Homeowners and Condominimum Association Representation
Mr. Wortman represents approximately ﬁfty (50) homeowners associations, condominium associations, and co-ops in areas of collection, prosecuting lien foreclosures as involving delinquent accounts, representing the interests of those associations as involving mortgage foreclosure matters, and as creditor in bankruptcy proceedings.
The mortgage foreclosure crisis has deeply impacted homeowners and condominium associations throughout the state of Florida. The effects of this phenomenon continue to reverberate throughout and wreak ﬁnancial havoc on community associations. Maximizing the collectability of unpaid assessments from delinquent owners and institutional foreclosing lenders requires nuanced knowledge of the lien and mortgage foreclosure process in south Florida to which Mr. Wortman has a deep well of experience greatly benefitting his community association clientele.
Mr. Wortman is extensively involved in the day to day governance of the community associations he represents. He routinely drafts amendments to an association’s governing documents, ensuring their preservation pursuant to Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act. He oversees the revitalization of governing documents when necessary, crafts extensive rules and regulations, assists in the administration of the ﬁne and violation committee procedures, prepares notices for annual, budget and membership meetings, and mediates and litigates difﬁcult covenant enforcement issues. Mr. Wortman attends annual elections to ensure electoral procedural compliance is adhered to and often attends Board of Director meetings for his community association clientele when asked. Mr. Wortman provides advice, guidance and oversees the “turnover” process and asserts civil claims for ﬁnancial deﬁcit funding or other budgetary improprieties and construction defect issues as related to the initial developer. Mr. Wortman has represented community associations in contentious litigations with neighboring associations, master associations versus sub-associations, developers, lawsuits against collection agencies who engaged in unsavory collection practices, extricated community associations from unfair and unconscionable contracts, and frequently reviews, revises and negotiates critical terms to contracts between a community association and a proposed vendor or contractor.
Mr. Wortman’s extensive experience in this area of the law has been recognized by the Florida Bar resulting in Mr. Wortman being awarded the status of Board Certiﬁcation in the area of Condominium and Planned Development Law – the ﬁrst time such expert designation was made available to practicing attorneys in the State of Florida.
Frequently Mr. Wortman is called upon to lecture on various condominium and homeowners association topics providing legislative updates to community association Boards of Directors and property management groups. Yet, in spite of his extensive experience and high honor of achieving dual Florida Bar Board Certifications, SJW Law Group, PLLC provides premiere practical and effective legal services to its clientele at consistently affordable rates. Mr. Wortman’s clientele commonly rely upon his legal acumen for years, finding him to be that rare combination of providing the highest level of legal representation, the consistent practice of immediately returning a phone call or email, and providing reasonable and flexible payment arrangements.
Real Estate Transactions
In his multi-decade career as a real estate attorney, Mr. Wortman has been involved in virtually every imaginable real estate transaction in the state of Florida. Mr. Wortman’s extensive experience in the area of Real Estate Law has been recognized by the Florida Bar resulting in Mr. Wortman being awarded the status of Florida Bar Board Certiﬁcation in the area of Real Estate Law.
Mr. Wortman has handled all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions including contract drafting, review and examination of title work, curing title defects, extensive interaction with buyers, sellers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and lenders for coordination of all closing matters. Mr. Wortman has a library of real estate forms and addenda to real estate contracts which cover innumerable real estate transactional scenarios. He has drafted, reviewed, revised and negotiated commercial leases for large and small commercial real estate properties. He has served as closing attorney for purchase and sale transactions, reﬁnance transactions, reverse mortgage transactions, and served as a qualified intermediary for “1031 transactions”. He routinely advises clientele on inspection related issues, due diligence obligations, drafting addenda to contracts, preparation of escrow agreements, and attending to post-closing matters.
Mr. Wortman has successfully represented buyers in new construction contracts for purposes of demanding rescission of contract pursuant to the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and ﬁled and oversees title insurance claims for buyers. He has ﬁled property tax appeals involving homestead and assessment issues and previously served as a Special Magistrate for Palm Beach County as involving homestead designation disputes for property tax appeal purposes.
Small and mid-size businesses have an array of corporate legal issues which require the involvement of a competent corporate attorney. Initially the concern may be what entity form to choose, i.e., a limited liability company, corporation with or without subchapter S status, a limited partnership, general partnership, along with which state of company or corporate formation provides the most advantages. With multiple partners, shareholders, members, or investors, how to structure a fair and comprehensive shareholders agreement, operating agreement or partnership agreement is critical to the proper planning and delineation of rights and obligations among the parties mutually engaged in a business enterprise. Regular annual corporate governance advice is critical to strengthen the shield against personal liability of the individuals involved in corporate related activities. Lastly, the dissolution of an entity or disputes between shareholders, members, and partners are an all too common experience to which Mr. Wortman has extensive experience attempting to cost effectively resolving these issues or when an amicable resolution is not possible, engage in aggressive litigation in an effort to obtain a just result for his clientele.
Real Estate Related Legal Matters
The intricacies of real estate transaction law, the ever- changing terms to the residential form purchase and sale contract commonly called the “FAR/BAR” contract, often times result in claims of professional negligence on the part of real estate law practitioners. Given the importance of adhering to time sensitive deadlines as typically delineated in real estate contracts, including inspection periods, provision of deposits, and ensuring clear and marketable title is provided to prospective buyers at the time of closing, mishandling of any of these issues could easily result in the signiﬁcant losses to a buyer or seller. Third party involvement in these transactions, such as real estate brokers, lenders, inspectors, and closing agents directly impact the advice and representation provided by real estate attorneys and are factored into the analysis as to whether the attorney performed services properly. The choice of form real estate contract also is subject to professional malpractice claims. For instance, utilizing a “FAR/BAR” Residential Real Estate Contract form when the transaction involves commercial real estate is a common act of professional negligence on the part of the attorney. As a Florida Bar Board Certiﬁed Real Estate Law Attorney, Mr. Wortman already has been bestowed with the designation of “expert” in the ﬁeld of “real estate law” easing the burden of qualifying one’s expert for testimonial purposes as well as lending keen credibility to opinions rendered and conclusions drawn due to his Florida Bar Board Certiﬁcation status.
Homeowners Association and Condominium Association Related Legal Matters
Florida Statute §718, et. seq. and §720, et. seq. the condominium association law statute and homeowners’ association law statute, respectively, is complex and case law expounding on these statutes and practice area is vast. The community association law practitioners’ keen observance to the ever changing law is a community association attorney’s professional obligation. The provision of advice to boards of directors and property managers often turns on the smallest of details which could give rise to signiﬁcant liability or at times may result in claims of professional negligence. Ensuring the preservation of a homeowners’ association’s governing documents pursuant to the Marketable Record Title Act is commonly a professional trap for the unwary community association practitioner along with amending governing documents properly so as not to unwittingly create liability for the association client through the inclusion of “Kaufman” language in an adopted amendment. As a Florida Bar Board Certiﬁed Condominium and Planned Development Law Attorney, Mr. Wortman already has been bestowed with the designation of “expert” in this ﬁeld of law easing the burden of qualifying one’s expert for testimonial purposes as well as lending keen credibility to opinions rendered and conclusions drawn due to his Florida Bar Board Certiﬁcation status.
Reasonable Attorney Fee Determinations
Generally, when awarding attorneys fees to a prevailing party pursuant to a contract provision or statute, the trial court must determine a reasonable hourly rate for the particular services rendered and a reasonable amount of time for the attorney to have spent performing the necessary work. Although the attorney for the prevailing party can obviously testify as to the rate charged and the amount of time expended, the attorney must present independent expert testimony in order to establish that the rate charged and the amount of time expended is reasonable and necessary for the nature of the services rendered. See Snow v. Harlan Bakeries, Inc., 932 So. 2d 411, 412 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006)(“Florida has a long-standing practice of requiring testimony of expert fee witnesses to establish the reasonableness of attorney’s fees.”); See also Ghannam v. Shelnutt, 199 So. 3d 295, 299-300 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016). Expert witness testimony is particularly important when the attorney is representing a client on a contingency fee basis and seeks to establish a lodestar (i.e., multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended times a reasonable hourly rate) and a “contingency risk” factor or multiplier (i.e., an upward adjustment in the lodestar calculation based a variety of factors such as the risk of litigation, results obtained, etc.). See Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So. 2d 828, 834 (Fla. 1990). If you are an attorney seeking to establish the amount of attorney fees and costs under Florida law (or opposing a request for attorney fees and costs by an attorney for the opposing party), Scott J. Wortman, Esq. is able to serve as an expert witness to testify concerning the reasonableness of the claimed fees and costs. Mr. Wortman has routinely testiﬁed as an expert as to the reasonableness of attorneys fees and costs in real estate related matters.