Commercial disputes take many shapes, and we handle a variety of issues that arise in this area.
Breach of contract
A contract sets forth the terms of a business transaction. In Florida, an oral or written contract is formed upon offer, acceptance, and consideration. If a party fails to abide by its responsibilities under a valid contract, that party may be liable for damages. We prosecute and defend a range of breach of contract matters, from employee relations to vendor disputes to highly complex issues.
Civil theft can be a useful mechanism to obtain compensation for stolen funds or other types of property. We litigate civil theft matters that arise within many different industries.
Florida’s civil theft statute, Section 772.11(1), Florida Statutes (2013), provides that:
Any person who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been injured in any fashion by reason of any violation of the provisions of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 825.103(1) has a cause of action for threefold the actual damages sustained and, in any such action, is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $200, and reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts.
The elements of theft under Section 812.014, Florida Statutes (2013) are knowingly obtaining or using or endeavoring to obtain or to use, the property of another with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that person of his or her right to the property or a benefit from the property, or appropriate the property to the defendant’s own use or to the use of a person not entitled to the use of the property.
Fraud is as old as commerce itself, and unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in Miami. Mamone Villalon is well-versed in assisting clients who have been defrauded in a variety of contexts.
In Florida, a common law claim for fraud generally requires showing that: (i) a defendant made a false statement concerning a material fact, (ii) the statement was known by defendant to be false when made, (iii) with intent that another would rely on it, (iv) it was relied on and (v) was the legal cause of damages.
In addition to the common law cause of action, various statutory regimes provide a basis for recovery against fraud, such as Florida’s Civil Theft Statute and Florida’s Deceptive and Florida’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”), Section 501.201 et. seq., Florida Statutes. FDUTPA was implemented “to protect the consuming public and legitimate business enterprises from those who engage in unfair methods of competition, or unconscionable, deceptive, or unfair acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” Section 501.202, Florida Statutes. A claim for damages under FDUTPA has three elements: (1) a deceptive act or unfair practice; (2) causation; and (3) actual damages. TLO S. Farms, Inc. v. Heartland Farms, Inc., No. 2D18-1639, 2019 WL 4551385, at *2 (Fla. 2d DCA Sept. 20, 2019). Businesses and consumers can avail themselves of FDUTPA, which provides for damages and the recovery of reasonable attorney fees and costs.
Disputes between partners and shareholders often arise in the course of business. Sometimes these disputes must be litigated.
Florida affords many different types of legal protection and causes of action for aggrieved members of a business. Depending on the type of entity and specific facts, claims may be brought by the aggrieved party directly or on behalf of the business itself. Claims may be raised concerning breaches of fiduciary duty, misdeeds such as misappropriation or embezzlement and disputes on valuation and dissolution. We represent clients in litigation concerning these and related issues.
Trade Secret and Data Theft
Trade secrets and proprietary data are the lifeblood of business. Mamone Villalon assists clients both in preventing and remedying the theft of this vitally important information.
Both the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (the “DTSA”) and Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (the “FUTSA”) authorize a court to grant an injunction to prevent “actual” or “threatened” misappropriation of a “trade secret.” 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b)(3)(A)(i); Section 688.003(1), Florida Statutes. The scope of what constitutes a trade secret under DTSA and FUTSA is broad, but both generally define a “trade secret” as (1) any type of information, (2) that derives economic value from being secret, and (3) that is kept secret. 18 U.S.C. 1839; Section 688.002(4).
Attempts to procure valuable trade secrets may come from competitors or from within. In addition to common law remedies, employers in Florida may also look to civil relief under the Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act (“CADRA”), Section 668.801, Florida Statutes, which provides for recovery against any person who “knowingly and with intent to cause harm or loss: (1) Obtains information from a protected computer without authorization and, as a result, causes harm or loss; (2) Causes the transmission of a program, code, or command to a protected computer without authorization and, as a result of the transmission, causes harm or loss; or (3) Traffics in any technological access barrier through which access to a protected computer may be obtained without authorization.” Section 688.803.
We regularly advise on and litigate matters where our clients encounter misappropriation of their valuable business information.
Copyright and Trademark Enforcement
Copyrights and trademarks are important property rights that are necessary for a business to protect.
Copyrights protect the unique, fixed content that a business or individual creates, such as a song, movie, book or other work of authorship.
Trademarks protect a business’s “brand name” or the unique identifiers that help a customer associate a particular set of goods or services with a particular company. This might include a logo, slogan or business name.
When copyright or trademark infringement occurs, it threatens a business’s very livelihood–especially if that infringement occurs on a mass scale. Mamone Villalon understands this problem and helps its clients vigorously litigate these issues.
Defamation and Internet-Related Issues
Defamation (the general term for libel or slander) involves a false statement, published to a third party, that harms one’s reputation. This includes false, harmful statements made online. In today’s world where social media posts and online reviews exist indefinitely on the Internet, defamation and its harms continue to proliferate. These false statements can have real implications on a person or business, including the loss of clients or major deals.
Mamone Villalon assists clients contending not only digital defamation but other Internet-related issues, such as cyberharassment, cyberstalking and revenge pornography.
Obtaining a judgment is a requisite but often not the final stage in a case. When a party refuses to satisfy a judgment, collection on an executable property must ensue. Mamone Villalon handles post-judgment asset location and execution. This includes the transfer of assets for less than fair value by litigants facing an impending claim or judgment.