Miami Business & Commercial Law Blog

Clients of Florida firm lose investments, owe money

Imagine waking up to find out that everything you had invested with a major brokerage firm was gone. On top of that, your investments failed so badly that you actually owe money.

That's the reality for about 300 clients of a large Florida brokerage. Many of those investors have initiated lawsuits -- and more are still to come -- over the way the firm handled (or mishandled) its clients' money.

Avoid disputes with your subcontractors with these tips

Disputes with a subcontractor can be costly, time-consuming and damaging to the reputation of your construction business. That's why it's far better to try to avoid conflicts in the first place -- at least, as much as possible.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid disputes with your subcontractors:

What's the difference between a material and immaterial breach?

When two parties make a contract, there are often a lot of different provisions and terms that are included. Many of those terms have to do with procedural issues (like how payments are to be made and how often updates are supposed to be given on a project). Other provisions may involve details and plans for a project, including things like design and delivery agreements.

Generally speaking, once you sign a contract, you're bound by all of its terms. You can't pick and choose. Any failure to meet the obligations spelled out in the document -- whether that contract is just two pages or hundreds -- is considered a breach of contract.

BuzzFeed successfully defended in defamation lawsuit

In 2017, BuzzFeed News made the decision to publish a 35-page dossier containing unverified information about the Trump presidential campaign and its possible ties to the Russian government. A Russian technology executive who also heads a tech company located in Florida subsequently sued the news source for defamation because he was named in the dossier.

The document published by BuzzFeed, which is now referred to as the "Steele Dossier," has been the focus of considerable national attention ever since. The Russian executive charged that BuzzFeed was reckless in publishing the dossier, which included allegations that the Florida tech company tried to hack servers belonging to the Democratic Party. After being sued, Buzzfeed did black out the name of the executive and his company in its publications.

Think you don't need an attorney for your business? Think again

When you own your own small business, you accept that risk and worry are a package deal. At some point, you'll probably start wondering whether you need to hire a business attorney.

Frankly, most small business owners put off developing a relationship with an attorney because they're hesitant to spend the money -- or maybe they feel like they're just asking for bad luck! In reality, however, a lawsuit is almost inevitable. Statistically speaking, anywhere between 36 percent and 53 percent of all businesses end up in litigation every year. The best way to defend against a lawsuit is to try to prevent it before it starts.

Could your advertising lead to a lawsuit?

As a small business owner, you naturally want to promote your products or services as much as possible -- but you need to also keep in mind the limitations you are under.

Federal and state laws alike aim to protect consumers from unfair business tactics. The responsibility for making sure that consumers have a fair chance to make informed decisions about their purchases falls squarely on you. If you fail to take that responsibility seriously, you open yourself up to litigation over deceptive trade practices. Quite often, that happens when a business owner or entrepreneur seriously misrepresents a product or service in advertising.

Minimize the problems with change orders with these 3 tips

Change orders are every contractor's nightmare. While some can be easily resolved, others end up throwing both parties into battle over the associated costs and delays.

That's why you want to do everything in your power to minimize the number of change orders you get in the first place. Here are some tips that can help you do that:

Be careful with exclusive use clauses for your tenants

If you own a multi-unit commercial building, whether it's a plaza full of spaces or a building full of offices, beware of the exclusive use clause. Most of your tenants, if they have any experience with commercial leases, will want them. However, agreeing to broad terms could turn your rental property into a nightmare.

Consider this scenario: You rent a space to a coffee shop because you know that it's likely to attract a lot of foot traffic to your plaza -- which is good for everyone. In your haste to get the owners to sign a lease, you agree to an exclusive use clause that prohibits you from renting to a direct competitor and obligates you to enforce limitations on your other tenants.

Florida residents illegally evicted after hurricane

Rental landlords should know that there's a right way and a wrong way to evict a tenant. The wrong way is posting a 72-hour notice on someone's door after a hurricane, having their electrical power cut off and telling them that you want them out so that repairs can be made after a hurricane blew through the area.

That's the experience numerous tenants in apartments held by WNY Holdings LLC in Panama City, Florida, had. The tenants all share similar stories. In many cases, they weren't even contacted directly -- simply told that they needed to have any belongings they cared to keep out of the property within 72 hours. Many of them found windows removed and doors opened to their residents without permission and almost all of them found their electricity turned off in clear violation of the law. Most also claim that there wasn't enough damage from the hurricane to necessitate a move.

What do you do when your home contractor isn't doing the job?

Your home is important to you -- so when you hire a contractor to do renovations or build an addition, you expect your contractor to live up to his or her end of the bargain.

So, what do you do when the work seems to crawl to a stop, leaving you with an unfinished project? Here's the best way to handle the problem: