Federal Court Jury Trial Victory!

On November 30, 2017, at the conclusion of three day jury trial, Pete Mackey and T.R. Smith procured a Federal Court jury verdict in favor of Mackey Law Group’s client. This ended over a year’s worth of nasty litigation concerning Mackey Law Group’s client, who is a minority shareholder in a defendant out-of-state corporation which contracts with the United States government.

Once again, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers defeated “the big boys”. The defendant corporation (which has revenues in excess of $14 million per year), was represented by two law firms: (i) a Washington D.C. 40+ year lawyer;  and (ii) a “Florida Legal Elite” lawyer from West Palm Beach who is a member of a large state-wide law firm. Mackey Law Group’s client initially sued in Bradenton, Florida State Court and the defendant corporation and its lawyers removed the case to Federal Court, obviously thinking that things would be tougher for Mackey Law Group’s lawyers in that forum. The defendant corporation also asserted four counter-claims which, not-surprisingly, were for amounts which exceeded what was being sought by Mackey Law Group’s minority-shareholder client.

The claim by Mackey Law Group’s client was for money owed for deferred officer salary under an oral contract. Of course, the defendant corporation was going to deny the existence of any such contract/agreement; so, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers also sued for what is called “unjust enrichment”. In Florida, one can sue on a contract claim and also, within the same lawsuit, sue for the same money due under a non-contract claim. Thus, if the court or jury finds there is no contract, the client can still prevail.

On the third day of trial, and before the case went to the jury for deliberations, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers also got all four of the defendant corporation’s counterclaims thrown-out, via the procurement of directed verdicts. Those rulings resulted in the only claims going to the jury being Mackey Law Group’s client’s claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The jury awarded Mackey Law Group’s client $154,000 and now the firm’s client will also be able to get a judgment for his litigation costs as well.

Once again, this jury verdict goes to evidence that the little-guy can win in our legal system. Despite how big the opponent is or how many high-priced lawyers the opponent hires; if you have a good lawyer, you can prevail and attain justice. Mackey Law Group’s lawyers are courtroom veterans and successfully try cases in both State and Federal Court.

Is Your Neighbors New Landscaping Project Flooding Your House?

Did you know Florida is the flattest state in the U.S.? It is also one of the wettest states, receiving more rain than any other state during the wet summer months. Because of this, care must be taken when undertaking new construction to consider how new developments will impact the flow of water.

For example, if your neighbor decides to raise the elevation of his property, change the landscaping of his yard, or build an addition to his home, you may find yourself taking on more water than ever. This may lead to flooding, causing thousands of dollars in damage. What are your rights if you find yourself in this scenario?

Florida follows the “Reasonable Use Doctrine”. It states that a land owner may alter his land, even if it changes or increases the flow of surface water, so long as it is reasonable. Reasonableness is determined on a case by case basis, and the court may consider, the nature and importance of any improvements, whether or not the damage was reasonably foreseeable, the extent of damage compared to the value of any improvements. At this point, you may need to hire an attorney.

              Mackey Law Group has represented clients dealing with flooding caused by negligent neighbors, and are familiar with the law. Don’t let yourself get bullied accepting an unreasonable consequence from your neighbor’s construction.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

Pre-Existing Injuries and Auto-Accidents

A pre-existing injury is defined as an injury that was incurred prior to an auto-accident or some other incident that causes a subsequent injury.  The result of the accident can either cause further damage to the pre-existing injury or create a new injury altogether.  So, what does this mean if you are in an automobile accident, get hurt, but have a pre-existing injury?

First, if the accident causes further injury to the pre-existing condition, you can recover damage for any exacerbation (increase in damage/pain) of the pre-existing condition.  Alternatively, if the accident causes a new injury that does not involve the pre-existing condition, then the pre-existing condition should not be relevant at all or to the amount of damage you are entitled to. Insurance companies thrive on attempting to limit the monetary damages an injured client can recover by claiming that the pre-existing condition/injuries existed before the accident.

An experienced personal injury attorney can make the difference in defeating the insurance company’s assertions that your injury is worthless because it was already there. Mackey Law Group knows how to get what a client is entitled to.

By: Kyle Stalnaker, Esq.

Cash, Gift, or Secret Loan?

Buying a home is for many, one of the most expensive purchases a family will ever make. Thankfully, many have friends and family who are willing to help finance this first purchase, usually for the down payment on the home. These types of funds are called “gift funds” and are not intended to be repaid. Gift funds allow young families the opportunity to purchase a home with the help of their family or in-laws.

Unfortunately, relationships can sour. What happens if those you once considered your friends and family demand their money back months or years down the line? What do you do now that your former friends or in-laws are suing you, claiming the money they gave was not a gift, but a loan meant to be paid back? You hire an attorney; don’t allow yourself to be threatened and bullied into paying back money you don’t owe.

Situations like this are all too familiar to us here at Mackey Law Group. They usually come up in divorce proceedings when one spouse’s in-laws want their “money back” from the son/daughter in-law. If you are being threatened by those you once trusted, hire a lawyer who will protect you and defend your rights.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq

I’m the spouse who doesn’t work; how can I pay to get divorced?

Many clients (usually women who are raising/have raised the kids) do not have their own money and their spouse has excluded them from access to any marital funds/assets. So, the non-breadwinner spouse finds herself in a bad spot: How does she have the funds to get the divorce which she must have? How does she make sure that she has an equal chance?

Unless the non-breadwinner spouse has few thousand dollars, she will unfortunately not be able to start the divorce proceeding. But, if she has a credit card, some cash squirreled away, or she can borrow from a family member,   she can make the initial payment and get the divorce proceeding started. A good divorce lawyer will then not only get the case moving forward; but he/she will immediately make motions for temporary attorney’s fees and temporary spousal support. A good divorce lawyer will also get your motions immediately set for hearing so that you have access to the marital funds/assets and can afford represent herself. A side note: if the breadwinner spouse is transferring-out/hiding money and other marital assets, there are laws prohibiting such and good divorce lawyer can force the reversal of those transactions. In other words, there are many ways to stop the spouse with all the money from financially strangling the non-breadwinner spouse.

You do not have to feel trapped in a marriage. The court has the power to award temporary funds to the non-breadwinner spouse so that she is able to both support herself and pay for a good lawyer; she must be litigating on a level playing field.  The key is to hire a lawyer who not only knows the law; but, knows how to navigate your case quickly through the court’s docket and procure results. And don’t forget to ask: Do you actually try cases?

At Mackey Law Group, we have accomplished all of the above many times and we are experienced trial lawyers. Most importantly, once we get our clients on a level playing field with the opponent, we excel.  So, if you find yourself in such a “spot”, callus. We know how to level the playing field and how to handle bullies.

By: Drew Chesanek, Esq.


Florida’s Homestead Property Tax Exemption

Florida provides broad protection for homeowners via its homestead exemption laws.  There are three general types of homestead exemptions under Florida law:

  • Exemption from forced sale before and at death to meet the demands
  • of creditors;
  • Protection for spouses against the sale of the homestead without their joinder and protection for spouses and minor children against the devise of the homestead upon death in a will; and
  • The homestead tax exemption.

This post focuses on the basic tax exemption aspect of Florida’s homestead law.  If you have a permanent residence in Florida, you are likely entitled to the homestead property tax exemption. Your permanent residence is considered to be where you reside 6 months or more out of the year and you can only have ONE Homestead residence.

The real estate taxes that you pay annually are based on your county’s “assessed value” of your property and the homestead property tax exemption operates by reducing this assessed value. Currently eligible homeowners may receive a reduction of up to $50,000.00 off the assessed value of their homestead! Be cautious, however; you must take the necessary steps to classify your property as your homestead prior to March 1st of the year in which you will be taxed. You must also own the property on January 1st of that year. Do not assume your closing agent does this for you if you purchase a new residence.

Contact your local County Property Appraiser for more information on how to apply for homestead designation. Manatee County residents can follow this link for a 2018 homestead exemption packet:


This article presents only the most basic information concerning the tax exemption, but there are many aspects and benefits concerning Florida’s homestead protection.  For more information, contact our office.

By: T.R. Smith, Esq.

Personal Injury: The Million Dollar Difference Could be Getting a Second Opinion

“Show me the money!” When a lawyer evaluates a personal injury case for an injured client a point of emphasis is always where the money will come from to compensate the injured party.  Often times, the source is an insurance policy.  However, what if the injury/accident, or even a death, occurred at work? In Florida, there is a limitation cap on the monetary amount that a person killed at work can obtain; it’s part of Florida’s worker’s compensation law.  An attorney may tell a client that this cap is all they can get for their loved ones death, or injury.  Or, you can get a second opinion from another lawyer…

That is exactly what a recent client of Mackey Law Group did when they came to us. The client’s family, whose mother died at a workplace accident, was told by numerous attorneys in the area that the most they (the survivors) could collect from their mother’s death was the worker’s compensation cap of $150,000.00.  Mackey Law Group was contacted for a “second opinion.”  Our lawyers found a way around that $150,000.00 limitation. Our second opinion made the difference for the grieving family, as Mackey Law Group procured a settlement in excess of $1.6 million dollars; far in excess of the $150,000 other attorneys had advised was all they could expect.

All attorneys are not created equal.  There are often times thinking outside of the box is required and your attorney should be considering all possible avenues to maximize recovery. Legal tools are available to get around certain limitations; another insurance policy that one attorney couldn’t find may be discovered; or other financial sources may exist to compensate an injured client or a family devastated from the loss of a parent, spouse, or child.

By: Kyle Stalnaker, Esq


In June of 2015, Jim (all names have been changed) was sitting in his office at a well-known business when Sam, a neighbor of Jim’s, walked through the lobby, stuck his head into Jim’s office, and asked him to come outside of the building to speak with him. When Jim walked outside the building front doors, Sam commenced to punch Jim, and continued to do so after Jim hit the ground. An employee ran outside and literally saved Jim. The injuries to Jim were significant. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had a broken nose and fractured orbital socket.

Things then got worse for Jim. Over the next two months, Sam placed professionally-made signs in the Bradenton neighborhood where they both lived (and had minor children), stating that there was a child molester living in their neighborhood and asking people to call a number on the sign that was Sam’s number! Sam also kept spray-painting orange arrows on the pavement in front of Jim’s house. When the HOA president attempted to remove one of the signs at the entrance of the neighborhood, he was confronted later that evening at his house by Sam, who had placed a game-camera in the bushes by the entrance-way sign!

What caused all of the above?

Sam’s minor daughter had apparently been having disciplinary problems and had, the morning of the assault, told Sam’s wife what Jim had improperly touched her years earlier. Absent asking any questions, Sam had taken everything his teenage daughter said at face value. Sam left the house, drove to Jim’s place of employment, and assaulted Jim. Sam then proceeded to place the above-referenced signs and painted arrows. In turn, Jim and his family were mortified. They actually had to move out of the neighborhood to a neighboring town. How could a man possibly defend such unsubstantiated allegations? The worst thing a married man with children could possibly be called is a child-molester!

What happened next?

That’s when Jim came to Mackey Law Group. We gathered all the facts and commenced a civil action against Sam. Mackey Law Group also proceeded to retain one of the best experts in the country as to defending the totally false allegations.

Sam hired a Sarasota lawyer, who was affiliated with a Miami firm. Sam’s lawyer was high-brow and “specialized in child abuse cases”. Sam even counterclaimed on behalf of his daughter against Jim. Sam and his lawyer tried anything they could to legally intimidate Jim and his family. They actually demanded that Jim pay Sam’s family money! Sam’s lawyer was adamant and condescending the whole way through the lawsuit, repeatedly stating things to Mackey Law Group’s lawyers such as: “You have a pedophile on your hands what are y’all going to do?”

But Mackey Law Group’s attorneys believed in our client, navigated the case around the many obstacles put up by Sam’s legal team, and we kept pushing to get to trial on the false accusations and outrageous conduct/battery. Although it was expensive for Jim, he refused to bow-down to such bully-tactics. By the time trial was nearing, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers had even documented the accusing girl’s (Sam’s daughter) story as changing no less than 7 times! Sam’s legal intimidation tactics had not worked.

How was the case resolved?

Finally, when trial was upon the parties, Sam’s lawyer asked for a continuance of the trial, which the Judge refused to do. Then Sam’s lawyer asked for mediation and the Judge granted Sam’s lawyer’s request. At mediation, Mackey Law Group opened the proceeding by literally shocking the other side with its preparation. Our lawyers were on task and put on Jim’s complete case in summary fashion; inclusive of: photographs, police reports, hospital records, and our expert’s analysis that the event referenced by the accusing minor girl never happened. Conversely, Sam and his lawyers appeared to have nothing to fight back with. They actually appeared to be stunned.

As a result, Mackey Law Group got Sam to agree to: (i) pay Jim $175,000 cash; (ii) never disparage Jim again; and (iii) the entry of a no-contact order as to Jim and his entire family for the rest of Sam’s life; he cannot come within 500 feet of Jim’s family. In addition, Mackey Law Group forced Sam to agree that the settlement would not be confidential; that way, Jim could go back to his former neighbors and show them exactly what the result was as to the false accusations and battery by Sam.

The moral of this?

Never back down to bullies. Stand up for yourself when you are in the right. And, when necessary, hire the very best lawyers you know. Justice will prevail.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.

Who will get Custody of my Kids?

When facing divorce, many parents assume the mother will automatically be awarded custody of the children with the father getting limited visitation. Florida courts have done away with this presumption and will now divide time between parents in the child’s best interest. The courts no longer have a presumption as to which parent will automatically get the most time, but look at the facts of each case individually.

Without an attorney, it can be easy for a mother to incorrectly assume she will automatically get sole custody simply for being the mother. On the other side, a father may think it is useless to ask for more time since it is already a done deal that the mother will win custody of their children, not realizing that he could have fought for more.

Child time sharing is but one of the issues a divorce brings, and hiring an attorney to represent you through this process is the best thing you can do for you and your children. Mackey Law Group has represented many parents in divorce proceedings and we can help you through yours.

Jorge Martinez, Esq.