David S. Willig: The Civil-Law Notary: A Bridge Between Worlds

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DAVID S. WILLIG, ESQ. – The word "notary” is usually associated in the public mind with a quasi-official who pulls out his or her stamp when someone needs a witness for an oath or some other legal transaction. Only three hours of classroom time are required to be a notary public in Florida, but the Civil-Law Notary is very different. These notaries, where they are part of the legal landscape, are high-level legal professionals who handle important transactions.   In creating this designation, the Florida Legislature realized one of its greatest unsung achievements. The Scope of the Profession The Civil-Law Notary is intended to function similarly to that of notaries in “civil law” jurisdictions such as Quebec and Argentina, not incidentally two of Florida’s most important international economic partners. Asian countries such as Japan and China also have adopted … [Read more...]

Anthony De Yurre: Strategies to Serve Process on International Defendants

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BY ANTHONY DE YURRE, ESQ – International demographics lead to international defendants. Unfortunately, service of process on international defendants creates extensive motion practice, including evidentiary hearings. In order to avoid delay and expense, service of process regarding international defendants must be an integral part of early litigation strategy. Both Federal and Florida law provide the same method of service for defendants abroad. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f) provides for service outside the United States, "by any internationally agreed means of service that is reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents." Additionally, Fla. Stat. §48.193(3) provides that, "[S]ervice of process upon any person subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state as provided in … [Read more...]

Hospital Agrees to pay $7 Million in Whistleblower Settlement

TAMPA BAY TIMES -- ST. PETERSBURG — All Children's Hospital has agreed to pay $7 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging it violated antikickback laws by paying inflated salaries and bonuses to doctors so that they would bring in more patients and revenues. The suit was filed in July 2011 by Barbara Schubert, who was director of operations for the doctors' practice at All Children's for more than a decade. She claimed the hospital overpaid doctors by about $5 million in 2010 alone, violating laws regulating the financial relationships between hospitals and the physicians who bring in patients. All Children's, which denied any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, relies heavily on the state-federal Medicaid program. In 2010, the year it opened its new facility, 70 percent of its patient care revenues, or $370 million, came from Medicaid, according to an annual … [Read more...]

Groot: ‘We Must Learn to See Hidden Value’

Attorney Lonnie Groot likes the balancing act

By DONNA BALANCIA, Contributor LAKE HELEN -- Attorney Lonnie Groot likes the balancing act. Over the years as attorney for various Central Florida municipalities, Groot has always sought to keep the balance between big city growth and small town identity. “There’s a special place in my heart for Seminole County and the surrounding towns,” he said. “The region has been very good to me.” As he looks out over Lake Monroe from the sea wall at Sanford, Groot, who is Of Counsel with Strenstrom McIntosh Colbert Wigham & Partlow PA, can see more than water and a couple of people fishing by the harbor. “It’s a hidden gem, don’t you think?” Groot says. “There is the desire here for Sanford to grow and there’s a lot of potential here.” Groot has a knack to see beyond face value, colleagues, friends and family members say. He likes to get down to the … [Read more...]

Farmer-Turned-Attorney: ‘Economy is Pressuring our People’

Brad Hester Fighting for Ag

By DONNA BALANCIA, TFLJ Editor WINTER PARK, Fla. -- Attorney Brad Hester buys locally grown products whenever he can, and not solely to keep in good physical health. The dairy farmer-turned-attorney believes buying Florida-grown products will also nurture a healthy economy. “Agriculture is under a lot of pressure and I help however I can,” Hester said.  “Many factors impact the farmers and all of us are affected every day.” Hester has been involved in the industry for years and says the plight of the farmer pervades all realms of law, touching everything from real estate, to a wide range of environmental issues.  It has been a tough economy throughout the United States, but the farmers in Florida have a particularly tough row to hoe. “The pressure from development has been building, and land values have swung both ways,” said Hester, who works with the law … [Read more...]