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New Miami Blog

Insights and Commentary on the Gateway City's Expanding Global Significance

Ruling Highlights Court’s Inclination Toward Arbitration

You have been sued in Florida state court. Your agreement with the plaintiff contains an arbitration provision that may apply to the particular type of claim that plaintiff has brought against you. You may want to ask the court to compel arbitration, but you are concerned that by doing so you may be waiving certain challenges to the lawsuit if the court declines to compel arbitration. On the other hand, by raising those challenges first, you worry about the risk of waiving your right to compel arbitration.

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Canada’s P3 Success

Guest blog post written by Marc-André Hawkes, Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian Consulate General in Miami.

Thinking of Canada conjures up a variety of images. Some will picture soaring mountains and crystal clear lakes surrounded by snow; others will focus on the world’s strongest banking sector and low corporate tax rates; while others still may have eyes only for the best national hockey team in the world. What may not immediately come to mind is the robust experience Canada has developed in the realm of Public Private Partnerships (P3s) over the last two decades.

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New Miami Breakfast Insights

Our New Miami Breakfast, Miami: The Next Entrepreneurial Frontier,”  was heavily attended by nearly 200 of Miami’s business community members. Our co-moderators, Bilzin Sumberg Partners Javier Aviño and Melissa Pallett-Vasquez, touched on Miami’s initiatives to attract both entrepreneurs and investors, before our esteemed panelists dove in.

Matt Haggman, Miami Program Director of The Knight Foundation, discussed some of the challenges and struggles facing Miami on its way to becoming a global hub for entrepreneurship, and explained the Knight Foundation’s plan to make Miami more of a place where ideas are built.

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Court Blocks Developers’ Ploy to Avoid Additional Payments

We are often asked when representing a client in defense of a claim whether the client could avoid the liability asserted by the claimant by potentially buying the cause of action out from under the claimant. The most common circumstance is when the plaintiff has an adverse uncollected judgment or, perhaps, owes money under a promissory note in default.  Prior decisional law has been sparse, particularly in Florida. Until now.

In a case decided last week, the Third District Court of Appeal foiled developers’ plan to strategically foreclose its own mortgage in order to wipe out a construction lien recorded against the same property by the general contractor.  In CDC Builders, Inc. v. Biltmore-Sevilla Debt Investors, LLC, et al. No. 3D13-603, 2014 WL 4628515 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014), the Court reversed the lower court’s ruling which had permitted a related entity to purchase the developers’ own construction loan from the construction lender, and thereafter foreclose the loan for the central purpose of wiping out a contractor’s construction lien on the property.

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Condo Developers Getting Relief From Washington

In an uncharacteristic bipartisan style, the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 2600 on September 26, 2013, and almost a year later, on September 19, 2014, the Senate followed by enacting S.2101.  These identical bills exempt developers of condominiums from compliance with the filing requirements of the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, commonly referred to as ILSA.  Both bills passed their respective chambers with a unanimous vote in favor. The legislation was signed by the President on September 26, 2014.

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Citrix Acquires South Florida Startup

South Florida’s tech startups are causing a commotion in the industry — and tech giants are taking notice.  In hopes of enhancing its mobile workplace delivery platform, software behemoth Citrix Systems announced last week that it had acquired Virtu.al, a four-month-old IT security startup in Delray Beach, Florida, for an undisclosed amount.

Citrix’s latest acquisition gets them not just the technology, but also Virtu.al’s personnel. Virtu.al’s technology team, including CEO Chris Wade, are expected to join the Citrix team and help transform Citrix’s mobile application infrastructure to simplify IT security management. Continue Reading

Mounting Legal Challenges to Medical Marijuana Regulations

Last week the Department of Health received legal challenges from nurseries Costa Farms and Plants of Ruskin Inc., and the Florida Medical Cannabis Association, to its proposed rule for selecting the nurseries that will receive the licenses for growing and selling medical marijuana pursuant to the state’s newly enacted Charlotte’s Web law, called the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. The new state law, named after a Colorado girl who has benefitted from using the drug for her epileptic seizures, permits a strain of cannabis that is low in euphoria-inducing THC that can be used by patients, including children, suffering from epilepsy and other diseases.

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Growing Trend: Private Investment in Infrastructure and Transportation

As P3 Bulletin, the New York Times and Richard Cavallaro, the new CEO of  international construction company Skanska’s US operations, have recently stated, the increase in private investment and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs or P3s) bodes well for the plans to develop and implement much needed infrastructure and transportation upgrades around the United States. As federal funds remain limited and difficult to secure, private investment may not only be the most efficient way to develop major infrastructure projects, but also the only economically feasible way.

The New York Times highlighted that the federal government has invested $11 billion since 2009 to develop high-speed rail within the US. Given the 25 year timeline, experts have expressed that the current pace of spending and development of high-speed rail must be accelerated. Among the issues that must be addressed is the failing infrastructure of tracks and bridges on which the new high-speed trains would need to run. Private investment to fund such infrastructure projects has been identified by the U.S. Department of Treasury as one means to augment the government’s investment. Private investors include philanthropic organizations such as the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, who recently announced a joint investment of over $1 million to support innovative public-private partnerships for infrastructure. P3s are an effective and economical way to use private investment and enable public and private collaboration to bridge funding gaps and make infrastructure modernization plans possible.

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Florida Courts and Forum Selection Clauses

You may be surprised to find out that, unlike its sunny beaches and popular resorts, Florida courts may not be hospitable to hearing your clients’ claims and you may not have a sufficient basis to defeat a jurisdictional objection lodged by the adverse party — even where the adverse party agreed to designate Miami as the appropriate forum, waived its jurisdictional objections and agreed to designate Florida law as applicable.

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GIS Technology Supports Port Efficiency and Expansion

Known as the Cargo Gateway to the Americas and currently home to 13 cruise lines, Port Miami is a vital economic anchor of Miami -Dade County. The Port employs more than 200,000 in the South Florida region and contributes $27 billion annually to the local economy. While more than 4 million cruise passengers traveled through the Port in 2013, cargo traffic growth continued to climb­—it is up 13 percent since 2009. Strong growth is projected for the future through infrastructure improvements such as the Deep Dredge, the Tunnel, and the re-introduction of on-port rail service through a partnership with the Florida East Coast Railway. This expansion is a boon to the economy but coordinating such volumes of cargo traffic and cruise passengers presents a clear challenge to port operators.

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