Recent Decisions

Crabtree, Auslander & Tackenberg

Recent Decisions

Crabtree, Auslander & Tackenberg handles all types of civil appeals, ranging from commercial matters to complex family-law disputes. Below is a list of our firm’s recent successes in the appellate arena. Given the personal nature of some of our firm’s work, we have removed our client’s identifying information to protect their privacy.

Cavalieri v. Avior Airlines C.A., 25 F.4th 843 (11th Cir. 2022)

In a putative class action filed on behalf of thousands of consumers who purchased airfare from a South American airline, the firm obtained a reversal from an order dismissing the case on federal preemption grounds. Though the district court had dismissed the putative class’ case on the basis that their request for damages was preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act, the firm convinced the appellate court that the class sought merely to enforce the parties’ private agreements regarding the cost of passage and, thus, fell outside the scope of ADA preemption, as delineated by the United States Supreme Court.

Malek v. Malek, 346 So. 3d 179 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022)

In an appeal stemming from disputed ownership of a British Virgin Islands corporation that holds Florida real estate worth millions of dollars, the firm obtained reversal of an order compelling arbitration. Before the appeal, the BVI corporation had successfully intervened in the trial court—contending that an arbitration provision in its articles controlled the procedure for deciding who owns its shares. In a victory for the firm’s client, the appellate court held that the corporation had no interest in who owns it and, thus, no dispute with any shareholder over governance of the entity.

Olympus Ins. Co. v. Miller, Case No. 4D21-1903

The firm recently prevailed for the insured in a residential property insurance appeal when the insurer voluntarily dismissed its appeal, after full briefing and the scheduling of oral argument. The appeal involved policy interpretation—specifically the insurer’s contention that an endorsement to the policy authorized it to pay for all loss, including the insured’s claim for additional living expense—from the mold coverage protection of the policy, thereby exhausting policy limits below the insured’s damages that were recovered at trial.

CFLB Partnership, LLC v. Diamond Blue International, Inc., 352 So. 3d 357 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022)

In an appeal arising from complex real-estate development litigation, the firm obtained a reversal of an order entering a substantial unjust-enrichment money judgment against the firm’s client. Through an opinion that addressed both the scope of equitable unjust-enrichment relief under Florida law and the limitations of such relief in the face of an LLC’s separate corporate existence, the firm was able to have the judgment against its client reversed.

Confidential Family Law Appeal (Fla. 4th DCA 2021)

In an appeal arising from dissolution of marriage proceedings, the firm was able to obtain a reversal of an order improperly distributing the parties’ assets. The firm obtained this reversal by convincing the appellate court that the trial court had not considered the factors necessary to distribute the parties’ assets and, accordingly, that further litigation in the trial court was necessary under Florida law.

Bank of America, N.A. v. Colombo, 329 So. 3d 260 (Fla. 3d DCA 2021)

In the appellate court, the firm protected its client’s entitlement to pursue punitive damages against Bank of America in commercial litigation between its client and the bank. Bank of America had filed a petition for writ of certiorari to vacate the order allowing the firm’s client to pursue punitive damages against it. But the firm was able to defeat that attempt, entitling its client to pursue punitive damages against the bank in the trial court.

Confidential Family Law Appeal (Fla. 3d DCA 2021)

The firm was able to obtain a complete win for its client in a consolidated appellate proceeding in which the appellant challenged eleven orders entered by the trial court. The appellant sought relief through both non-final appeals and original proceedings, such as petitions for writs of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus. This victory, in an appeal spanning the waterfront from equitable distribution issues to children’s issues, allowed the firms’ client to finalize the dissolution of marriage proceeding on remand and end the long-running family-law litigation.

Kozel v. Kozel, 302 So. 3d 939, 941 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019)

The firm convinced the appellate court to reverse a $38 million judgment that the trial court had entered against the firm’s client—the former CEO of an international oil company—in post-judgment family-law proceedings. In an appeal that turned on interpreting the parties’ extensive property settlement agreement, the appellate court agreed with the firm that the multimillion dollar judgment had not enforced the terms of the parties’ agreement and, instead, amounted to a stand-alone money judgment that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter in post-judgment family-law litigation.

Conrad FLB Managment, LLC v. Diamond Blue Int’l, Inc., 300 So. 3d 716 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019)

In an appeal arising from a complex real-estate development transaction, the firm obtained a reversal of a breach-of-promissory note judgment that had been entered against two of the firm’s clients. In achieving this victory, the firm was able to defeat the plaintiffs’ novel argument that monetary liability could be imposed on a non-signatory to a contract simply because the non-signatory benefitted from the loan proceeds that were the subject of the contract and happened to be related to the signing entity.

Tower Hill Select Insurance Company v. Huber, 215 So. 3d 148 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017)

The firm succeeded on appeal in defending a judgment for the insured against several defenses to liability. Briefing issues included the authority for a plaintiff to withdraw part of his insured claim before trial without allowing the insurer to impeach the insured regarding that partial withdrawal and the legal adequacy of jury instructions and a verdict form.

Viscito v. Viscito, 225 So. 3d 959 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017)

The firm reversed an attorney’s fees and costs judgment entered against the client when, following their conditional grant by the appellate court, the trial judge failed to hear evidence regarding the parties’ financial resources, the former wife’s need for appellate fees or the former husband’s ability to pay.

Pataro v. Pataro, 224 So. 3d 824 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017)

The firm successfully reversed the entry of an order setting aside the former spouses’ marital settlement agreement as incorporated into a final judgment of dissolution. Agreeing with the firm’s argument, the court recognized there was no case law specifically supporting the former wife’s position that a final judgment and marital settlement agreement can be set aside purely as a sanction.

Green v. Cottrell, 204 So. 3d 22 (Fla. 2016).

A prisoner’s rights appeal in which the firm prevailed in the Supreme Court of Florida, reversing the determination that the plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies under federal law and had filed after the state statute of limitations expired.

Toomey v. Northern Trust Co., 182 So. 3d 891 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016).

The firm represented beneficiaries to a high-profile, multimillion dollar estate who were seeking to overturn a protective order preventing them from deposing witnesses in an effort to preserve their testimony. Despite the discretionary legal standard that generally rejects appeals from orders denying discovery, the firm prevailed in demonstrating that its clients were irreparably harmed by the protective order.

Gromet v. Jensen, 201 So. 3d 132 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015).

The firm successfully reversed determinations by the trial judge that non-marital assets had been commingled so as to become assets subject to equitable distribution, and that retirement accounts had so enhanced in value as to transform into marital assets.