Miami Business & Commercial Law Blog

Florida small businesses targeted by aggressive ADA lawsuits

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to make life easier and more equitable for people who struggle with disabling conditions of all sorts. It is not, however, meant to be a weapon that can be used to shake down small businesses for cash over minor violations.

Someone has found a method, however, of using the ADA for just that. Essentially, the system works like this:

  1. Someone is sent to a small business to look for minor issues that violate ADA regulations -- like not having the right handle on a door.
  2. Through a firm called The ADA Group that operates out of Montgomery, Alabama, that individual threatens to sue the small business over the violations.
  3. Even if the violations are fixed, the plaintiff files suit.
  4. Then, the plaintiff offers to settle the lawsuit out of court for a fixed sum -- either as a one-time payment or on a payment plan. They give the defendant business owner a short time to either pay up or proceed to court.

Construction company settles with victims of bridge collapse

One of the most horrific construction fails in recent memory involved the collapse of the Florida International University Bridge on March 15, 2018. A total of six people was killed and eight more were injured.

The construction company responsible, Magnum Construction Management, filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year but continued negotiations with the various insurance companies involved. The construction company and the insurers have agreed to a $42 million settlement that -- if approved by the bankruptcy court -- would go to compensate the injury victims and the family members of the deceased for their losses.

Handling embezzlement from within your company

Embezzlement is usually a crime of opportunity and hubris combined. Most embezzlers hold positions of implicit trust inside their companies that make it easy for them to take money without anyone noticing (for a while). That's why your first reaction, once you realize that an employee or business partner has embezzled from the firm, may be shock and horror. After all, you trusted this person!

Your second reaction may be closer to panic. What's going to happen to the trust your clients and business associates have in your company if the word gets out that you've been fooled by someone inside your own business? In this day and age, a reputation for security is everything!

What to consider before you buy into a franchise

Do you dream of owning your own business? Has a franchise opportunity come your way that seems like it might be a perfect fit for your aspirations?

Before you sign any agreements, you need to make certain that you understand as much as you can about how franchising works -- and the particular franchise you're considering.

Contracts with social media influencers

Social media influencers are the biggest thing in marketing today -- especially if you're trying to capture the interest of the Millennial Generation or members of Generation Z.

However, you need to make sure that you put down some ground rules when you start working with an influencer -- before you find your company's reputation moving way off track.

What is malicious prosecution in a civil case?

You've probably heard of malicious prosecution in terms of criminal cases and prosecutorial overreach, but did you know that malicious prosecution can also happen in civil claims? They can -- and when they do, they can be very destructive to your life and business.

Occasionally, someone will file civil lawsuits that have no real merit simply to harass, intimidate or embarrass the other party. In some instances, the plaintiff may use the lawsuit -- or a series of lawsuits -- as a method of extortion (promising to drop the suit in exchange for what he or she really wants). Other times, the plaintiff's intention is to basically defame the defendant by making accusations about the defendant's business public and hurting their reputation in their community.

Do you really need a nondisclosure agreement?

Nondisclosure agreements had, at one point, become so common that just about every company had every employee sign one -- and that actually turned into a problem. Employees balked at signing agreements that they felt were unfair, and courts sometimes refused to enforce agreements when they were overly broad.

It's much more effective to only ask for a nondisclosure agreement when it makes sense. Here are the times you really need a nondisclosure agreement with another party to protect your interests:

  1. You need to disclose proprietary information in order to present your ideas or plan to a potential investor, distributor or business partner.
  2. You are using the services of a company or individual who may, in the process of providing those services, gain access to important or sensitive information. IT services are one example of where that could happen.
  3. You're demonstrating a new product or piece of technology to a potential licensee or buyer.
  4. You're hiring a new employee who will have access to proprietary information or sensitive information, and you want to ensure that the employee doesn't take confidential data to another company.
  5. You're promoting an employee who will now have access to that kind of confidential data as part of his or her new position.
  6. You're thinking of selling the business, and need to share financial or marketing data with a prospective buyer.

Miami Beach, cannabis company at odds over zoning restrictions

A cannabis company signed a 10-year lease and put $1.2 million into property renovations and construction on the site of its new Miami Beach marijuana dispensary -- and then had its final building permit abruptly denied because the new dispensary would be roughly 100 feet from an existing dispensary.

The problem wasn't with the cannabis company's plans. The denial came because the Miami Beach planning board suddenly decided to add new zoning restrictions. Wary that the area might become a "cannabis hub," they decided that new dispensaries had to be at least 300 feet away from any other dispensary. That automatically put a moratorium on any permits that conflicted -- including those that were not quite finalized.

Getting ready to sign a lease? Don't skip these steps

Finding the right space for your commercial enterprise is important -- and you may be anxious to jump on the lease as soon as possible.

Hold on just a bit. There are a few things about the fine print that you really need to take some time to review.

Florida legislators seek to protect businesses from lawsuits

A slip-and-fall or some other kind of personal injury that takes place on the property of a business can be a nightmare for the business owner -- and the Florida House is hoping to change that.

House Bill 17 (HB17) would impose a strict $1 million cap on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, the loss of capacity for enjoyment in life and other losses that aren't easily defined in dollar amounts. The bill is being sponsored by Representative Tom Leek, who is also the chief legal counsel of a Daytona Beach insurance brokerage firm called Foundation Risk Partners.