollars to individuals and a series of development companies for development of projects in the Naples area of Florida. The principal borrower and guarantor had died and there was a complicated commercial dispute between other partners in the development activities and the Bank concerning repayment and the terms and conditions concerning the transaction. The case settled and the client recovered all of its funds plus all of its costs and attorney’s fees.
Somerset Pharmaceuticals v. Noven Pharmaceuticals – The firm represented Somerset Pharmaceuticals which is a pharmaceutical company located in Tampa, Florida which is 50% owned by two public companies, Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Watson Pharmaceuticals. The case was a complicated intellectual property case involving the rights to certain patents for the revolutionary transdermal delivery of Selegiline Hydrochloride through the skin. Somerset filed suit against Noven for the contract concerning the rights to certain patents and technology concerning transdermal delivery system of the product which was solely produced and patented by Somerset Pharmaceuticals. In addition, the Somerset case was originally filed in state court, removed to federal court and remanded to state court. Somerset was successful in including claims for various intentional torts. After approximately four years of litigation this case settled in a confidential settlement. Somerset’s product has been approved by the FDA and is presently the only transdermal product on the market to treat depression.
Perfect Putter v. Callaway Golf – The firm defended Callaway Golf in the United States Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida against intellectual property claims under federal and Florida law concerning the development of Callaway Golf’s Odyssey White Hot Two-Ball Putter, the most successful putter in the history of Callaway Golf. The claim was originally filed by the Plaintiff in state court and was successfully removed to federal court by Callaway Golf when the firm prevailed on its motion to remand based on fraudulent joinder. After several intense years of litigation a confidential settlement agreement was entered into. Callaway Golf continues to produce many versions of the White Hot Two-Ball Putter.
Martin County class action lawsuit. We represent Martin County as special litigation counsel defending claims against the County as the operator of the Stuart Airport, also known as Witham Field. This is a proposed class action lawsuit filed by class representatives on behalf of 5,000 homeowners seeking a judgment of inverse condemnation related to the aircraft operations at Stuart airport. Plaintiffs allege that the increased noise, vibration, and exhaust have resulted in a taking of Plaintiffs’ property and constitute nuisance and trespass. We successfully obtained a Court Order requiring Plaintiffs to prove that their properties substantially diminished in value as a direct result of aircraft operations, as opposed to merely showing a “decreased increase” in value. After the ruling, the Class I representative Plaintiffs, who reside closest to the airport runways, agreed to settle their claims and release the County. The remaining Plaintiffs have admitted that they cannot meet the standard imposed by the Court. In a related action filed by airport opponents, we successfully defended a lawsuit seeking a mandatory injunction requiring Martin County to remove the airport tower, runways and taxiway improvements, buildings and roadways. The plaintiff airport opponents claimed that Martin County violated Section 163.3215, Florida Statutes, in adopting the Witham Airport Master Plan (“AMP”), because the AMP was allegedly inconsistent with Martin County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. We obtained a summary judgment disposing of these claims. Scott Konopka was primarily responsible for this matter.
Entegra Roof Tile Corporation vs. Florida Preferred Mutual Insurance Company – Kemper Insurance Company commenced a civil action against Roof Tile in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that our client, a large roof tile manufacturer and roof installation company, breached several contracts with Kemper by failing to make cash collateral payments under the terms of the Worker’s Compensation and Employers Liability Policies issued by Kemper. Kemper claimed several million dollars in damages. Our client counterclaimed for Breach of Contract, Breach of Obligation of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and Negligent Misrepresentation, alleging that Kemper mishandled claims and inflated fees, resulting in an increase in the experience modification rates determined by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The case settled on a favorable but confidential basis several weeks before trial.
Recent reported decisions worked on by the Firm’s lawyers include:
Barash v. Siler, 124 Fed.Appx. 689; 2005 WL 551653 (2nd Cir. 2005).
In an action in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the firm defended Paul and Eric Siler in an action brought against them by an assignee of an unpaid promissory note. The firm prevailed at the trial court on the grounds that the action was barred by the statutes of limitations. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court judgment.
Boswell v. Boswell, 2005 W.L. 906189, N04D04-2167, (April 20, 2005 Fla. 4th DCA).
In a complex shareholder’s derivative action, the plaintiff, representing minority shareholders, sued two individual non-resident defendants who were represented by the firm. The firm moved to dismiss the complaint as to them for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Trial Court held a contested evidentiary hearing and ruled that it did not have personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendants. The Fourth District Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, in part holding that there could be no tort committed in Florida by the non-resident defendants because a company suffers injuries where its headquarters are located, and in this case, the headquarters of the company in question was located in Missouri.
Atkins v. Topp Comm, Inc., 874 So. 2d 626 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).
In another shareholder derivative action, the defendant company requested the appointment of a special investigator to ascertain whether it was in the best interest of the company to continue the shareholder derivative action, on one hand, or whether it should be dismissed, on the other hand. The law firm represented the former lawyers of the company who were included in the shareholder derivative action under breach of fiduciary duty and malpractice theories. The special investigator ruled in favor of our firm’s clients, determining that the derivative was not in the companies’ best interest as to these defendants. The trial court found that the independent investigator acted in good faith and that his conclusions were reasonable. The Fourth District Court of Appeal sustained that ruling and, in a case of first impression in Florida, held that a Florida Court was not required to exercise its own business judgment when reviewing the propriety of an independent investigator’s recommendation, rather the Court only had to decide whether the investigator made his determination in good faith, after conducting a reasonable investigation. The Court did not have to apply its own independent business judgment in reviewing the report, although, the Court could do so, if it so desired.
Martin v. Automobili Lamborghini Exclusive, Inc. , 307 F.3d 1332, 54 Fed.R.Serv.3d 164, 15 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1102 (11th Cir.(Fla.) Sep 30, 2002) (NO. 00-12489).
PGA Property Owners Ass’n, Inc. v. Golf Villas II , 813 So.2d 256 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. Apr 10, 2002) (NO. 4D01-1041).