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Appellate Practice and Trial Support

Carlton Fields’ national appellate practice and trial support group includes lawyers who have briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, every U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and in the state courts of more than 30 states. Many lawyers in the group devote their practice exclusively to appellate work and handle appeals in cases tried by other firms, as well as our firm’s trial lawyers.

  • Extensive Appellate Practice – Carlton Fields handles the entire gamut of appellate matters, including civil, administrative, and criminal appeals for a wide range of businesses and individuals. We have been entrusted with bet-the-company appeals, as well as appeals on substantive issues important to the client or industry. We often submit amicus briefs as well. 
  • Pre-Trial Through Post-Judgment Trial Support – Our appellate practice goes beyond traditional appellate court work. We team with trial counsel (whether from our firm or another) to provide trial support, including preparing and arguing dispositive legal motions. Our appellate lawyers also participate in trials to help preserve the record for appeal. 
  • Nuanced Understanding and Sound Strategies – Through our extensive experience before appellate courts, we have developed a command of procedural rules and requirements, and appellate strategies and techniques that allow us to avoid practice traps on appeal. We watch trends and changes in the law, and write and speak on them regularly. 
  • Recognized Distinction – We receive frequent accolades for practice area excellence and, most recently, earned a top-tier ranking for appellate practice in Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms,” 2017. Our appellate lawyers are often recognized in Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review ratings. 
  • Our People – Carlton Fields' national appellate practice and trial support group offers great depth tailored to our clients' varying needs. Many members of the group exclusively handle appeals and provide trial support across a broad range of subject areas and jurisdictions. Others are plugged deeply into select industries and focus their appellate practice more specifically on related disputes. Still others focus on particular types of litigation with special issues, such as class actions.

    Some of our lawyers have substantial trial experience and bring that perspective to bear in appeals that arise from cases tried to judgment. Some are experienced in the complexities of criminal appeals as well as civil appeals. Some are former judges or appellate judicial clerks with a special understanding of the customs and preferences of appellate judges, especially those in their former jurisdictions.

    Whatever your discrete needs, Carlton Fields' appellate lawyers can meet them. 

Carlton Fields Appellate Team

Appellate practice group members in attendance at
Carlton Fields’ 2017 annual meeting. 

Representative Matters

  • Holmes Reg’l Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. SC15-1555, ___ So. 3d ____, 2017 WL 2981863 (Fla. July 13, 2017). The Florida Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal and ruled in our client’s favor by holding that an initial tortfeasor which has had judgment for its negligence entered against it – but has not fully satisfied that judgment – is not entitled to seek equitable subrogation from a subsequent tortfeasor, such as an allegedly negligent treating physician.
  • McDaniel v. Fifth Third Bank, No. 2D15-464, ___ So. 3d ___ (Fla. 5th DCA June 7, 2016). Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action alleging unlawful check cashing fees.  The Fifth District affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the claims were federally preempted, as well as its rulng that section 655.85, Florida Statutes, does not provide a private cause of action.
  • PNC Bank , Nat’l Assoc. v. Smith, et al., No. S15Q1445, ___ Ga. ____ (Ga. Feb. 22, 2016). The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously held that guarantors could expressly waive protections afforded to them by Georgia’s anti-deficiency statute. In response to two questions certified by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the court found that compliance with Georgia’s anti-deficiency statute requiring confirmation of a non-judicial foreclosure sale constituted a condition precedent to a lender’s pursuit of a deficiency action to recover from guarantors the remaining balance owed on a loan following foreclosure of collateral property. But, the court further held that guarantors could contractually waive such condition precedent, thereby allowing a lender to pursue a deficiency directly from guarantors, the lack of confirmation of such sale notwithstanding.
  • Charlotte County v. Andress Family Florida, LP, et al., No. 2D14-4249, ___ So. 3d ___ (Fla. 2d DCA Feb. 3, 2016). Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a final judgment for plaintiffs in a multimillion-dollar inverse condemnation action. The court affirmed the finding that Charlotte County, through its actions, inactions, and regulations, effected a compensable temporary taking of private property in violation of the United States and Florida constitutions.
  • Hoefling v. City of Miami, No. 14-12482, 2016 WL 285358 (11th Cir. Jan. 25, 2016). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal of all of plaintiffs’ claims except his substantive due process claim. Plaintiff asserted that the city illegally seized and destroyed his sailboat without justification or notice. The court held, among other things, that the trial court incorrectly 1) applied a heightened pleading standard to plaintiff, 2) considered reports attached to the first amended complaint but omitted from the second, 3) deemed the procedural due process claim insufficient as to municipal liability, and 4) concluded that the seizing officers were entitled to qualified immunity based on the improperly considered reports.
  • Crosby Valve, LLC v. Dep't of Ins., No. 78 C.D. 2015, 2016 WL 164094 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Jan. 14, 2016). The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the orders of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, which denied policyholder objectors’ motions to intervene in the department’s administrative review proceeding involving a “Form A” transaction to transfer ownership of several insurance companies, and which protected the confidential financial and business information of the parties to the transaction. The court held that the insurance department did not violate the policyholder objectors’ due process rights in the proceeding, and dismissed, for lack of standing, the policyholder objectors’ attempted appeal from the department’s order approving the transaction.
  • Dello Russo v. Fifth Third Bank, No. 15-13300, 2015 WL 9300650 (11th Cir. Dec. 22, 2015). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal with prejudice of a complaint alleging a multimillion dollar claim. The complaint alleged a lender committed fraud and was unjustly enriched in conjunction with the plaintiff’s personal guaranty of corporate promissory notes. The district court applied Illinois law to dismiss the complaint, finding the parties agreed to the application of Illinois law in the guaranty, even though the guarantor argued his claims were “extra contractual.” The Eleventh Circuit agreed the choice-of-law contract provision applied and that dismissal was required under Illinois law.
  • Allstate Ins. Co. v. Theodotou, 171 So. 3d 163 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). Represented medical care providers in a case certifying a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court on the application of the equitable subrogation doctrine, where an unsatisfied judgment had been entered against the initial tortfeasor. The Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction, and review is pending.
  • Rothstein v. Balboa Ins. Co., 794 F.3d 256 (2d Cir. 2015). The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss on the basis of the “filed rate doctrine.” The court ruled that a claim challenging a regulated-approved rate is subject to the doctrine regardless of whether the rate passes through an intermediary. Finding that the plaintiffs’ claims would undermine the rate-making authority of the state insurance regulators who approved the rate, the court remanded for dismissal.
  • Wachovia Mtg. Corp. v. Posti, 166 So. 3d 944 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal held the trial court lacked jurisdiction to award the requested relief because it was not requested in the pleadings or tried by consent.
  • Wells Fargo N.A. v. Michaels, 166 So. 3d 226 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of a motion to vacate the torder dismissing the case because the trial court failed to enter or serve the order or otherwise give notice to the parties.
  • Bond Safeguard Ins. Co. v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 14-15233, 2015 WL 5781002 (11th Cir. Oct. 5, 2015). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the application of a directors & officers liability policy’s “arising out of” contract liability exclusion to a land development-related business dispute between the developer and its surety, which was pleaded solely in tort. The court held that a clear nexus existed between the alleged torts and that the underlying development contracts, that the tort claim was inextricably intertwined with circumstances surrounding the development contracts, and that the resolution of the tort claim required consideration of the losses and duties under the development contract.
  • Matheson v. Miami-Dade County, No. 3D14-405, 2015 WL 3390177 (Fla. 3d DCA May 27, 2015). Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal held a constitutional referendum clearly and unambiguously explained to voters its purpose, which was to find out whether two-thirds of those voters supported the expansion of a tennis center that hosts the Miami Open Tennis Tournament and modification and extension of the county’s agreements with the operator of the facility.
  • Bank of Am., Nat’l Ass'n v. Asbury, 165 So. 3d 808 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015). Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed a final judgment finding plaintiff did not comply with a condition precedent to a foreclosure action and remanded. On appeal, plaintiff argued and the court agreed that the trial court improperly considered whether a default notice had been delivered because defendant did not raise the issue in her answer or as an affirmative defense.
  • AHF-Bay Fund, LLC v. City of Largo, 169 So. 3d 133 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015), review pending, SC15-1201Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed an order granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Largo based on a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement. The court ruled that the payments called for by the PILOT agreement and sought to be enforced by the city against a not-for-profit, tax-exempt entity are the equivalent of ad valorem taxes that would otherwise be due but for the statutory tax exemption and, as a result, the city’s PILOT agreement violates article VII, § 9(a) of the Florida Constitution (providing that municipalities shall impose taxes only as authorized by law) and the public policy of promoting affordable housing. The court ruled the PILOT agreement was therefore void. Read Opinion.
  • Merrimon v. UNUM life Ins. Co. of Am., 758 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2014). The First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the insurer’s use of retained asset accounts did not constitute self-dealing under ERISA section 406(b), but reversed as to the trial court’s ruling that the insurer breached a duty of loyalty to the plaintiff class under ERISA section 406(a) through the use of those accounts.
  • Am. Bus.USA Corp. v. Dep’t of Rev., 151 So. 3d 67 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014), review pending, SC14-2404. The Fourth District Court of Appeal struck down a tax assessed by the Florida Department of Revenue as a violation of the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The Florida Department of Revenue collected sales tax from a Florida florist for orders placed by out-of-state customers. These orders were relayed to out-of-state florists, and these out-of-state florists would actually fill the orders and deliver the flowers. Despite an administrative regulation directly on point, the Fourth District overturned the tax and determined that Florida had no “substantial nexus” to such transactions. Because the flowers never entered Florida and did not have any type of connection to Florida, the State of Florida could not constitutionally tax these transactions. The Fourth District also upheld a tax assessed on calling-card sales based on a record-keeping issue.
  • McDaniel v. Fifth Third Bank, 588 F. App'x 729 (11th Cir. 2014). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an order remanding a putative class action to Florida state court. The district court ruled that certain of the claims asserted were legally insufficient and, thus, the damages claimed thereunder did not satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), Pub. L. No. 109–2119, Stat. 4. The Eleventh Circuit held that when determining subject matter jurisdiction, the issue is not the plaintiff’s probable success on the merits.
  • In re Adoption of D.P.P., 158 So. 3d 633 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014). The Fifth District Court of Appeal reinstated a judgment of adoption and reversed the order that vacated that judgment of adoption on the basis that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider a petition for adoption filed by unmarried women.
  • Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. v. Dolgencorp, LLC, 746 F.3d 1008 (11th Cir. 2014). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court order that refused to grant full injunctive relief for violations of real-property restrictive covenants running with the land.
  • General Electric Capital Corp. v. Shattuck, 132 So. 3d 908 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). The Second District Court of Appeal reversed a $1.1 billion judgment, holding that the court erroneously added non-party entities to that judgment.
  • Bloch v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 755 F. 3d 886 (11th Cir. 2014).  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a final defense summary judgment addressing the effect of a “trial” loan modification, application of the Florida Bank Statute of Frauds, and the proof needed to maintain promissory estoppel and negligence claims.
  • Cohen v. Am. Sec. Ins. Co., 735 F.3d 601 (7th Cir. 2013). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a class action complaint. A homeowner failed to purchase homeowner’s insurance, and pursuant to disclosures in the loan agreement, the lender secured insurance and passed the cost to the homeowner. The homeowner sued under a variety of statutory and common law claims, most of which sounded in fraud or tort, and argued that the lender-placed insurance was too expensive and included a “kickback” to the lender’s insurance-agency affiliate. Although the district court dismissed based on federal preemption and the filed-rate doctrine, the Seventh Circuit affirmed because the complaint and proffered amendments thereto failed to state a viable claim for relief. The homeowner was contractually obligated to maintain property insurance and the consequences for failing that obligation had been clearly disclosed.
  • London v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 340 F.3d 1246, 1248 (11th Cir. 2003). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decertified a class in a suit alleging that appellants violated Florida laws affecting credit life insurance, finding the class representative failed to meet Rule 23(a)(4)'s adequate representation prerequisite because of the significant personal and financial ties between the class representative and class counsel, which cast doubt on the appellee’s ability to place the interest of the class above those of class counsel.

View additional representative appellate matters