Ackerman has a comprehensive network of offices along the East Coast ranging from its focal point in the Southeast region, where it remains one of the dominant forces in the litigation market, to New York and the Northeast. The firm’s principal areas of practice include commercial, labor and employment, appellate, and securities litigation.
The firm’s Florida offices house many of its key litigators, including Tallahassee’s distinguished litigator Kathi Giddings who has been lead appellate lawyer working with Fort Lauderdale trial attorney Jonathan Robbins representing Florigrown, a local player and market-leader in the up-and-coming medical cannabis industry, against the Florida Department of Health and the Legislature. Giddings challenged the state’s efforts to subject all licensed medical marijuana businesses in the state to mandatory full vertical integration, which without the team’s lawsuit, would mean that each licensee is solely responsible for all aspects of the medical marijuana supply chain, from the time that it originates as a seed until the time it is sold or delivered to the patient, as well as the state’s imposition of a strict limit on the number of medical marijuana businesses operators in the state. This integration would effectively shut out new entrants. In July 2019, Giddings secured a victory at Florida’s First District Court of Appeal which issued a decision upholding all key aspects of a temporary injunction. The state requested a review of the decision by Florida’s Supreme Court and it has recently heard two oral arguments on the matter. Miami commercial litigator Michael Marsh recently secured a summary judgment win for Broken Sound Club at the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The country club originally sued a member for unpaid dues; however, the member filed counterclaims alleging that the client engaged in ultra vires acts when it changed its membership due structure and amended its Bylaws. Marsh obtained a summary judgment decision in the client’s favor on both the counterclaims and the claims regarding the member’s unpaid dues. The member filed an appeal, and the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision, agreeing that the client acted in good faith in amending the membership due structure and the club’s Bylaws. Jacksonville’s Christian George and Miami’s Brian Miller have been representing financial institutions. George defended South State Bank in a class action lawsuit filed by plaintiffs alleging that the financial institutions failed to properly pay agent fees under the Paycheck Protection Program and its implementing regulations. Miller obtained an early dismissal of claims against the client
The New York office expanded its bench with the addition of Craig Weiner who came from Robins Kaplan in February of this year. Weiner recently represented Agency Within LLC, Joseph Yakuel, and Get Things Done LLC in a matter regarding Andrew Gluck’s repurchase of minority interest in Agency Within. Prior to litigation, the parties contracted for a final and binding appraisal of the opposition’s shares, which was completed by an accounting firm. Gluck then challenged the appraisal in an arbitration that awarded him a higher appraisal of his shares. Weiner moved to vacate the arbitrator’s award as the original final and binding appraisal was contracted by an accounting firm. The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the client, agreeing that due to the specific appraisal clause, the arbitrator does not have jurisdiction when reconsidering or adjusting an appraisal. The arbitrator’s award was vacated in part and the matter is to be decided by an accounting firm pursuant to the agreement.
Hunton Andrews Kurth, the product of a recent merger between two prominent firms (the Southeast institution Hunton & Williams and the Texas-centric Andrews Kurth), with the combined entity bringing together each firm’s strengths in a complementary fashion and doubles down on its comprehensive coverage regionally. Clients cheer the firm’s “expertise in our area and consistent excellence in client service and communications exceeded expectations,” calling out the individual lawyers’ “thorough, responsive and concise work product,” and testifying that they are “always available”.
Hunton’s concentration of litigation talent in its Richmond office is particularly notable. Mike Shebelskie garners praise from well beyond Virginia and is noted nationally for his presence in high-stakes matters often containing an environmental element, an area in which Hunton & Williams was particularly well versed. Shebelskie has cases with Elbert Lin, another Richmond partner who has been particularly visible as of late. Lin argued for Maui County at the Supreme Court in a case exploring the parameters of the Clean Water Act, Lin triumphed in a favorable decision that was rendered in April 2020. “This is a milestone,” claims a peer. “It’s time to recognize Elbert Lin!” Another environmental litigator (and leader of the practice) based in the DC office, Deidre Duncan led a team that won a significant victory for Mosaic Fertilizer in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a suit challenging the federal authorizations and reviews issued for Mosaic’s South Pasture Extension mine under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA.)The underlying suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups, raised more than a dozen claims under NEPA, CWA and ESA. The Hunton team defeated those claims in the district court in November 2018, and the environmental groups appealed. In a comprehensive opinion, a divided panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and, in doing so, established important precedent governing the scope of NEPA reviews.
Kelly Sandill in the firm’s Houston office led an all-female firm team that scored a milestone win in a hotly contested lawsuit for the Houston Police Officers’ Union when, in May 2019 after months of litigation, a Harris County District Court Judge awarded summary judgment in the client’s favor by ruling that Proposition B, which was a City Charter Amendment passed by the voters that tied firefighter pay to police pay, was preempted by Texas state law and unconstitutional. The ruling follows a year’s worth of contentious debate surrounding Proposition B and the financial effect on the City of Houston and Houston police officers. In the Miami office, all-purpose commercial litigator Sam Danon continues to be viewed as “a force,” with one local peer elaborating, “Sam is very savvy – he’s a native Spanish speaker, which you need to be around here, but Sam is particularly good at using this to his advantage not only in litigation but for building business.”
The firm’s geographic footprint is not limited to the South. Partners in the firm’s Boston office Harry Manion and Martin Gaynor led a team that won a June 2019 jury verdict of more than $20 million against the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center over dredging related to construction of a marine terminal.
Full-service firm Akerman houses one of the largest labor and employment practices in Florida. Its seven Florida offices are spread throughout the state, especially major market locations like Miami, West Palm Beach, and Tampa. Eric Gordon serves as chair of the labor and employment practice from the West Palm Beach office. Gordon’s repertoire of recent cases includes two whistleblower lawsuits filed under the Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Act. One of these cases was resolved in June of 2020 with a successful motion for summary judgment in Broward County state court. Also in the West Palm Beach office, Arlene Kline recently represented a hospital in a multi-count complaint alleging harassment and disparate treatment based on nation of origin and race.
Tampa’s Zarra Elias along with fellow partner Karen Buesing led a wage-and-hour class action to a successful resolution. Last year, the pair handled a trade secrets case filed under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. In Fort Lauderdale, Debra Leder has been engaged in several actions, including a significant union dispute that went to the Sixth Circuit from the District Court of Kentucky.
The national labor and employment team of Hunton Andrews Kurth are active in employment, wage and hour, labor relations and public accessibility cases. Their expertise stems from routinely representing clients in class, collective, and mass actions, as well as in high-profile, high-risk matters in federal and state courts. In addition, practitioners at the firm are noted for serving as counsel for clients in hearings before enforcement agencies, mediations, and arbitrations.
Juan Enjamio serves as managing partner of the firm’s Miami hub. He is recognized for his work in discrimination and harassment lawsuits, wage and hour collective actions, ERISA litigation and enforcement of non-competition agreements. He is also active in international litigation, complex commercial litigation, and defense of class actions.