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Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon Attorney Adam White Installed as President of the Young Lawyers Division

On Friday, June 19, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon (ESC) attorney Adam J. T.W. White was installed as president of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the Florida Bar. The ceremony was held virtually in Pensacola due to COVID-19 concerns and was originally scheduled to take place in Orlando at the Florida Bar Annual Convention. White has served on the YLD Board of Governors for five years. In his acceptance speech, he attributed his involvement with the YLD to former Florida Bar President and current ESC attorney, Alan Bookman. “One day, Alan Bookman called me into his office and told me I should run for the YLD Board of Governors. Truthfully, I had never heard of the ‘YLD’ – and I later realized he was referring to the Young Lawyers Division. Still not fully appreciating what being a member of the YLD Board meant, but wanting to impress my new boss, I ran for the open seat,” said White. “After I was elected, I found myself surrounded by the best and brightest attorneys from all around the state. I listened that first year in awe of the issues this board discussed, issues that actually matter to young lawyers, issues that make our profession better. It was amazing and it was inspiring. In that first year, I knew that I wanted to give the board my best effort, so that one day, I might have the privilege to lead it. I am honored that time is now.” In his speech he mentioned three main areas of focus for his presidency. First, he will ensure all initiatives include diverse speakers and participants, and that they promote inclusion. Second, he will oversee the online resources YLD offers its membership and ensure they are relevant to the virtual atmosphere young lawyers are working in today. Third, he will oversee the YLD’s partnership with the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism to develop and maintain long-term professionalism and ethics programming for Florida law schools and Florida young lawyers. “Taking on the presidency of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division requires one to have great passion and dedication for the legal profession, and to the members of the YLD,” said Thomas Miller, Program Administrator of the Florida Bar. “Adam has the passion, dedication and an unwavering work ethic that will serve him well as president. I look forward to his presidency and all the accomplishments he and the YLD Board of Governors will achieve.”  Since joining ESC in 2014, White has primarily practiced general civil litigation with an emphasis in construction law, contract and commercial litigation and employment law. He became a shareholder of ESC in 2019. As an active member of the community, he serves on the board for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida and is a past president of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division.  White earned his Juris Doctorate in 2010 from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Before law school, he attended the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia, Missouri. White’s installation as YLD president continues ESC’s long history of service with the Florida Bar, which includes two past presidents, Patrick G. Emmanuel (1985-1986) and Alan B. Bookman (2005-2006), as well as four members of the board of governors: Gerald L. Brown, Al G. Condon, Patrick G. Emmanuel and Alan B. Bookman. About YLD: The Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar has more than 26,000 members. All lawyers under age 36 and new Florida Bar members for the first 5 years in good standing are automatically members. The purpose of the YLD is to stimulate and encourage the interest and participation of division members in the purposes of The Florida Bar. The YLD provides a full and complete program of activities and projects designed to be of interest and assistance to members, and to engage in such activities as shall tend to further the best interests of the legal profession. About ESC: Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon has been serving Pensacola for more than 100 years. We have established a proud tradition of integrity and excellence in the legal profession as a full-service firm. Our experienced team of attorneys provides services to individuals and institutions alike with legal matters ranging from commercial litigation, real estate, and estate planning, to personal injury, employment, social security and family law. With a footprint stretching across Perdido, Pensacola, Pace, Destin, and Tallahassee, we are here to serve your legal needs. For more information visit esclaw.com or call 850.433.6581.

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Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations Impacted by Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally was certainly an event that all of us along the Gulf Coast will long remember.  Property damage appears significant and lives have been disrupted. Recovery will take time. Fortunately, we are members of a resilient community. Many of us have been through this before. We will help our neighbors and will again get through this together.  Choosing disaster recovery vendors  One of the most important tasks for an association manager or board in the post-storm phase is to carefully choose the companies or individuals to assist in the clean up or restoration of your property and to obtain review and proper approval of contracts. Community Associations Institute (CAI) maintains a database of business partners as a valuable resource. Search by state or by “North Gulf Coast Chapter” to locate vendors who support the community association industry:  https://directory.caionline.org/.  Be sure to also use the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, trusted associates or other sources to carefully vet those who seek your business. Check licensing with DBPR (https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=) and with your local authorities and always verify insurance.  Emergency powers Florida community associations may also choose to invoke emergency powers in the aftermath of a hurricane to more readily conduct association business control access to damaged areas. The emergency powers are contained in Section 718.1265 (for condominiums) and Section 720.316 (for homeowners’ associations) of the Florida Statutes. However, the emergency powers are limited in application so seek legal advice regarding the association’s particular needs. CAI also offers helpful information for recovery best practices on its website: https://www.caionline.org/HomeownerLeaders/DisasterResources/Pages/HelpingOurNeighbors.aspx.  Staying connected and sharing information  I will be participating in a panel discussion with the North Gulf Coast Chapter of CAI on Wednesday September 23 about how COVID-19 has impacted community associations: https://www.cai-ngcc.org/. This is still an important issue, even now.  It is also more important than ever that we continue to “gather” to share ideas and best practices on the various issues facing community associations. Please consider joining CAI as a member and participating in its upcoming educational virtual events as we work together to tackle the many issues with which associations must contend.   As always, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon is by your side in business and life. Our full-service law firm stands ready should you need us in these trying times. Do not hesitate to contact Suzanne Blankenship at sblankenship@esclaw.com or 850.439.5992.

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A Step-By-Step Approach To Residential Rental Security Deposits

Florida Landlord Tenant Law has a step-by-step procedure for retention and return of a security deposit for a residential tenancy.  If a tenant deposited money with a landlord for advance rent or security for damages to the premises caused by the tenant, the landlord must return the security deposit within fifteen (15) days of the tenant vacating the premises upon termination of the lease if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit.   The landlord must give the tenant written notice within thirty (30) days of the tenant vacating the premises upon termination of the lease if the landlord intends to impose a claim on the security deposit.  The notice must be by certified mail sent to the tenant at their last known address.   If the landlord fails to give the required notice then the landlord forfeits the right to impose a claim on the security deposit. However, the landlord may file a separate action for unpaid rent or property damage independent of the deposit. If the tenant objects to the landlord imposing a claim on the security deposit, the tenant must send the landlord a written objection with fifteen (15) days after receipt of the landlord’s notice of intention to impose a claim on the security deposit.   The tenants’ written objection should be sent by certified mail return receipt requested so that the tenant has proof of delivery. The failure of the tenant to make a timely objection waives their right to a return of the security deposit. If the landlord and the tenant each correctly send the required notices and cannot reach an agreement regarding a return of the security deposit, then the parties are at a legal standoff. Thereafter, either party may institute an action in court to determine their right to the security deposit.   A judge will first determine whether the required notices were sent correctly and timely and then ultimately make the decision of whether the landlord property retained the security deposit. The prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.   If you need legal assistance please contact Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon at 850-433-6581. We are a full-service law firm with experienced lawyers providing services to individuals and institutions in all legal matters including personal injury, commercial litigation, employment law, real estate, social security, family law, and worker’s compensation.

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Arrested for Driving on a suspended license (DWLS)?

If you have been arrested or received a Notice to Appear for driving on a suspended driver’s license, you can face serious consequences.  Oftentimes, defendants are told that they will likely only receive a fine.  However, this is rarely the case.  If the State of Florida can prove that you knew your license was Suspended or Revoked when you were driving, you will face a criminal charge with the possibility of incarceration upon conviction.  Furthermore, the conviction could lead to a Habitual Traffic Offender designation resulting in a 5-year driver’s license revocation.  This often occurs after the criminal court only imposed a monetary fine for the criminal offense.   If you are accused of driving on a suspended or revoked license, please contact Galen M. Novotny with Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon for a free evaluation of our case to review all possible defenses to successfully resolve the matter.

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How Title Insurance Protects All Homebuyers

The Basics There are two types of title insurance: the owner’s policy and the lender’s policy. The owner’s policy protects your property rights as the homebuyer, whereas the lender’s policy ensures the financial investment of the bank or lender. If someone else claims ownership of your property, title insurance typically defends you legally and financially. Common Risks Here are some examples of problems with title: Liens against the property that serve as security for the payment of an obligation (e.g. mortgage liens, judgment liens for unpaid court judgments, federal tax liens, state and local liens for failure to pay real estate taxes or assessments, mechanic’s liens to secure payment for property improvements, liens for recovery of child support payments or, as in New York City, for unpaid parking tickets). Easements that have been created by contract or arisen through use or adverse prescription (e.g. rights of way for utilities, rights acquired by neighbors because of a fence encroachment). Building or use restrictions contained in recorded plats, agreements or deeds. Claims arising out of bankruptcy. These are just some of the many reasons why getting owner’s title insurance is crucial when buying or refinancing a home. It gives you peace of mind that your property rights are protected. Refinancing? When you refinance, you are obtaining a new loan, even if you stay with your original lender. Lenders will usually require a new title search and lender’s policy to protect their investment in the property. Fortunately, homeowners don’t need to purchase a new owner’s policy—the one you bought at closing is good for as long as you or your family own the property. However, you may want to contact an ALTA member to update your policy to reflect changes in your life.   Enduring Value Owner’s title insurance is a low, one-time fee based on the value of your home. For example, the typical owner’s title insurance policy costs an average of 0.5% of a home’s purchase price. With a home being one of the largest investments you’ll ever make, it’s clear why getting owner’s title insurance is such a smart way to give yourself peace of mind. More Homebuyer Tips & Information The American Land Title Association helps educate homebuyers like you about title insurance so you can protect your property rights. Check out www.homeclosing101.org to learn more about title insurance and the home closing process. *This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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Technology You Use Everyday May Potentially be used Against You in the Courtroom

New technology devices, apps for your smartphone, and social media websites, while fun to use for recreation, to better your health, and for social interaction, can also be used in the courtroom. In today’s world people have become far more reliant on technology in their everyday lives; however, it is important to understand that in using these new types of technology, data and information is being created which can be used in the courtroom both to support and to defend against your case. Social media website information, such as Facebook, has been used for quite some time in a variety of legal matters. It is important to understand that when using Facebook, while you may think you are only posting statements, pictures, and sending messages to your friends, all of the information you add to the website could potentially be used in the courtroom.  For instance, if you are an employee who is having a conflict with a co-worker or supervisor at work, and you turn to Facebook to talk to your friends about that issue, that information could be used in the courtroom if that conflict later turns into legal action.  The same can be said for a business owner who turns to Facebook to talk about a business deal gone wrong, or a husband who turns to Facebook to air his laundry about a custody battle with his children’s mother.   However, it seems now, more than ever, attorneys are turning to other information and data created by technology for use in the courtroom.   Recently, Forbes.com reported that a Calgary law firm is having their client, who sustained a personal injury, wear a Fitbit to track her post-injury activity to prove that she is now significantly less active than before the accident. The idea is that the Fitbit, a fitness tracking device, will track the woman’s physical activity and her attorneys can then use that tracked activity to prove her activity levels are lower now than they were prior to the accident. This is especially important in this case, as the young woman was a personal trainer prior to the accident. Information and data from technology are likely to continue to be fertile ground for information to use in the courtroom. Knowledge of the existence of this type of information and data is an important consideration for you as a potential litigant and is an important consideration for attorneys when preparing your case.  If you are aware of the existence of this type of data or information, please make your lawyer aware of that data or information so that the attorney can evaluate the potential impact of it on your case. If you need legal assistance please contact Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon. We are a full-service law firm with experienced lawyers providing services to individuals and institutions in all legal matters including personal injury, commercial litigation, employment law, real estate, social security, family law, and worker’s compensation.

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Avoiding a DUI

The number one way to avoid a DUI arrest is simple, don’t drink and drive.  That is the only sure way to avoid a DUI.  However, in Florida it is not illegal to drink and drive, it is only illegal to drive while under the influence to the extent your normal faculties are impaired, or with an unlawful blood alcohol level.  That means, one drink may not be a problem, however, several drinks can be.  It is important to use your discretion and know your limits.  Make sure that you are sober and able to drive if you do make the decision to get behind the wheel.  Not only are you potentially putting yourself at risk, but others who share the road with you as well.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, please contact Galen M. Novotny with Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon for a free consultation to protect your rights.

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7 REASONS WHY EVERY HOMEBUYER NEEDS OWNER’S TITLE INSURANCE

1. Protects Your Largest Investment A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll make in your life. You ensure everything else that’s valuable to you—your life, car, personal property, health, pets, jewelry, etc.—so why not your largest investment? For a one-time fee, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights for as long as you or your heirs* own the home. 2. Reduces Your Risk If you’re buying a home, there are many hidden issues that may pop up after purchasing it. Getting an owner’s title insurance policy protects you from legal title discrepancies. Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again. Here are just some of the many situations that you’ll be protected from if you have owner’s title insurance.Unforeseeable title claims, such as: Forgery: making a false document     For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person selling the property. Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain     For example, someone steals your identity and sells your house without your knowledge or consent or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money. Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records     For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line causes confusion in ownership rights. Unexpected title claims, such as: Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or liens against the property because the seller didn’t pay the required taxes Pending legal action against the property that could affect your ownership An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property 3. You Can’t Beat the Value Owner’s title insurance is a one-time fee that’s very low relative to the value it provides. It typically costs around 0.5% of a home’s purchase price. 4. Covers Your Heirs* As long as you or your heirs* own your home, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights.5. Nothing ComparesHome insurance and warranties protect only the inside of the home. Getting owner’s title insurance ensures your family’s property rights stay protected. 6. 8 in 10 Homebuyers Agree Each year, more than 80% of America’s homebuyers choose to get owner’s title insurance. 7. Peace of Mind If you’re buying a home, owner’s title insurance lets you rest assured, with the knowledge that you won’t be stuck with certain existing debts or legal problems once you’ve closed on your new home. More Homebuyer Tips & Information The American Land Title Association helps educate homebuyers like you about title insurance so you can protect your property rights. Check out www.homeclosing101.org to learn more about title insurance and the home closing process. *This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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Can I Sue My Employer for My On-The-Job Injury?

In Florida, if you are injured in an accident that occurred in the course and scope of your employment, your employer is required to provide you with reasonably necessary medical treatment and lost wage benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident.  Thus, even if you caused the accident that leads to your injury, your employer is still obligated to provide the appropriate medical and lost wage benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation law.  However, in exchange for these “no-fault” benefits, your employer receives tort immunity.  This means that more likely than not, you cannot sue your employer for your injury or damages, even if your employer is at fault.  If you have any questions on what benefits you are entitled to under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, please contact Galen M. Novotny with Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon for a free consultation.

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The Benefits of Closing with an Attorney

In Florida, unlike many states, both attorneys and title companies may close real estate transactions and issue title insurance.  However, closing with an attorney may offer notable benefits that a title company cannot provide, some of which I will discuss. First, a real estate attorney has the unique ability and training to address a host of issues that may arise at any time throughout the closing process.  An attorney can prepare corrective documents or take legal action necessary to cure title defects that may otherwise prevent closing. For example, an attorney may prepare non-standard addenda, deeds, and/or affidavits, or initiate a lawsuit to cure material defects.    Second, an attorney can provide legal representation, advice and guidance throughout the transaction, from contract negotiation through closing and post-closing.  In short, when an issue threatens to thwart a closing, a real estate attorney is best equipped to address it, increasing the likelihood for a successful closing.    Conversely, a title company’s role is typically limited (or legally restricted) to preparing generic documents necessary to transfer ownership and issue a title insurance policy and, thus, may not address specific issues that may arise in a particular transaction.           Typically, the closing costs charged by an attorney and a title company are comparable, as the title insurance premiums are set by the Florida Department of Insurance and are the same for attorneys and title companies.  Thus, for generally the same cost, a real estate attorney may prove invaluable since that attorney is well positioned to address unexpected issues that may arise throughout the closing process.  With closings, the adage rings true – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!     Scot B. Copeland is a board-certified Real Estate Attorney and practices out of our South Walton office. Scot can help give you peace of mind during the purchase or sale of your real property.     

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