Our administrative practice includes representation of clients in matters before state and federal environmental agencies, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Florida Department of Revenue, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Florida Department of Health. A significant portion of our practice is devoted to the healthcare arena - defending health care professionals in licensure matters and advising health care providers regarding Medicaid, insurance, and other regulatory matters.
Our Business Practice Section provides a wide range of services for the firm’s clients. The major areas of service are:
Our attorneys have represented clients in hundreds of millions of dollars of construction disputes and projects ranging from the simple to the complex. We represent architects and engineers, owners and developers, contractors and subcontractors, bonding and insurance firms, and suppliers and distributors in civil court litigation, arbitration, and administrative proceedings involving:
We also provide representation and counsel in drafting contract documents, contract review and negotiations, contract administration, pre-claim assistance, and risk management.
Under the Florida Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers are required to maintain compliance with an ever-increasing array of regulations designed to eliminate discrimination in the workplace and balance the needs of families with those of business. We assist our clients in maintaining compliance with regulations by keeping them abreast of new laws and regulations, working with them to establish appropriate employee policies and procedures, and advising them on specific employment-related issues as they arise.
Our primary goal is to help employers successfully navigate the maze of regulations and avoid discrimination and related claims in the workplace. When such claims do arise, we assist clients in investigating them and, when necessary, engage our litigation practice to defend them in state and federal courts and before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
We maintain a nationwide environmental practice, offering consulting and litigation services in most areas of environmental law. Our attorneys are recognized practitioners in the areas of hazardous waste, environmental permitting, soil and groundwater contamination and environmental insurance regulatory compliance matters. Our environmental attorneys are active in The Florida Bar, including the Environmental and Land Use Law Section and Administrative Law Section. We author numerous articles on environmental and land use matters in legal and industry publications and participate in seminars for The Florida Bar, Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, insurance companies, and trade organizations.
In counseling our clients, we emphasize consistent environmental compliance and assist them in interpreting federal and state environmental requirements. Our attorneys frequently work with technical consultants and experts and often conduct on-site examinations of industry production lines or proposed development locations. Our environmental litigation includes permitting matters, insurance coverages, contamination incidents and enforcement actions in state and federal courts.
We practice before the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; the United States Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers; the United States Environmental Protection Agency; the Florida Department of Community Affairs; the U.S. Congress; the Florida Legislature; the Florida Governor and Cabinet; Water Management Districts; and other entities responsible for establishing and implementing environmental laws and regulations.
Family law encompasses a broad range of legal topics involving family dynamics, marriage and children. Common family law subjects include pre- and post-marital planning, divorce or annulment, child custody and visitation rights ("parenting plans"), division of assets, child support and spousal support/alimony. Family law also includes paternity, adoption, guardianship, child protection, domestic violence and temporary injunctions (sometimes called restraining orders).
Each family law situation is different. Many clients are unsure of the process, their rights, their obligations and what to expect. We discuss each client's concerns and work with each client to map our course through the family law matter affecting the client's life. We treat each client with professionalism and respect and advocate for their interests, whether through informal resolution, mediation or litigation.
Our family law practice covers all areas of family law except adoption. We stand ready to assist our clients navigate this frequently confusing and emotionally taxing area of the law and help them plan for the future.
Our attorneys represent a wide array of hospitals and healthcare providers in Florida and South Georgia in malpractice claims in civil court and in licensure and disciplinary matters before regulatory boards and agencies. We also provide legal, business, and risk management advice to hospitals, healthcare professionals to assist them in developing and protecting their practices and businesses.
As general counsel for the Florida Association of Blood Banks, Inc. and counsel for several blood banks throughout Florida, we are involved in transfusion-related litigation and legislative activity. Our attorneys also represent nursing homes in a variety of civil matters, including those arising from Florida’s Residents’ Rights Act.
With more than 30 years of experience in civil trials and appeals of significant tort and commercial matters, our practice includes a broad spectrum of litigation. We enjoy trying cases and have the skill and experience necessary to vigorously litigate every aspect of a case. We pride ourselves on providing professional, personalized services to each client to meet their litigation goals. We concentrate primarily on the following areas of litigation:
Our lawyers have significant experience in both state and federal trial and appellate courts.
Trudy E. Innes Richardson is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Family Law Mediator. She uses her experience both as a family law attorney and mediator as well as her experience as a spouse in a blended family to assist parties in resolving family law problems.
Ms. Innes Richardson mediates cases with represented and unrepresented parties in all areas of family law disputes except adoptions. She offers mediation services in both the Tallahassee and Crawfordville offices of the firm, and is available to travel to other jurisdictions by prior arrangement.
In addition to mediating contested matters, she also offers mediation and document drafting services for people who want to resolve matters between themselves and file their own divorce or modification action without hiring lawyers. Recognizing that all contested family law cases in the Second Circuit are required to mediate prior to setting a final hearing, Ms. Innes Richardson offers a sliding scale for parties, based on income.
Geoff Schwartz, Bob Fingar, George Hatch, and Francie Lowe head the firm’s petroleum practice group. As a firm, we have provided legal services to the Florida Petroleum Marketing and Convenience Store Association (“FPMA”) and its members for over 30 years. Petroleum marketing and its related businesses have their own set of unique challenges in an ever-changing legal and regulatory landscape. Over the years, we have tailored the legal services we provide to help petroleum marketers meet those challenges, and we provide a wide array of legal services to do that.
We have been at the forefront of the development of Florida’s petroleum cleanup programs. Those programs have served as the model for other cleanup programs throughout the nation. Bob Fingar regularly interacts with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and local environmental agencies to ensure that the environmental statutes and rules are applied correctly when issues arise with our clients. We have represented petroleum marketers, property owners, and environmental consultants in a wide range of matters involving contamination cleanup and reimbursement, to include resolving coverage disputes with insurance companies.
We have worked closely with the Florida Department of Revenue in revising the fuel tax statutes and rules and the manner in which the fuel tax laws are administered. We regularly assist members of the petroleum industry in fuel tax and sales tax matters.
We have represented petroleum clients in a variety of regulatory matters before the Florida Department of Legal Affairs and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
We assist petroleum marketers in the review and preparation of a wide variety of supply and distribution contracts, leases and contracts, franchise agreements that form the basis for the business relationships up and down the distribution chain.
We have developed significant experience in assisting marketers in the purchase and sale of petroleum properties and related assets. Francie Lowe combines her real estate experience with Geoff Schwartz's years of industry experience to provide comprehensive representations of marketeers in those often complicated transactions.
George Hatch and other lawyers in our litigation group strive to provide our petroleum clients with the best possible assistance in a variety of disputes ranging from defending landowners against contamination claims brought by state and federal agencies and third parties, to defending and prosecuting actions involving antitrust, franchise law, contract claims, and insurance coverage claims for petroleum contamination.
Petroleum Hotline. We have learned over the years that petroleum marketers often have a simple question that can be answered by a simple phone call or an email (email@example.com). That is why we have the Petroleum Hotline (1-800-226-7091). At no charge to FPMA members, lawyers in our practice group are available to provide legal counseling in a variety of areas.
Estate Planning ensures that your property and assets will pass to your loved ones in the manner you wish, while minimizing the amount of taxes payable upon your death. Our estate planning practice covers a wide range of needs including the preparation of wills and codicils, the creation of trusts, the preparation of durable powers of attorney, limited powers of attorney, and other similar instruments to assist with the management and ultimate passing of assets upon death. Estate planning should also include medical needs planning such as a living will, health care designation and power of attorney for health care decision making and planning for disability should someone become disabled and unable to work.
Probate is a judicial proceeding in which the assets of a deceased person are collected, creditors are notified and paid, estate taxes are paid, and the remaining assets and property are distributed to the heirs by law, or as expressed in a Will. We assist personal representatives (executors) and surviving family members with all aspects of the Florida probate process. Additionally, we assist out of state personal representatives (executors) and surviving family members with Florida judicial administration of Florida assets owned by deceased residents of other states.
Our representation of a wide variety of professionals in malpractice claims now extends into its fourth decade. We pride ourselves on working diligently with our clients to resolve claims efficiently to their satisfaction. We also pride ourselves on having the skill and experience necessary to vigorously defend claims through every level of litigation, including trials and appeals. Our representation includes, but it not limited to, the following:
Claims arising out of insurance and financial entity insolvencies; audits; tax advice and business planning advice.
Claims arising from the design or construction of high-rise and low-rise condominiums and office buildings, schools, hospitals, single-family residences, roads and highways, bridges, utilities, industrial facilities, and other matters throughout Florida, South Georgia, and in several international venues.
Claims arising from legal representation including litigation, legal services for real estate and condominium projects, corporate disputes, estate tax and planning advice, and other matters.
Claims against hospitals, physicians, dentists, advance registered nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors, blood banks, psychiatrists, optometrists, mental health professionals, and other healthcare providers involving complex and serious medical conditions.
Claims arising from real estate transactions involving high-rise condominiums, unimproved land, and residential and commercial properties.
Claims arising out of boundary surveys, foundation surveys, topographical surveys, plats, maps, flood certifications, and other matters.
Claims involving other professionals such as appraisers, insurance agents, and contractors.
Our attorneys can assist you in the negotiation and preparation of contract documents to purchase or sell your commercial property. We are title agents for a number of title insurance underwriters and can provide you with a title insurance policy to give you confidence that you have clear and unencumbered title to your property. We can also assist you in developing your property for higher and better uses. We have experience in platting, subdivision development, and restrictive covenants. Our attorneys can represent you in all phases of your real estate acquisition and development from drafting your contract to purchase, through your due diligence, financing, development, and subsequent sale of the developed parcel.
We can assist you in negotiation and drafting of commercial leases for office buildings, land leases, and commercial retail centers. Our attorneys also have experience litigating commercial lease disputes.
We can assist you in both commercial and residential condominium development. Our attorneys have been involved in the acquisition and financing of property for development of condominiums as well as drafting the documents for approval by the state of Florida for condominium projects. We have also represented developers in condominium conversion projects.
Our attorneys have represented local and national lenders in mortgage financing for all size projects, commercial, retail, and residential transactions. We can provide title insurance to ensure that the mortgage lender is taking first priority. Our experience ranges from drafting mortgages, promissory notes, construction loan agreements, loan modification agreements, revolving credit lines and loan development agreements. Our attorneys also provide representation in foreclosure of mortgages in all state courts.
Our attorneys have experience in various areas of zoning, land use, and permitting. We have represented developers before numerous governmental and quasi-governmental authorities, at both state and local levels.