Past Case Results From Isicoff Ragatz
100 Emerald Beach Way LC v. Thornton
The Firm represented husband–and–wife property owners of a large, oceanfront estate in Palm Beach in a dispute with their neighbor over the scope of a recorded easement. The neighbor claimed that the easement, which provided for “ingress and egress,” also included the right to stop or park temporarily on the easement and the right to place trash and lawn debris on the easement for collection. The Firm argued that the easement provided solely for ingress and egress. The trial court found that the easement provided solely for ingress and egress, and the trial court permanently enjoined any other use. The trial court also found the neighbor in contempt for violating its easement rulings. The neighbor appealed, and the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed both rulings.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. University of Miami
The Firm represented a private university in a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and a professor. Plaintiffs alleged that the university violated the Equal Pay Act and Title VII by paying her less than a male professor within her Department. The Firm defended the claims on two main grounds: (1) that the two professors did not perform the same job and (2) that the pay differential was not based on sex but, rather, was based on market forces, experience, reputation, impact in their respective fields and/or job performance. Following a five-day jury trial, the jury rejected the Plaintiffs’ claims and returned a complete verdict in favor of the university. Thereafter, the Court awarded the University its costs incurred during suit.
Forbes v. Millionaire Gallery, Inc.
The Firm represented a designer, manufacturer and seller of memorabilia pieces that depict celebrities, musicians, athletes and historic figures and events. A team of three employees resigned from the Firm’s client and opened a directly-competing business using the client’s confidential, proprietary and trade-secret information. The Firm brought claims against the three employees and their business for breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act and breach of fiduciary duty. Following a jury trial in February-March 2018, the jury found in favor of the Firm’s client on all claims and awarded nearly $500,000.00 in damages on each claim. Because the Defendants’ misappropriation of trade secrets was willful and malicious, the Court also awarded the Firm’s client exemplary damages (double damages) and attorneys’ fees. Ultimately, the trial court entered judgment in the total amount of $1,517,070.46 against all Defendants, jointly and severally. To prevent future misappropriation and unfair competition, the trial court entered a permanent injunction that prohibits Defendants from using any of the Firm’s client’s confidential, proprietary and trade-secret information. One of the Defendants appealed, and the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed in a written opinion.
Golden v. University of Miami
The Firm represented a private university in a breach of contract lawsuit brought by its former head football coach, who was terminated prior to the expiration of his operative employment agreement. The coach claimed that he was entitled to a $6 million buyout payment pursuant to his interpretation of the agreement’s buyout provision. The university filed a counterclaim for declaratory relief, which asked the Court to declare that the agreement’s plain language entitled the coach to a buyout of $2 million. Following discovery, the Firm moved for final summary judgment on all claims. The Court agreed with the university’s position and held that the coach was entitled to nothing more than the $2 million buyout provided for by the agreement.
In re: Miami Neurological Institute, LLC
The Firm represented a private university against claims brought by the bankruptcy trustee of an insolvent neurosurgical practice seeking to recover tuition payments made by the debtor to the university for certain of the debtor’s executives to attend the university’s executive MBA program in the healthcare sector.
The trustee’s theory of the case was that the debtor had paid personal expenses of the executives for which the debtor received no value. The university’s theory of the case was that the university’s MBA program provided value both to the executives and to their employer, the debtor. After a bench trial, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled in favor of the university, finding that the university’s MBA program did, in fact, provide reasonably equivalent value to the debtor.
Goldberg v. Florida International University
The Firm represented a public university in a lawsuit brought by a former student enrolled in its medical school. The student alleged that the medical school failed to accommodate his disability and dismissed him from school in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The medical school contended that it properly accommodated the student and dismissed him solely because of his poor academic performance. Following extensive discovery and briefing, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida entered summary judgment in favor of the medical school on all claims. The student appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment.
Doe v. University of Miami
The Firm represented a private university in a lawsuit brought by a former student. The student brought claims under Title IX and the Rehabilitation Act, alleging that the university failed to respond adequately after she reported that she had been sexually assaulted by another student. The university contended that it promptly and properly responded to the student’s report. Following extensive discovery and briefing, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida entered summary judgment in favor of the university on all claims.
Keith v. University of Miami
The Firm represented a private university and a program director in a lawsuit brought by a former employee. The employee alleged that she was terminated by the university for raising complaints about her entitlement to overtime compensation and health-insurance benefits. She sued her former employer (the university) and supervisor (the program director) under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In a case of first impression, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the lawsuit, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim, adopting the arguments advanced by the Firm.
Lee v. Florida International University
The Firm represented a public university in a certiorari proceeding brought by an undergraduate student, who challenged the university’s decision to suspend him for two years. Following full briefing and oral argument, the Appellate Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court denied the student’s petition for writ of certiorari and affirmed the university’s disciplinary decision.
Nelson v. Zimmerman Advertising, LLC
The Firm represented an advertising agency in a lawsuit brought by a former executive, who claimed that he was fired in retaliation for his alleged refusal to falsify a client proposal and that he was owed commissions under his employment agreement.
Following discovery, the Firm moved for summary judgment on all claims, arguing that the employee properly had been terminated due to performance issues and was not owed any commissions. The Court granted the motion and entered summary judgment in favor of the advertising agency on all claims.
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. v. Gutierrez
The Firm represented two law firms and their client in an attorneys’ fee lien dispute brought by the client’s former lawyers. The client’s former lawyers claimed entitlement to a portion of a contingency fee generated from representing the client, even though the client had discharged her former lawyers several years prior. The Firm successfully defended against the lien claim. Meanwhile, the former lawyers filed a separate lawsuit, in which they sought a portion of the contingency fee under multiple contractual and tort theories. The Firm obtained summary judgment on all claims based on the defenses of res judicata and collateral estoppel. The former lawyers appealed both decisions, but the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower courts’ rulings.
DePrince v. Starboard Cruise Services, Inc.
The Firm represented a company that operates jewelry boutiques on cruise ships. While on a cruise, the plaintiff entered the boutique and requested a price quote to purchase a 20-carat loose diamond. The store clerk mistakenly quoted the total price as $235,000.00. That, however, was the per-carat price; the actual total price of the diamond was nearly $5,000,000.00. The plaintiff, who was accompanied by a certified gemologist, purchased the diamond for the misquoted price, and the boutique canceled the sale a few days later upon realizing the mistake. The plaintiff brought a breach-of-contract claim against the boutique, seeking to enforce the sale. The Firm asserted the affirmative defense of unilateral mistake. Following a weeklong trial in April 2016, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Firm’s client based on its defense of unilateral mistake. Final judgment was entered in favor of the Firm’s client, and the plaintiff appealed. After protracted appellate proceedings, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and, in accordance with the Firm’s arguments, clarified Florida law in a unanimous en banc opinion.
Haas Automation, Inc. v. Fox
The Firm represented two married couples who attempted to sell their oceanfront homes in Golden Beach through an auction. The high bidder at the auction later reneged on its high bid and refused to purchase the homes. The Firm brought claims against the bidder for breach of contract and declaratory relief, seeking to retain the $1,000,000.00 deposit that had been placed by the bidder in order to be eligible to bid at the auction. Following a bench trial in April 2016, the court concluded that the Firm’s clients were entitled to the $1,000,000.00 deposit, plus interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. The bidder appealed, and the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed, resulting in a recovery of more than $1,400,000.00 for the Firm’s clients.
ETW Corp. v. Gotta Have It Golf, Inc.
The Firm represented a sports memorabilia distributor in extensive litigation with the corporate entities through which Tiger Woods and other professional golfers conduct their business affairs. The memorabilia distributor had a license agreement with Tiger Woods’ company, pursuant to which he was required to autograph a certain number of items per year. Midway through the term of that agreement, Woods stopped signing. The Firm brought claims for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and dealing and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The case proceeded to a jury trial. Following a seven-day trial, the jury found in favor of the Firm’s client on all claims, ultimately resulting in a judgment of over $1,200,000.00. That judgment later was affirmed by the Third District Court of Appeal.
Following that victory, the Firm moved for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs against Woods’ company. The trial court awarded more than $800,000.00. Woods appealed, but the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the fee and cost award. In addition, the Third District Court of Appeal awarded the Firm’s client its appellate attorneys’ fees and costs, resulting in an additional $50,000.00 for the client.
Gentry Technology of South Carolina, Inc. v. Baptist Health South Florida, Inc.
The Firm represented a healthcare conglomerate in a case brought by a communications engineering company, which arose out of the installation and maintenance of a digital satellite distribution system. The communications company brought claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, theft of services, fraudulent concealment, and civil conspiracy. After the district court dismissed most of the company’s claims, the Firm moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims of unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy. The district court granted the Firm’s motion and entered summary judgment in favor of the Firm’s client on all remaining claims. The communications company moved for reconsideration, which the district court denied.
Meyer v. Health Management Associates, Inc.
The Firm represented a corporate compliance officer in a wrongful termination lawsuit under Florida’s Private-Sector Whistleblower’s Act against his former employer, a national healthcare corporation. After the Firm defeated the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the case was resolved amicably through a confidential settlement. In addition to that lawsuit, the Firm also brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against its client’s former employer. The United States later intervened in the qui tam action. This matter generated national media attention, including a segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes entitled “The Cost of Admission” (first aired December 2, 2012).
No. CACE 11-25334 (19) (Fla. 17th Cir. Ct.) and United States ex rel. Paul Meyer v. Health Mgmt. Assocs., Inc., No. 11-62445-CIV (S.D. Fla.)
University of Miami v. Great American Assurance Company
The Firm successfully represented the University of Miami in an important matter of first impression in Florida. After a young child claimed to have suffered serious injury while attending a summer swim camp hosted on the University’s property, the child’s parents sued both the camp and the University. The camp was insured under a general liability policy issued by Great American Assurance Company, and the University was an additional insured on that policy. Despite the fact that each co-defendant alleged that it was relieved from liability based on the negligence of the other, Great American refused to provide the University separate and independent legal counsel. The University retained the Firm to provide independent counsel and filed a declaratory action for indemnification of attorneys’ fees and costs based on breach of the insurance policy and bad faith. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Great American, and the University appealed. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed that judgment, holding that the two insureds’ allegations of negligence created a conflict that required the insurer to provide separate and independent counsel for each.
Gulf Group Holdings, Inc. v. Coast Asset Management Corporation
The Firm represented a tax deed purchasing agent in a breach-of-contract lawsuit against a hedge fund investor. Following a week-and-a-half long jury trial, the Firm obtained a complete plaintiff’s verdict in excess of $20.6 million for its client.
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