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Limitation on Real Estate Broker’s Procuring Cause Doctrine

  Here is the scenario? A commercial owner enters into an exclusive listing agreement with a real estate broker that gives the broker the exclusive right to sell or lease property within 1 year in exchange for 6% commission.   The exclusive listing agreement provides that the broker is entitled to the commission “if the property was sold or leased within twelve months after termination of the agreement to any buyer to whom the property was submitted for sale during the continuance of the agreement.”  This is the broker's protection period. The broker introduces the commercial owner to a couple.  However, the couple does...

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Arbitration Clause – Narrow or Broad

Arbitration, as a method of dispute resolution, is a creature of contract.  If you prefer to arbitrate disputes as opposed to litigating disputes in court, then you want a properly drafted arbitration provision in your contract.  If you want all disputes arising out of or relating to your contract to be arbitrated, then you want this specified in your contractual arbitration provision.  Conversely, if you want certain disputes not to be arbitrated or carved-out from arbitration, you want to clarify this in the arbitration provision.  The more clarity, the better, as it will avoid an issue down the road as to whether the dispute...

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Abuse of Discretion Standard of Review when Expert Deemed Unqualified

In a recent article I discussed the importance of an expert's qualifications -- hiring an expert witness to render an opinion within his or her qualifications (training, knowledge, or expertise).  If an expert is not qualified to render an opinion, a trial court has the discretion to preclude that witness from offering the opinion at trial.  For this reason, the standard of review in an appeal where the trial court deemed a witness unqualified is abuse of discretion.  See White v. Ring Power Corp., 43 Fla.L.Weekly D2729a (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) citing Brooks v. State, 762 So. 2d 879, 892 (Fla. 2000)...

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Make Sure Your Expert’s Opinion is Reliable

I use expert witnesses in many cases.  Many.  Experts are an important part of cases, particularly complicated disputes where an expert opinion is absolutely warranted.  But, as I have discussed in prior articles, an expert's opinion needs to have a foundation of reliability, which is governed by the Daubert standard.  Without ensuring that an expert's opinion is reliable, then parties will hire the Joe Blows of the world, pay them a minimal dollar amount, for an outrageous, unsupported, and unqualified opinion.  This, of course, provides no value.  Hence, the Daubert standard or test "requires that '[t]he testimony is based upon sufficient...

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Enforcing Non-Compete Agreement with Injunctive Relief

There are numerous employers that want employees to sign a non-compete, non-disclosure, and non-solicitation agreement (collectively, the “non-compete agreement”).   For good reason, they don’t want to train employees to learn the business’ trade secrets and business practices (e.g., marking strategies, pricing, techniques, customer lists, etc.) only to then compete with the employer and solicit its clients.   The non-compete agreement will allow the employer to move for injunctive relief if a former employee violates the agreement to maintain the status quo and prevent the irreparable harm to the employer. An example is as follows. In Allied Universal Corp. v. Given, 42 Fla....

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Innovative or Alternative Fees Can be a Win-Win!

What is the traditional model of lawyering?  Simply put, it is hourly billing.  There is nothing wrong with this model; however, there are other alternative or innovative attorney's fee models out there that factor in performance, results, and efficiency.  These are models that incentivize performance which is always in a client's best interest.  Stepping out of a comfort zone is tough considering we are all creatures of habit.  But, there are instances where trying something innovative or alternative is a win-win for you from a budgetary standpoint and, importantly, a results standpoint.  If you are interested in learning more about...

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Parol Evidence Inadmissible to Determine Intent of Unambiguous Agreement

Extrinsic or parol evidence is inadmissible to determine the meaning or intent of an unambiguous agreement. See Restoration 1 CFL v. State Farm Ins. Co., 2016 WL 1600331 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016) (error to allow deposition testimony regarding party’s interpretation of assignment when assignment agreement was unambiguous).   “The parol-evidence rule is a substantive rule of law and reduced to its essence, provides that a written document intended by the parties to be the final embodiment of their agreement may not be contradicted, modified or varied by parol evidence.” King v. Bray, 867 So.2d 1224, 1226 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).   While there is...

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Know Your Standard of Appellate Review Regarding the Admissibility of Evidence

The standard of appellate review regarding the trial court’s admissibility of evidence is an abuse of discretion. See Vavrus v. City of Palm Beach Gardens, 927 So.2d 992 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006); Castaneda ex rel. Cardona v. Redlands Christian Migrant Ass’n, Inc., 884 So.2d 1087 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).  Naturally, a party needs to preserve this issue by objecting to the admissibility of the evidence.  If a trial court sustains an objection and excludes the evidence, the party trying to introduce the evidence should make a proffer / offer of proof.  On the other hand, the standard of review for the trial court’s...

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Is Greed Really Good?

    We all remember  the famous "Greed is Good" speech from the movie Wall Street. How do you not love this movie and this speech?  But, is greed really good?  Does, greed really clarify the essence of the evolutionary spirit? When it comes to a dispute, sometimes--and most of the time--it is perhaps better to analyze the dispute from a big picture perspective in order to come a reasonable resolution.   Yes, this reasonable resolution may not result in the resolution you ideally wanted, but it may potentially be the right resolution where greed and principle remain on the outside. It is not always the...

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