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Miami Business & Commercial Law Blog

Florida banks optimistic on commercial lending

It appears that Florida strategists who advised investors that good times were just around the corner may have been correct. The massive numbers of foreclosures that occurred during the recession are mostly resolved, and the latest news from the Florida banking industry is that commercial real estate lending is heating up. After many years of little to no lending opportunities, banks are cautiously putting out ‘open for business’ signs. 

For instance, Wells Fargo is looking closely at borrowers who want to develop properties pertaining to the industrial market, retail, multifamily rental properties, and some condominiums.  In an effort to avoid some of the mistakes made during the recession, Wells Fargo is carefully vetting borrowers and looking to lend only to those with experience. That being said, the bank is optimistic that South Florida has left the downturn behind and is in now trending toward growth.

Florida judge unhappy with wireless companies' strategies

Business owners often sue competitors for claims related to unfair competition. Restaurants argue that other establishments duplicate décor and menus. Sales companies complain that competing firms steal employees or customer lists. Luxury clothing designers worry that customers might confuse cheap knock-offs with the real thing. Musicians accuse singers of taking their lyrics. The same holds true for wireless device firms Apple, Inc. and Google, Inc. The two behemoths have been locked in Florida litigation since 2010; they accuse each other of improperly copying aspects of the other's wireless gadgets.

Recently, a Florida judge angrily accused Apple, Inc. and Google, Inc. of using business litigation as a strategy when they should instead be faithfully attempting to solve their disagreements. Instead of entering into negotiations or arbitration to resolve portions of the dispute, the parties have been adding claims. The judge used strong language to advise the parties that he did not find their conduct acceptable, and he especially was not interested in using court time to simplify the overwhelmingly large case. Indeed, the litigation has become so complicated that it contains 180 separate patent-related claims filed by the two companies.

Miami commercial leasing market improves

Over the past several years of the recession, Florida's economy could be described as dismal. Jobs were scarce, banks did not want to lend money, and businesses were not inclined to take risks on leasing new office space. Few companies were expanding and instead were staying put or even downsizing. For these reasons, some experts advised against investing in Florida commercial real estate.

In an encouraging sign of an improving economy, the office real estate market has picked up dramatically. Recently, three large tenants have signed new leases for over 10,000 square feet respectively, in Miami and South Florida. One, a bank, will be enjoying around 62,000 square feet of new office space spread over three floors, plus a 2,000 square foot area in the building's lobby. Other business, such as a Latin American jewelry company and several attorney offices, are looking to begin contract negotiations to lease large amounts of space. Experts recommend that any company needing to lease over 5,000 square feet in Miami begin its search at least a year prior to the prospective move-in date.

Florida hospice fights sexual harassment claims

News stories that describe sexual harassment litigation are often eye catching. The articles are rife with accusations of suggestive comments and inappropriate subject matter in the workforce. At first glance, it is tempting to believe the allegations, but it is critical to remember that there are two sides to every story, and not all employees tell the truth. Oftentimes, employees have motives to exaggerate or even falsify stories about their co-workers or supervisors.

Florida residents may have seen the recent business litigation filed by three female hospice workers who claim that certain male employees and managers were negligently supervised. They allege that the men used crude language in reference to female body parts, told offensive jokes, and spoke of their sexual desire in the workplace. The workers further allege they were wrongfully discharged in retaliation for bringing the situation to management's attention. Representatives from the hospice strongly denied the claims and expressed a zero tolerance policy for sexual discrimination.

Back pay claims filed by Marlins stadium construction workers

Summer is approaching, and with it comes some of America's favorite activities, such as heading to the local ballpark to eat hot dogs and cheer on the home team. When baseball aficionados enter a new ballpark, they generally admire the stadium on their way to finding their seats in the crowd. Most people do not think twice about the laborers who built the stadium from the ground up. However, the workers who built Florida's new Marlins stadium are not happy about the fact that they had to file construction litigation to recover sums they say were not properly paid.

Some of the construction workers involved in the dispute argue that despite working specialized jobs, they were paid smaller sums because they were classified only as general laborers. Others claim that they worked for hours that were never paid. Certain workers say that they were fired after they brought the shortcomings to the attention of county officials, and others assert they were not compensated for overtime hours. In an effort to recover outstanding sums, construction crews have filed claims against the subcontractor and contractor on the Marlins stadium project.

Latin Americans develop Miami commercial real estate

Miami is a city known for its multicultural influences. It is common to encounter a Latin American vibe in all walks of Miami life, from its new and hip restaurants to its art galleries, music, and fashion. Now, the newest Latino influence is found in the purchase and development of commercial real estate. Wealthy individuals and companies headquartered south of the border have been snapping up properties in the Miami area at unprecedented rates for redevelopment and sale.

Once a commercial building has been developed, individual Latino buyers are anxious to purchase units, often with a large percentage of cash up front, which is the custom in countries such as Argentina. Latino companies are also supporting the developers; for instance, HBO Latin America has its new offices located in a Coral Gables luxury office building developed by a Mexican company.

Florida internet company sued by supplier

The internet has become an integral part of business in modern day commerce. For most companies, it is convenient to sell parts and components to purchasers worldwide. But the convenience of on-line selling can come with a downside. In the past, vendors could cultivate a relationship with business owners by setting up meetings or sending out salespeople. Today, however, individuals who make purchases over the internet may have little personal connection to the seller. Consequently, purchasers may feel less duty to pay to their vendors on time when payment is not required up front. In such a case, an old-fashioned breach of contract claim may be the only solution for vendors who have not been paid.

A recent business contract dispute provides an example of an internet business being sued for its failure to pay a vendor. Specifically, an online business based in Florida, known as Infinite Labs, LLC purchased nutritional items and ingredients from a vendor, known as Phytogenx Inc. In the lawsuit, Phytogenx alleges that it delivered the products over a period of seven months, but Infinite Labs has failed to pay invoices totaling $369,631.

Florida developer is subject of construction litigation

When a new subdivision is built by a developer, home purchasers envision finished houses, green lawns and sparkling new swimming pools. Contractors, subcontractors, and material providers are always glad to have the work that a new development brings. Unfortunately, for some new homeowners and contractors north of Vero Beach, their expectation has turned into disappointment. Half built homes, empty lots, and unfinished projects litter the new development. The developer's money woes and legal troubles make it unclear when, or if, the subdivision will ever be completed. To date, substantial construction litigation has been filed by contractors, subcontractors and home buyers.

In 2010, the developer purchased 51 lots in the Eagle Trace subdivision, and work on the development began to take place. However, since then, construction has been slow, and only 15 homes have been completed through final inspection. Although some homeowners have no complaint against the developer, extensive civil litigation has been filed by angry parties.

Contract disputes could cost Office Depot in Florida

Contract disputes are common whenever people or companies enter into business agreements. This is true whether the parties are individuals, small businesses, or national players.

When a successful business decides that it wants to relocate to a new city, it often asks local and state governments for tax breaks and other benefits. If the officials feel that the company will help the local economy, the parties sign a contract. For instance, the city, state or municipality might promise to provide the company with lower taxes and the company may agree to stay in the city and hire a certain number of employees. Even though both sides of a contract have good intentions, as time goes by, circumstances can change..

New EU laws could mean litigation for Google in future

For businesses that do business internationally it's important to know not only the domestic laws but those in other countries as well. This is perhaps one of the areas in business law where companies and businesses run into the most problems.

With regulations and policies changing on almost a daily basis, sometimes companies can find themselves in the middle of a legal situation without even realizing that they had done anything wrong. This is likely the situation Google is facing this month after being informed by European regulators that their privacy policy was in violation of new European Union's data protection laws.

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