Improving Waterfront Property: Challenges to the Fifty Percent Rule are Strictly Construed

Anyone working in waterfront construction long enough has a story (or knows someone who does) about pulled permits or burdensome local rules and regulations which may turn a waterfront dream renovation into a nightmare. Recently, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal confirmed that some waterfront construction is just not meant to be. But, the Court’s ruling as to waterfront construction, which seems patently unfair from a practical standpoint, is not the only takeaway from Bair v. City of Clearwater, Case No. 2d15-1210 (Fla. 2d DCA, August 5, 2016). On its surface, Bair is cautionary tale for waterfront property owners regarding the strict statutory interpretation of the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act[1] (the “Bert Harris Act”); however, it also contains a postscript for legal practitioners concerning equitable estoppel as a standalone claim.[2] Continue reading “Improving Waterfront Property: Challenges to the Fifty Percent Rule are Strictly Construed”

Vesting and Priorities of Competing Construction Liens

Anthony Abate


It goes without saying that a construction project involves a plethora of competing interests. There is a lender, a main contractor, subdivision improvers, architects, and many different subcontractors, all of which are competing for limited funds meant to be exchanged for labor, services, and materials. In an ideal world, there are enough funds to pay the full value of all claims for work, services, and materials furnished.  However, this is not always the case and is a main reason why Florida has such an in-depth statutory scheme governing construction liens and other claims to funds.  As such, this article intends to address the basic vesting and priorities among competing liens.

A.     Relation Back Doctrine

The most basic rule for maximizing your chances of getting compensated for work, services, or material furnished is: first in time, first in right. Simply put, the first to record their lien will take priority over subsequently recorded liens. Continue reading “Vesting and Priorities of Competing Construction Liens”

Reconstructing Havana

Kevin P. Braig
Kevin P. Braig

During the first week of April, I visited Havana, Cuba, on an educational exchange trip with the Ohio State Bar Association. As we made our way through the city, including restaurants that served first class cuisine, I could not shake the feeling that I was mingling with a sophisticated civilization that was living amongst the ruins left behind by a former civilization.

Havana is a city of proud and resourceful people who welcomed us warmly. There did not appear to be a bone of apathy in the entire city.  Yet, the state of erosion of the physical infrastructure cannot be understated.

In some places, we saw homes being restored to past glory using nothing more than wheelbarrows of cement and shovels and other hand tools. But it was far more common to see blocks of the city where paint is peeling, sections of marble and railing have gone missing, and concrete has eroded to such an extent that one can see the aggregate in the walls of buildings. Continue reading “Reconstructing Havana”