Please see my post, over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog, regarding a recent Florida Court decision which found part of Florida’s medical marijuana law to be, likely, unconstitutional.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

I’ve posted several times, here, here, here, and here regarding the dilemma a business owner faces when a customer enters the premises with a dog.  Is it a service dog, is it an emotional support animal (“ESA”), what are my obligations under the health code and my obligations to other customers, etc.?

Now comes news of a new service called dog parker which is providing climate controlled, web camera equipped metal boxes around New York that members can use to leave their dog in a safe environment for short periods of time (i.e. to run into the drug store or pick up take out).

What do you think of this idea?


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

I previously blogged on the standard for punitive damages in Florida.  To be entitled to an award of punitive damages, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s conduct rises to a high level of culpability.

But what if a statute authorizes the recovery of punitive damages?  Certain statutes, like Florida’s unauthorized publication of likeness and wiretapping statutes, specifically provide for an award of punitive damages to a successful plaintiff.  As a result, some plaintiffs have argued that the culpability standard does not apply to claims for punitive damages brought pursuant to these statutes.

The Fifth DCA has rejected this argument and held that a statute authorizing punitive damages should be read in connection with Florida’s punitive damages standard.  In a recent case, James v. Intelligent Software Solutions, Inc., the USDC for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a plaintiff’s claims brought pursuant to a statute that authorized punitive damages where the facts were insufficient to show the defendant’s conduct was willful, wanton, or malicious.

Thus, regardless of statutory authorization, punitive damages still may only be awarded where a defendant’s conduct satisfies the culpability standard.

I’ve posted before here on the Oregon wedding cake case (not to be confused with the Colorado wedding cake case that went to the Supreme Court).

Now comes recent news that the Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld a $135,000 fine against two bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, who refused to bake a cake for same sex couple Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer who were getting married.

Carson Whitehead, Assistant Attorney General with the Oregon Department of Justice, represented Bureau of Labor and Industries. He argued the case turns on two simple facts:

The Kleins refused to provide the exact same service for a same-sex couple that they would with a heterosexual couple, and the denial of services was based on sexual orientation.

Here in Palm Beach County, Florida, bakeries are similar required to serve same-sex couples as set forth in Palm Beach’s anti-discrimination law, which was expanded in 2015.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

In my November post, I discussed the basics regarding protection of your Florida Homestead from forced sale by creditors and alluded to exceptions to the rule.  Let’s discuss some of those exceptions as it relates to a bankruptcy filing.

If you have acquired an ownership interest in your Florida Homestead within 1,215 of the date you file for bankruptcy, your exemption is subject to a homestead exemption cap under section 522(p) of Title 11 (the “Bankruptcy Code”).  If you bought a house for the first time within the 1,215 day period, your Florida Homestead exemption is limited the amount of $160,375.00 for single debtors and $320,750.00 for married Debtors.  If you bought a new residence within the 1,215 day period, you may add any equity transferred to the previous residence to the exemption limit.  For instance, if you are a single Debtor, sold your home, and used $100,000.00 of equity from your old home to buy your new one, your allowed exemption would be $260,375.00.  As you can see, if you have more than the exemption limit in your Florida Homestead, it is important to consider and calculate the length of time you have owned your home before contemplating a bankruptcy filing.  In addition, if you have been chased by one or more creditora for several years prior to contemplating bankruptcy, you should consider what, if any, funds you have used to purchase the property, prepay your mortgage or improve the property.  Creditors may look to 522(o) of the Bankruptcy Code to attempt to recover those funds based on your intent to hinder, delay or defraud them.

Another risk to your Florida Homestead exemption is the dreaded “Ponzi Scheme”.  In a June, 2017 decision from the Middle District of Florida Bankruptcy Court, the Court awarded an equitable lien and constructive trust on the homestead of a Ponzi scheme investor’s Florida Homestead.  The Ponzi scheme investor, who had filed for bankruptcy and was not involved in or aware of the fraud, “passively received the fraudulent transfers” which he used to purchased the Florida Homestead.  The Court held that the Ponzi scheme investor’s lack of participation in the fraud was not determinative; the focus must be on the fraudulent nature of the funds and unjust enrichment.  The Ponzi scheme investor had been unjustly enriched by the receipt of the fraudulent transfers that he and his wife invested in their home.  Accordingly, the Court determined that an equitable lien and constructive trust should be imposed on the Florida Homestead to the extent the Ponzi scheme distributions were traceable into the Florida Homestead.   The take away – be wary of investment schemes (if it is too good to be true, it probably is) and be thoughtful about the source of funds you invest in your homestead.


  Heather L. Ries is an attorney with the Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Heather focuses her practice in matters related to bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial workout and foreclosure disputes, and commercial litigation. You can contact Heather at 561-804-4419 or hries@foxrothschild.com.

Please see my post, over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog, regarding Florida’s first bust in the medical marijuana industry.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Miami is know for fun, sun, beaches and is a top spot for people looking to vacation or get together with friends or family for reunions and parties.  As a result, Miami-Dade County has been one of the busiest areas for peer-to-peer short term rentals.   The more short term rentals in a neighborhood the more complaints from neighbors regarding noise, parking, trash and other concerns.

Back in April, Miami-Dade reached agreement with Air BnB to collect bed taxes on the short term rentals listed on their platform.

Following the deal on taxes, Miami-Dade has now imposed regulations on the short-term rental market.

The new requirements include the following:

  • Hosts must apply for a certificate of use, which includes a “minimal” application fee.  Applicants will have to provide contact information for the property owner (who is also liable for any violations under the ordinance) and the short-term rental host, as well as the platform where the vacation rental will be listed.
  • In their applications, hosts will also have to certify that they will be collecting and remitting local tourist and state taxes, have permission from the property owner to rent short-term, carry insurance coverage on the property and have a vacation rental license with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • Hosts will also have to acknowledge that the property owner is aware he or she risks losing a homestead exemption by renting short-term.
  • The certificate of use must be renewed annually and will be revoked, with few exceptions, if the property has three or more violations in the preceding 12 months.
  • If a host owns property within 2,500 feet from a school, the host will be required to ensure that a prospective guest is not a registered sexual offender or sexual predator.
  • Hosts must also maintain a register with the names and dates of all guests who stay at the home or apartment — including people invited to the property by the guests.  The maximum overnight occupancy at any short-term rental will not be permitted to exceed two people per room, plus two per property for a maximum of 12.  During the day, capacity is limited to 16 people.  This rule is designed to combat the problems with AirBnB “party houses” and other overcrowding problems.
  • Finally guests are expected to follow standard garbage procedures, noise restrictions (including no amplified sound outdoors), public nuisance laws and rules for pets, in coordination with the host. Guest parking is limited to two cars at a time on the property or on the street.  Again, violations are the responsibility of the property owner and can imperil the renewal of the certificate of use.
  • Fines for violations range from $100 for a first offense to $2,500 for a third offense within 24 months.  Five percent of all money collected from violations or fines will go into Miami-Dade’s Affordable Housing Trust.

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Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Your primary residence in Florida (“Homestead”) can be a very useful tool for protection of assets from creditors during your life, and after your death for the benefit or your spouse and heirs.

The Florida Constitution, Article X, Section 4 sets forth the applicable restrictions on forced sale and the devise of your Homestead.  If your Homestead is one-half acre or less within a municipality or 160 acres or less outside a municipality, the entire Homestead is generally protected from forced sale by someone that sues you and obtains a judgment.  This same protection from judgment creditors will also benefit your spouse and/or heirs who inherit your Homestead after you’re gone.

However, there are exceptions to every rule and your actions could unwittingly subject your Homestead to the claims of creditors.  Have I peaked your interest?  If so, you won’t want to miss my series of blog posts discussing Homestead issues in Florida.  Stay tuned!


  Heather L. Ries is an attorney with the Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Heather focuses her practice in matters related to bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial workout and foreclosure disputes, and commercial litigation. You can contact Heather at 561-804-4419 or hries@foxrothschild.com.

 

Please see my post, over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog, regarding continued delays in the roll-out of Florida’s medical marijuana program.

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Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Illustration of man receiving a bag of money from computer monitorIn a post on Fox’s Employment Discrimination Report blog, associate Justin Schwam in Morristown, NJ, briefly covers a recent $5 million settlement of gender and racial pay discrimination brought by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) against State Street Corporation. The settlement comes after a six-year investigation into the financial services firm’s compensation practices.

We invite you to read Justin’s commentary, as well as the corresponding Alert written by partner Ken Rosenberg in Morristown and Justin.