Menu
  • Christopher Smart
  • 813.229.4142
  • Share this page
Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart

Shareholder

Overview

Chris Smart tries real estate, title insurance, and consumer finance cases. His clients are national title insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and real estate owners, developers, and investors.

For the last 16 years Chris has handled high-profile litigation involving title insurance coverage, closing protection letter claims, title agent defalcations, and insurance bad faith claims. He has tried lender liability, consumer protection, loan servicing, and mortgage foreclosure cases and defended real property developers.

His trials have also included litigation over condominium developments, restrictive covenants, easements, and Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act. In one recent example, Chris led a team defending a real estate developer in a five-day trial, securing our client’s right to develop and maintain a high-end condominium, hotel, and marina project, and decisively defeating the claims of two adjacent condominium associations.

As a complement to his substantial trial experience, Chris also has a comprehensive understanding of the real estate industry and title to real property, and has served as an expert on Florida real property law. Throughout his career, he has been a leader on the issues that matter to his clients and the real estate industry in Florida. He is the longtime chair of the Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar’s Title Issues and Standards Committee. This Committee reviews, revises, maintains, and promotes Florida’s Uniform Title Standards, an essential guide for real estate practitioners navigating difficult questions about marketability of title. In this role, he also works with the Committee and the Section to promote legislation necessary for or helpful to Florida’s real estate industry. Chris is a regular presenter at the bi-annual American Land Title Association’s Title Counsel Committee meetings, contributes articles to ALTA’s TitleNews, and has, for the last decade, presented the annual case law update to the Florida Land Title Association’s Claims Prevention, Avoidance Committee’s Annual Round Table.

Featured Insights

Experience

  • Carson v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 8:10-CV-2326 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 24, 2018). Order dismissing plaintiff’s TILA and RESPA claims with prejudice on finding of res judicata (both claim and issue preclusion). Read Order.
  • Nashagh v. Hillsborough Bd. Of County Commissioners, Case No. 2D16-5106 (per curiam affirmed). Affirming Order granting with prejudice motion to dismiss complaint seeking to block development of real property via injunctive and declaratory relief. Read Order.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Melendez, Case No. 2012-CA-006155 (Fla. 10th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Nov. 13, 2017). Uniform Final Judgment of Foreclosure entered after trial. Read Order.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Abner, Case No. 2013-CA-001207 (Fla. 12th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Sept. 7, 2017). Findings of fact and conclusions of law entered after bench trial and prior to a judgment of foreclosure being entered. Read Order.
  • The Jockey Club Condo. Apts., Inc., v. Apeiron Miami, LLC, Case No. 16-5957 CA 40 (Fla. 11th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. July 5, 2017). Final order granting developer’s motion for rehearing, removing tennis courts from easement area, and suspending remaining common area easement during developer’s maintenance, operation and development of its property. Read Order.
  • The Jockey Club Condo. Apts., Inc., v. Apeiron Miami, LLC, Case No. 16-5957 CA 40 (Fla. 11th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. May 26, 2017). Final order entered after a five-day bench trial ruling that recorded instruments relied on by plaintiffs to block our developer client from developing and even assuming maintenance of its own property are either barred by MRTA or do not preclude future development and do not preclude the developer from assuming maintenance. Read Order.
  • U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Adams, No. 2D15-4202, __ So. 3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA May 12, 2017) (reversing summary judgment and denial of motion for rehearing on appeal). Section 559.715 does not create a condition precedent to foreclosure action. Read Opinion.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Carson, Case No. 53-2008-CA-009216 (Fla. 10th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct., May 11, 2017). Final judgment in favor of lender on mortgage foreclosure and borrower’s TILA defenses after two day bench trial. Read order.
  • The Jockey Club Condo. Apts v. Apeiron Miami, LLC and Jockey Club III Assoc., Case No. 16-5957 CA 40 (Fla. 11th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. February 4, 2017). Order granting summary judgment based on MRTA and extinguishing a restrictive covenant entered into prior to root of title and belatedly recorded after root of title. Read Opinion. Order granting summary judgment on restrictive covenant recorded without specific legal description of property. Read Opinion. Order granting summary judgment on claim to easements by prescription. Read Opinion.
  • Swan Landing Development, LLC v. Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Case No. 2D15-210 (Fla. 2d DCA March 23, 2016). PCA affirming final judgment after trial denying plaintiff’s claims for reformation of a release based on alleged mutual mistake and for a declaration that the release does not apply to multi-million dollar claims asserted against our client. Read Opinion.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Hanzelka, Case No. 13-CA-02068 (Fla. 6th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Jan. 7, 2016). Order granting final summary judgment of foreclosure. Read Order
  • Schacher v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2D14-1001 (Fla. 2nd DCA Oct. 21, 2015). PCA affirmance of final judgment of foreclosure in appeal challenging lender’s standing based on a written assignment of the mortgage and all money due thereunder. Read Opinion
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Armstrong, Case No. 522013-CA-2378 (Fla. 6th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Sept. 4, 2015). Final judgment of foreclosure after trial. Read Order
  • Gillis v. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, Case No. 2:14-cv-418 (M.D. Fla. May 12, 2015). Order granting motions to dismiss FDCPA and RICO claims with prejudice. Read Order
  • AHF-Bay Fund, LLC v. City of Largo, Florida, Case No. 2D14-408 (Fla. 2nd DCA April 22, 2015). Florida’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 that the PILOT agreement is therefore void. Read Opinion
  • Chicago Title Ins. Co. v. One West Bank, F.S.B, et al., Case No. 10-CA-18323 (Fla. 9th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. April 10, 2015). Order granting Summary Judgment and Entering Final Judgment determining that a purported title insurance policy determined not to have been issued by the title insurance issuing agent is void. Read Order.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Armstrong, Case No. 13-CA-002662 (Fla. 6th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Jan. 9, 2015). Final judgment of foreclosure after trial. Read Order
  • Encore Bank, N.A. v. Yazdani, Case No. 12-CI-1811 (Fla. 16th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Nov. 17, 2014). Obtained a final judgment in favor of the client after three day bench trial concerning a release that barred an adversary’s multi-million dollar claims against the client. The Court denied the adversary’s efforts to reform the release based on allegations of a mutual mistake and also denied the adversary’s demand for a declaratory judgment determining that the release did not apply to those multi-million dollar claims asserted against the client. Read Order
  • Badia v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 13-cv-1837 (Fla. 20th Judicial Cir., Cir. Ct. Sept. 23, 2014) Order granting motion to dismiss, with prejudice, claims of an oral promise to provide a written loan commitment based on Florida’s banking statute of frauds. Read Order
  • Federal Deposit Ins Corp. v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co., Case No. 8:12-cv-2247 (M.D. Fla. March 28, 2013) Order granting motion for more definite statement. Read Order
  • Genevish v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 8:13-cv-402 (M.D. Fla. April 1, 2013) Order granting motion to dismiss FCRA, defamation, and negligence claims with prejudice. Read Order
  • HSBC Bank, USA, N.A., as Trustee for FBR Securitzation Trust 2005-3 v. Reynolds, Case No. 29-2008-CA-024413 (Circuit Court of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, Florida, January 16, 2013). Final judgment of foreclosure after trial. Read Order

Featured Insights

All Insights





























Recognition

  • Selected for inclusion in Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite (2017-2018)

Professional & Community Involvement

  • The Barney Masterson American Inn of Court (2017-Present)
    • Best Group Program Award (2017-2018)
  • American Land Title Association 
    • Member, Title Claims Committee (2011-present) 
    • Member, Real Property Records Committee (2015-present)
  • Florida Land Title Association (2007-present)
  • The Florida Bar, Real Property, Probate and Tax Law Section 
    • Title Issues & Standards Committee (2009-present) 
      • Chair (2012-present)
      • Vice-Chair (2009-2011)

Speaking Engagements

  • “Understanding Title Insurance” and “The 2016 ALTA Commitment,” at Title Law: A to Z, Tampa (June 4, 2018)
  • “Title Counsel Committee Meeting,” American Land Title Association, Spring Meeting, Nashville (April 10-11, 2018)
  • “Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2017-2018,” Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 5, 2018)
  • “How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2016 ALTA Commitment, and Why You Should Too,” Fidelity National Title Group in house CLE (March 1, 2018)
  • "Title Counsel Committee Meeting," American Land Title Association, Fall Meeting, Miami (October 8-9, 2017)
  • “Inside Counsel’s Advice: What we like from you and, more importantly, what we don’t,” Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 21, 2017)
  • “Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2016-2017,” Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 21, 2017)
  • “Title Counsel Committee Meeting,” American Land Title Association Spring Meeting, New Orleans (April 3-4, 2017)
  • "Professionalism for the Real Property Litigator: Everything You Need to Know, You Learned in Kindergarten," Florida Bar Real Property Webinar (November 2, 2016)
  • “Title Counsel Committee Meeting,” American Land Title Association Spring Meeting, Washington (May 16–17, 2016)
  • "Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2015-2016," Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 15, 2016)
  • “Banking Regulation Update,” Carlton Fields In-House Counsel Forum, Orlando, FL (March 2016)
  • "Title Counsel Committee Meeting," American Land Title Association Fall Meeting, Boston (October 3-7, 2015)
  • “Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2014-2015,”  Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 22, 2015)
  • Title Counsel Committee Meeting, American Land Title Association Fall Meeting, Seattle (October 13-14, 2014)
  • “Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2013-2014,” Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 23, 2014).
  • “Everything You Need to Know About Bad Faith (Sort of),” Fidelity National Title Group in house CLE (March 25, 2014)
  • “Annual Title Insurance Case Law Update: 2012-2013,” Florida Land Title Association Claims Roundtable Presentation (April 17, 2013)
  • “Residential Foreclosures in Florida – 2008-2013,” Stewart Title Claims College (January 15, 2013)

Credentials

Education
  • University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law (J.D., high honors, 2002)
  • The Johns Hopkins University (M.A., 1999)
  • University of Florida (M.A., 1994)
  • George Mason University (B.A., with distinction, 1991)
Bar Admissions
  • Florida
Languages
  • Spanish
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.