I was the appellate lawyer on a case in which the appeals court found no abuse of discrtion in the trial court's having stricken the pleadings of Diane Taylor, a realtor who had filed a multi-count, multi-defendant action involving several real estate transctions and who my wife/law partner, Karen Coolman Amlong, had shown the trial court that (in the language of the opinion):
"1) She forged a warranty deed purporting to transfer a condominium unit that was the subject of the litigation from appellee Ronald N. Dubner, Trustee, to herself. She cut and pasted Dubner's signature on the deed. She falsified the signatures of the "witnesses" to Dubner's signature. She cut and pasted an Illinois notary seal and signature on the document. She falsified the notary's statement that Dubner had presented his Florida driver's license to the notary, was sworn, and signed the document. She falsified grantee information, the sale price, and the grantee phone number on the deed. She recorded the deed in the public records.
"2) Taylor executed a fraudulent form DR-219 from the Florida Department of Revenue indicating that Dubner had transferred the property to her for a price of $100.00.
"3) Taylor fabricated and recorded a fraudulent Form UCC-1 financing statement which purported to give 51% ownership of appellee Sera Martell Realty, Inc. to a company owned by Taylor. The financing statement secured a claimed debt of $510,000, which the trial court found was close to the amount Taylor sought in a conversion count of her lawsuit. Taylor conceded that her intent in filing the document 'was to cloud the title of Sera Martell Realty, Inc., so that somehow [she] could either secure or get paid $510,000.'
"4) Taylor did not 'know how [her] signature got affixed' to documents relating to a condominium unit that she denied purchasing. However, when confronted with the originals, she was forced to concede that she had signed the documents.
"5) Taylor claimed that a quitclaim deed purporting to transfer a condominium unit from her to Sera Martell had been fabricated and that she was the rightful owner of the unit. The trial judge found that Taylor had signed the original of the deed that Taylor claimed was a fabrication."
The appeal was a breeze, the real heavy lifting having been done in the trial court.
Selim v. Pan American Airways Corp.
Dec 08, 2004
Reversed summary judgment based ALPA arbitration
Shahir Selim was an Egyptian Arab who worked as a first officer for Pan American Airways Corp. He pursued several complaints about unfair treatment by Pan Am through both the grievance procedure under the collective bargaining agreement between Pan Am and the Airline Pilots Association and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
Selim largely prevailed on the grievances, and pursued additional remedies in state court pursuant to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 and the Florida Whistleblower's Act for discrimination and retaliation. The trial court granted a motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment based on Pan Am's claims of res judicata,collateral estoppel and preemption by the Railway Labor Act.
The appeals court rejected those claims, held that arbitration held pursuant to the ALPA collective bargaiing agreement did not estop Selim and that the Railway Labor Act did not preempt his claims under Florida's discrimination and retaliation statutes.
The appeals court reversed the trial court and remanded the action for trial, which is still pending.
Stockett v. Tolin
Employment & Labor
Apr 24, 1992
Plaintiff was awarded $1,308,284 in damages.
Michelle Stockett sued her former employers, a movie studio and production companies, and the individual who controlled them for sexual harassment, constructive discharge, wage and hour violations and several state-law torts. After a judge trial, the Court found that Stockett had established quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile environment sexual harassment and constructive discharge, as well as battery, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false improsonment under Florida law and awarded her $1,308,284 in damages and front pay, including $1,000,000 in punitive damages against the harasser/owner, Frank Tolin.
Zamora v. Florida Atlantic Board of Trustees
Employment & Labor
Jan 04, 2008
Jury verdict for plaintiff. $200,000 FCRA cap.
Plaintiff, a computer and systems administrator at Florida Atlantic University, sued his former employer for age discrimination, national origin discrimination and retaliation, claiming he was paid less and was denied promotions and other opportunities that younger, non-Hispanic colleagues, and those who had not complained of discrimination, were able to take advantage of. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff on the age and retaliation claims and awarded him $120,596, which was reduced by the trial court to $86,297. The trial court awarded plaintiff's attorneys a total of $160,003 as attorney fees, $1,895.74 in additional litigation expenses and $20,064.54 as recoverable costs.
On appeal, plaintiff challenged the $100,000 "cap" on recovery (which includes damages, costs, litigation expenses and attorneys' fees) that some courts had held applies to Florida Civil Rights Act cases. The appeals court upheld the cap, but ruled that plaintiff could recover $100,000 on his discrimination claim and another $100,000 for his retaliation claim, for a total of $200,000.
In Re: Perlman
Jan 01, 1989
Lesbian partner of birth mother awarded custody.
Two women, life partners, decided to have a child through artificial insemination. After the child was born, the birth mother became ill and ultimately died. My client, "Neenie," had been the child's primary caretaker. After the birth mother's death, the child's maternal grandparents took custody of the child. At first, the Neenie had visitation, but within a few months, the grandparents, who had never approved of their daughter and Neenie's lifestyle or relationship, adopted the child. As her legal parents, they had the right to decide who the child could see and who she couldn't --- and they decided she no longer could see Neenie.
After I was hired, we attached the adoption on procedural and constitutional grounds. A guardian was appointed who reported that the child's best interest were served by being returned to Neenie, her psychological parent. The trial court set aside the adoption and gave Neenie full costody of the little girl.
This case was made into a television movie, "What Makes a Family," starring Whoopi Goldberg as me, and Brooke Shield as my client. To read about the movie, go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0251474/usercomments.