What are our Areas of Practice?
(Click each area for a description of each one)
We are proud that two among us have clerked for Federal Bankruptcy Judges before coming to the Firm. When loan enforcement litigation and debt restructure are pursued, obligors commonly seek bankruptcy relief. Whenever possible, the Firm seeks results for its non-debtor clients that can be achieved with minimal time, expense, rancor, and uncertainty. Chapter 11 offers many opportunities for amicable resolution of troubled debt scenarios. Chapter 11 can offer mutually acceptable long term results calculated to enable debtors to retain assets while producing a stable repayment schedule acceptable to creditors that might not otherwise be realizable. However, obligor business entities sometimes commonly file petitions for Chapter 11 relief merely to temporarily shield encumbered assets by the automatic stay, or to seek relief at the expense of creditors. The Firm routinely represents creditors in business reorganizations in litigation to modify the automatic stay, valuation contests, disclosure statement and confirmation objections, and efforts to obtain fiduciary oversight for problem debtors. When individual obligors seek Chapter 7 relief, the Firm routinely addresses disputes involving claims of exemptions, dischargeability of particular debts, the entitlement of a debtor to a general discharge, recoverability of fraudulent and preferential transfers, and other disputes. The Firm’s representations run a range from some of the very largest in the State of Florida to the much more surgical and routine representations commonly required by financial institutions.
Practice area includes business formation, general corporate representation, shareholder agreements and disputes, and structuring, negotiating and documenting sophisticated business transactions.
Commercial Real Estate / Lending Transactions
Anthony & Partners real estate practice area is headed by Frank A. Lafalce. With a combined 30 years of legal and banking experience in real estate transactions and real estate finance, our Firm is uniquely qualified to serve the needs of real estate investors. We have represented lenders and borrowers in residential, multifamily, marinas, retail and other commercial real estate projects throughout the State of Florida.
Our clients consult us on a wide range of complex issues in transactions, including but not limited to:
- Real estate acquisition and development
- Real estate finance
- Real estate issues arising in the context of bankruptcy or other creditor’s rights arenas
- Commercial leasing
- Formation and structure of ownership entities
Having represented over 40 state and national lending institutions, the Firm has specialized and extensive experience in the area of real estate finance. We have represented both commercial lenders and borrowers in a wide variety of real estate and other commercial financing transactions.
Anthony & Partners is proud to be a member of The Fund, and provides title review and title insurance services for its clients.
REPRESENTATIVE TRANSACTIONS 2012-14.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $4.8 million Tampa Bay community bank refinance of a portfolio of 5 industrial buildings owned by a limited partnership.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $1.5 million increase of a home builder’s revolving line of credit for a Tampa Bay community bank.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $2.8 million bank refinance of a Naples area executive golf course.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $1.2 million bank loan to acquire owner occupied commercial real estate and accompanying $1.0 million SBA 504 loan.
- Prepared and closed $600k note sale for Jacksonville based community bank.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $400k bank loan to acquire commercial real estate.
- Prepared loan documents and closed a $3.2 million Farm Credit increase and restructure of real estate and business asset secured loans to a landscape company in Florida panhandle.
- Prepared loan documents and closed an $825k revolving line of credit and $600k real estate term loan to an industrial company for a regional bank.
Loan enforcement litigation typically occurs in state court, but is also at times pursued in federal court when jurisdiction exists. The Firm has represented more than fifty financial institutions and comparable lenders in litigation to recover on notes, recover on guaranties, foreclose mortgage liens, replevy personal property, and address all manner of affirmative defenses, counterclaims, and similar gambits presented by obligors in response to the same. The Firm’s representation in standard enforcement of commercial loan documents has commonly involved judgment collection, discovery in aid of execution, receivership litigation, deficiency litigation, and related efforts. The Firm’s familiarity with systems and procedures unique to commercial debt collection in the State of Florida ensures fast, fair, and predictable results to our creditor clients.
A significant percentage of the Firm’s work involves the restructuring of secured debt in a consensual context with obligors having reasonable expectations in light of underlying business realities. Unlike the origination and documentation of new loans, the planning and documentation of loan restructures in a troubled debt context requires special attention in many respects. The documentation of liens and security interests, the perfection of liens on new collateral, the timing of releases, the likelihood and availability of bankruptcy relief, and other considerations, are all among the unique matters to consider when documenting “workouts” in an insolvency environment. The Firm’s professionals have had premier involvement in extraordinarily large debt restructure transactions for decades, and have not simply reinvented their professional careers to adjust to the present economic environment. If obligors are cooperative, and lenders have a prudent method in sight to stabilize troubled debt, the Firm has the skills and experience necessary to make a debt restructure a “quiet success.”
False Claims Act/Qui Tam Defense
Organizations and corporate officers are often surprised to learn they are the target of False Claims Act litigation or claim brought by an insider or whistleblower. These claims are filed under seal, and depending upon the type of claim, the U.S. Government may intervene in the case. Kristi Neher Davisson heads our False Claims defense team, and has extensive experience defending companies, officers and directors against false claims act cases, particularly as they relate to government contracts. Our team is experienced in all aspects of defending these complex matters, from responding to subpoenas and audits in an initial investigation, through discovery, retention of expert witnesses and trial.
HOA and Condominiums
The firm’s attorneys have extensive experience drafting community documents and amendments, following the philosophy to clarify and resolve anticipated disputes, not to create them. Our experienced attorneys counsel banks taking title by foreclosure and determining whether to lend on security subject to association declarations, individuals in deciding whether to buy in a certain community, homeowners fighting unjust assessments or restrictions, businesses subject to commercial condominiums or in the business of buying property subject to community associations, and the boards of homeowners associations and condominiums on all legal issues involving development, declaration amendments, maintenance, governance, enforcement and assessments to make sure that the proper steps are taken to avoid litigation and that no one is charged more than the law prescribes. Our goal is to provide an honest, non-self-serving opinion as to community association issues to level the playing field for both the owners and the associations in which the members place their trust. Our opinions are easily understood, and provide clear direction to reasonable and fair results. Another advantage is the firm’s ability to aggressively and sensibly litigate all forms of community disputes, including but not limited to condo arbitration, HOA pre-suit mediation, turnover disputes, construction defects, fair housing claims, eviction of problematic tenants, injunctions to compel compliance and general litigation.
Lender Liability / Complex Litigation
Our society is aberrantly plagued by frivolous litigation. Our business environment suffers when parties to distressed lending relationships resort to frivolous “lender liability” litigation as a method of achieving business objectives. Members of the Firm have successfully defended two large lender liability lawsuits before such claims were certified as causes of action. Members of the Firm have successfully defended an international financial institution from a publicly traded Florida-based manufacturer seeking more than $50,000,000 in monetary damages for alleged fraud, violation of the State of Florida’s “Civil Theft Statute,” and on other grounds. This result was upheld on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, with members of the Firm pitted against the most senior litigators at one of the State of Florida’s largest law firms. The Firm continues to succeed in obtaining dismissals of various obligor counterclaims (and strategic “first strike” lender liability complaints) in state, bankruptcy, and other federal venues. Our goal is not merely to prevail on behalf of our lender clients, but to prevail in the most complete and prompt manner practicable in light of the procedural barriers that are inherent to civil litigation. Our lawyers have been involved in numerous examples of extremely complex litigation, ranging up to $160,000,000 in controversy, bringing fast and fair results to our cherished clients. Although financial institutions and other creditors seldom become embroiled in complex commercial litigation apart from loan enforcement and lender liability, the Firm has been involved in the representation of financial institutions in an array of contexts (including disputes between and among loan participants, enforceability of non-competition contracts, and competing lien priority disputes).
Representation of Fiduciaries
The Firm’s members have more than thirty-five years of collective experience representing court-appointed fiduciaries, including Chapter 11 trustees, Chapter 11 examiners, reorganization trustees, special litigation trustees, Chapter 7 trustees, all in Bankruptcy Court. The State of Florida’s “Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors” statute permits a state law alternative to Chapter 7 under the federal bankruptcy scheme. The Firm has also represented fiduciaries in an “ABC” context as a matter of course, with great success. Fiduciary representations require a full range of knowledge of various areas of the law, so that the fiduciary and the Firm can maximize recovery for the benefit of creditors and others who rely upon our expertise. Some of the Firm’s stunning successes have been those pursued on behalf of Court appointed fiduciaries.
Specialty Recovery Litigation and Collections
While garnishment, levy, and other familiar debt collection activities are among the Firm’s standard, post-judgment undertakings, large judgments often require a unique array of knowledge, experience, and good judgment. The Firm analyzes representations involving the collection of large judgments with an eye toward locating, recovering, and liquidating fraudulent transfers utilizing the State of Florida’s version of the “Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.” The Firm takes seriously the rights of creditors to initiate involuntary bankruptcy cases under certain circumstances. We have multiple examples of seven figure recoveries obtained by members of the Firm that stem solely from adversarial judgment enforcement activity with no ultimate expense borne by the client creditor.
When large, complicated lending relationships experience payment and covenant defaults, specialized experience may be needed to address the creation, perfection, and enforcement of liens encumbering unique assets. The Firm’s lawyers have handled numerous representations involving the enforcement of various forms of maritime liens, with numerous vessel arrests effectuated throughout the State of Florida. Similarly, our lawyers have documented transactions and pursued in rem loan enforcements involving aircraft, aircraft engines, and related equipment statewide. Beverage licenses and other related rights are involved in many workouts, bankruptcies, and loan enforcement actions, and the ability to maintain and transfer the business and legal benefits of a nightclub or hotel may require this expertise. The Firm’s specialized knowledge also extends to intellectual property liens, with one of our lawyers having achieved a full pay-off on a $25MM loan secured by artistic obligations to create music. Given the importance of being able to rely upon properly created and enforceable liens to the creditors, our Firm is able to address unique needs of our sophisticated clients.