Monday, October 8, 2018

Contractor Fraud on the Rise: What You Need to Know

Contractors in the construction market make up a large portion of the overall employment statistics for the industry. There are more than six million employees who work in construction industry each year across an estimated 650,000 employers, many of which represent themselves as independent contractors. Without construction contractors, many residential and commercial projects would remain unfinished. However, not all contractors in the construction industry are created equal.

In a recent case brought in Washington, D.C., an individual home improvement contractor was found guilty of defrauding customers and avoiding personal and business creditors through misleading statements in bankruptcy court. The case found that the contractor neither had the skills nor the intention to complete the projects he was paid to do, leaving homeowners with significant financial loss. More and more of these cases are brought to light, even for contractors with the right licensing and bonding requirements in place. As contractor fraud continues to rise, it is important for homeowners to recognize the common types of fraud and warning signs.

Common Types of Fraud

Construction contractor fraud comes in many forms which makes it difficult to spot from the start. However, the most common types of fraud include the following:

Fraudulent billing schemes – some contractors make up payments to suppliers and vendors on paper and pocket the funds, while others charge an excessive amount for materials or equipment.

Theft – contractor theft can be costly and it is fairly common in the industry. Contractors can take materials and supplies paid for by the customer that are difficult to track down or to recoup after the fact.

Equipment use – tools, construction equipment, and vehicles may all be abused or used for personal gain instead of the job at hand, leading to higher costs over time.

Any combination of these common fraud types may be a challenge to see as a project progresses. This makes it difficult for homeowners and small businesses to know that they are being taken advantage of until after the work is completed. The worst types of fraud involve a contractor promising to complete a job but instead, taking the deposit/payment and never looking back. Individuals in need of a construction contractor can look to the possible warning signs below to help protect against fraud.

Warning Signs

Construction contractors who ask for a large upfront payment, in full, should signal a red flag for homeowners and business owners. In many cases, receiving full payment for a new project gives little to no incentive for bad actors to come back and complete the job, and if they do, it may not be up to building standards. In addition to receiving large upfront payments, contractors without the appropriate licensing through the state or county, or the right type of surety bond in place should not be hired for a project. Surety bonds are required for nearly many large construction contracts, and the price paid for having this peace of mind in place is minimal for most. Contractors who are unwilling to provide these details should not be trusted.

Additionally, contractors who do not present the customer with a written contract to sign before starting a new project may require more review. A contract helps protect both the customer and the contractor, and without one, there is no proof that a job was agreed upon or what the project actually entails. Finally, contractors who fail to provide references from satisfied customers or those who have little to no online presence or business location may not be trustworthy.

Protecting Your Investment

Homeowners and business owners can take certain steps to protect their investment in a construction contractor, starting with understanding common fraud types and the warning signs mentioned above. A contractor should be willing and able to provide documentation of licensing, bonding, and insurance, as well as references from past customers or online reviews. If these items are not readily available, check with the state or county’s licensing board to see if a contractor is listed. If he or she is nowhere to be found, or represents they have a license when they do not, may mean there is no intention of completing the work requested.

Take care to select a contractor that checks the right boxes before making any  payment, and keep an eye on the progression of work as agreed upon in the contract. These small actions can make a significant difference in getting a construction job done correctly and in-budget.

Author: Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.  


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Palm Beach Post one-sided attack on title insurance continues

       In an article nominally addressing the possible merger of two large title companies (https://tinyurl.com/yd5p3ew7 April 14, 2018) the post took the opportunity to again lambaste the cost of title insurance.  here is my letter to the editor which the Post has so far refused to run:


Dear Editor:

          I read with dismay Craig Elmore’s piece in April 14, 2018 Post about the merger between Fidelity National Financial and Stewart Title.  Instead of addressing the issues that the merger may cause, the main thrust of the article is to lambast the cost of title insurance in a one-sided rant replete with mistakes and misstatements.

          First Elmore claims it is, “It’s a kind of insurance designed to defend and compensate buyers and lenders in case of challenges to the title ownership, involving records that show who has rightful legal claim to the property.”  That is only one thing title insurance insures for under the policy.  It also provides coverage for unpaid liens, assessments, missed mortgages and mistakes (deeds with missing witnesses, errors in abstracting, etc.).  Also, title insurance does not simply wait for challenges but will affirmatively take action to fix issues when discovered by either filing suit or paying compensation.

          Elmore also states that shopping around is fruitless because no simple task to locate dramatic price differences, as title insurers wearing a whole raft of different brand names operate in a handful of corporate “families,” implying that underwriter’s set prices for title premiums.  This is simply false in Florida.  Prices are set by the Florida Department of Insurance, and these fixed premiums have fallen over 30% against inflation in the last 25 years.  Local title agents will compete on price and may Realtor shop closings to save their customers hundreds of dollars.

          Premiums are rising because the economy is doing better plus prices have recovered from there dramatic drops, not because the costs of coverage has increased.  In fact premiums have not increased at all since 2011 (or in fact since 1994 in Florida).

          Comparing loss ratios for title insurance to casualty insurance is also without merit.  Buy a home and pay a one-time title premium for lifetime coverage, or pay more than that per year to cover casualty insurance.  They are simply not equivalent coverages.

          The claim of the CFA about “huge kickbacks, expensive gifts, and other inducements from the insurers to real estate professionals” is simply not true for the most part.  These activities are illegal in residential real estate with federally insured loans, and has had no effect or premiums to “raise the price of title insurance to “absurdly high levels.” 

          Elmore’s last fallback is to tout Iowa’s low costs for coverage.  What he fails to state is that Iowa has a government run not-for-profit company that issues policies.  I am sure if Florida took over FP&L and ran it as a not for profit, our electric bills would be cheaper too.  What Elmore fails to mention is that if losses exceed revenue, the taxpayers of Iowa must cover the difference.  He also fails to mention that to get that cheap $110 policy, one must hire an abstracter to abstract title and an attorney to issue a title opinion.  Abstracts in Iowa costs about $350 and up, (versus $75-125 in Florida) and title opinions prices vary by attorney.

          This is the second time the Post has run a one-sided article about title insurance.  This type of coverage belongs in the editorial section, not as unbiased business news reporting.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Home Title Lock/Property Fraud

     If you listen to the radio you probably have heard an ominous radio advertisement about thieves taking title to your home, refinancing the mortgage and leaving you to suffer when the mortgage is not paid, resulting in you being served as the unknown tenant in the bank’s foreclosure.  The advertisement then offers to protect you by monitoring your property title for only $9.99 per month.  Their tag line is “Title Insurance Doesn't Protect You and Neither Does Your Bank or Identity Theft Protection. HOME TITLE LOCK DOES!”

     According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States. The threat described above is real and I have been involved in property fraud cases in the past.  These usually involved sophisticated parties with knowledge of deeds, recordings and the like, and the willingness to steal notary seals and alter corporate records.  The game has now changed due to online records and images, high quality printers and e-recording.  My most recent property theft case was against a lender who had foreclosed a property in 2014 that sat vacant for two years.  Thieves simply created a deed template, used Photoshop to insert a real signatures and notary stamp from prior recorded deeds in New Jersey on the Florida forgery, added a few fake unintelligible witnesses and then slipped a clerk at a title company a few dollars to e-record the deed. 

     The thieves used a fake title company name as the deed preparer, and a fake trust name as the new owner, without naming an actual Trustee (which is required to have a valid grantee/buyer in Florida as Trusts alone cannot hold title under Florida law).  Since the property had been foreclosed, it was free and clear of liens and mortgages, and the deed forger could have easily obtained a loan secured by the property.  Alternatively, and the more common criminal act, is the deed forger uses the deed to take physical control of the property, acting as landlord to rent the home while its true owner thinks it is vacant, waiting for a future sale.

    The forgery was discovered by the new owner who purchased the house days after the forged deed was recorded.  She was denied homestead, made a claim on her title policy and we successfully filed suit to quiet title.  The cost was paid by the title company because the forged deed was recorded before her insured deed.  However, if this happens to you after your deed is recorded, your title insurance owner’s policy will not insure the title claim, forcing you to have to cover the cost of any lawsuit to correct the defect.
   
   Home Title Lock is a for profit company that claims to protect your title for only $9.99 per month.  Essentially they monitor the title to you property by searching public records for any changes, such as any newly filed deeds, mortgages or liens.  They claim that they use “proprietary technology (that) forms a virtual perimeter around your home and property title.”  If an instrument is recorded, they claim they “ALERT you immediately with key information such as names involved with the transaction, the amount of loan, date of such loan, (and sic) document name.”  They also claim that if a detected activity is not authorized to “mobilize all our resources to help you shut it down - FAST!”  However, the website provides no documentation on this last element, which would normally require local legal assistance and a high legal cost. 

    Alternatively you have two other free options that you can use to protect the title to your property.  The easiest approach is to simply act as your own monitor of title by searching the public records to see if any changes have occurred.  All counties in Florida maintain a name index which is accessible online (Using www.tinyurl as a prefix: Palm Beach: qejqo; Broward: ycmj9fce; and Miami-Dade: ybzr6xds).  Simply search your name to determine if anyone has tried to file a deed or lien using your name as a forgery.  A ninety day search of my own name showed a deed, notice and mortgage (but not any of my own property), so no issues.
         
   An alternative offered by some County Clerks of Court is a Property Fraud Alert registry.  Palm Beach County (tinyurl.com/ya9m766b) allows owners to register to receive free alerts when a document such as a deed or mortgage is recorded with the clerk using your name or business name.  Sign-up is a one page application that simply requests your name and whether you wish to be contacted by phone or email. 

  Being vigilant regarding your most valuable possession is the only way to protect yourself from this growing problem.  Monitor your title, register for fraud alerts, petition your local county to offer this service if not yet available, and take quick action if anything is recorded.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and in this battle, that is the real key.

Michael J Posner, Esq., is a partner in Ward Damon a mid-sized real estate and business oriented law firm serving all of South Florida, with offices in Palm Beach County.  They specialize in real estate and can assist owners in addressing title fraud issues.  They can be reached at 561.594.1452, or at mjposner@warddamon.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Termination of Condominiums (Bulk Owner)

Many condominiums in Florida have been subject to bulk buy-outs, either due to poor sales from the great recession or, in the case of older buildings, due to an aging ownership, high special assessments or major future repairs (roof or concrete restoration).  This issue has led the Florida legislature to recognize that, in certain circumstances, continued operation of a condominium “may create economic waste and areas of disrepair which threaten the safety and welfare of the public or cause obsolescence of the property for its intended use and thereby lower property tax values.”

To address this issue, the Florida legislature amended Florida Statute Section 718.117 to create a termination procedure outside the Declaration of Condominium process which generally requires unanimous approval of all owners in order to terminate the condominium under existing condominium documents.  Specifically, the termination under this new section is “not an amendment subject to Florida Statute Section 718.110(4)” which sets forth that “no amendment may change the configuration or size of any unit in any material fashion, materially alter or modify the appurtenances to the unit, or change the proportion or percentage by which the unit owner shares the common expenses of the condominium and owns the common surplus of the condominium unless the record owner of the unit and all record owners of liens on the unit join in the execution of the amendment and unless all the record owners of all other units in the same condominium approve the amendment.”
The procedure often raised by bulk owners is known as an Optional Termination.  Specifically, this type of termination may be initiated pursuant to a Plan of Termination of the Condominium as follows:
1.     Must be approved by at least eight (80%) percent of Unit Owners.
2.    If proposed by a Bulk Owner (an owner who directly or through affiliates controls 80% or more of the voting units), then, in addition, the following requirements:
            a.     Payment to owners of “at least 100 percent of the fair market value of their units.”
            b.        “Provide for payment of a first mortgage encumbering a unit to the extent necessary to satisfy the lien, but the payment may not exceed the unit’s share of the proceeds of termination under the plan.”
            c.       Include special notice within any proposed Plan that states:   
                       i. “The identity of any person or entity that owns or controls 25 percent or more of the units in the condominium and, if the units are owned by an artificial entity or entities, a disclosure of the natural person or persons who, directly or indirectly, manage or control the entity or entities and the natural person or persons who, directly or indirectly, own or control 10 percent or more of the artificial entity or entities that constitute the bulk owner.
                       ii. The units acquired by any bulk owner, the date each unit was acquired, and the total amount of compensation paid to each prior unit owner by the bulk owner, regardless of whether attributed to the purchase price of the unit.
                       iii. The relationship of any board member to the bulk owner or any person or entity affiliated with the bulk owner subject to disclosure pursuant to this subparagraph.
                       iv. The factual circumstances that show that the plan complies with the requirements of this section and that the plan supports the expressed public policies of this section.
Once the Plan of Termination is presented to the owners, it must be approved by Bureau of Condominium within forty-five days of presentation.  If no owners object (see below) and the division approves the Plan (or if no approval, no rejection with forty-five days) then the termination may proceed as outlined within the Plan.
Once the Plan is presented to owners, should five (5%) percent or more of the total voting interests of the condominium reject the plan of termination by negative vote or by written objection, the plan of termination may not proceed.  In addition, if rejected by the required voting percentage, “a subsequent plan of termination pursuant to this subsection may not be considered for 24 months after the date of the rejection.”
By way of example, if a condominium consists of one hundred units, then it would require the holder of not less than eighty units to vote to proceed with a plan of termination, and five or more-unit owners reject such plan, then termination will not be permitted.  All such rejections should be made in writing and if the plan has been submitted to the Bureau of Condominium, that the written objection be filed therewith.
With the continuing strength in the rental market and the ongoing failures at many condominiums, termination and conversion thereafter into apartments will continue to be a viable process for distressed condominiums and their owners.
Michael Posner, Esq., is a partner in Ward Damon a mid-sized real estate and business oriented law firm serving all of South Florida, with offices in Palm Beach County.  They specialize in real estate and can assist associations in all legal matters including bulk termination. They can be reached at 561.594.1452, or at mjposner@warddamon.com
            

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What Lawyers Do, a Specialization Guide

          Two things struck me this week regarding my profession. First, my son is trying to decide what type of lawyer he wants to be when he graduates from law school next spring. Second, while binge watching Better Call Saul, I was struck by Saul’s attempt to label himself an Elder Law Attorney simply by drafting a few wills.  Putting aside that a lawyer who drafts wills is considered a Trust and Estates attorney, not an Elder Law attorney, I began to think about all the areas of practice in which we, as lawyers, specialize which, in many ways, are unknown to the public who think lawyers, know or should know, all areas of the law.

          There are two main branches of practice, commonly divided between trial attorneys and transactional attorneys. Historically, and in actual practice in some countries, the trial attorneys were known as barristers. These attorneys present all cases in court at the direction of solicitors who handle the actual day-to-day practice of law and who handle all client relations. In many cases, the barrister receives the trial materials merely a day or two before the trial, presenting the case prepared by the solicitor. Barristers were forbidden to meet with clients or to even form partnerships with other barristers. However, many barristers banded together in groups called chambers in which they could share resources, office space and clerks.

          In the United Kingdom for example, barristers are still the most common trial attorneys though the fusion of practice between barristers and certain solicitors is continuing to expand in the United Kingdom. Barristers still wear horsehair wigs, stiff collars, bands, and a gown when appearing in court in the United Kingdom. 

          In the United States, the separation of barristers and solicitors has been eliminated and anyone who is licensed as an attorney may appear in any state court in which they are licensed. However, appearances in federal court still require an application, and in some cases also require the taking of a test. In many jurisdictions, including federal, admission to the appellate bar also requires an application and in some cases an examination. Admissions to the Federal Bankruptcy Bar requires both admission to the federal District Court for the applicable bankruptcy court, and passage of an examination and a minimum of continuing legal education credits. Admission to the United States Patent and Trademark bar requires passage of a very difficult exam and a scientific or engineering undergraduate degree.

          Most lawyers today have a jurist doctorate degree issued by one of the United States’ one-hundred fifty plus accredited law schools. Many law schools also now offer certificates to their students, which allows a student to “major” in a specific area of law while in law school. These programs require the students to take a specific coursework in their “major,” and also to take one or two additional classes beyond the normal number required to graduate. Some programs also require maintaining a minimum GPA in the specialized area. Upon graduation, the student receives a separate certificate indicating the completion of the specialized coursework program.

          In addition, there is also post-law school graduate work for further specialization. The most common is the Masters in Law in Tax, commonly known as the LLM degree. Many tax attorneys practicing today hold this graduate degree.   Other LLM’s are available today including LLMs in international, real estate, health or environmental law.

          On television, lawyers appear to handle a variety of legal matters including criminal and civil, transactional and litigation. While there still are some lawyers who handle a wide variety of cases, most lawyers specialize in a limited area of law. In litigation, there are lawyers who specialize in criminal cases, family law cases, commercial litigation, or civil litigation. Transactional lawyers also specialize, including areas such as real estate, corporate, intellectual property, licensing, sports law and other areas.

          In Florida, lawyers who specialize in a specific area may, after practicing five years, stand for one of the many certification exams offered by the Florida Bar. These exams, when passed, allow a lawyer to state that they are Board Certified in that specific area.   There are currently twenty-six areas of law for which lawyers may become Board Certified. This list continues to grow and includes both litigation and transactional areas of law. 

          Armed with this knowledge, it makes it easier for you to properly select a lawyer to represent you in whatever matter your legal needs require. Choosing the correct lawyer is the first step to resolving your legal needs, and selecting someone who is not qualified to handle your case can lead to poor representation and an unhappy outcome.


Michael J Posner, Esq., is a partner in Ward Damon a mid-sized real estate and business oriented law firm with offices in Palm Beach County and a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney who handles a variety of real estate matters throughout South Florida.  He can be reached at 561.594.1452, or at mjposner@warddamon.com

Saturday, March 11, 2017

President Trump and Real Estate

   Many people believe that Trump will be good for business and real estate, due to his career which was heavily involved in commercial and real estate.  This is yet to be seen, but right out of the gate Trump had an effect on the real estate market by his issuance of his first Executive Order on inauguration day.

          The issue in question was the action by President Obama, in the waning days of his administration, to reduce the premium for mortgage insurance on mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  These loans are usually financed with only three to five percent down, and as such, require mortgage insurance to cover the possibility of a deficiency upon default due to the limited amount of equity in the property.

          The mortgage insurance premium is a monthly fee tied to the loan size, loan term and includes an upfront premium of 1.75% of the loan amount and between 45 and 105 basis points (0.45% to 1.05%) annually on the loan balance, paid in monthly installments with the principal and interest payments.

          Earlier in January, 2017, President Obama directed a 25-basis point (0.25%) cut in the premium which was estimated to save consumers, on average, at least $25.00 per month.  This decision was based, in part, on the belief that the funds that insure these mortgages have sufficient reserves to allow for a premium reduction. However, only four years ago, taxpayers funded a 1.7-billion-dollar bailout of the FHA to fund shortfalls in the insurance fund due to a large number of loan defaults.

          In response to the action by the outgoing President, Trump issued an Executive Order cancelling the reduction.  This action was taken, in part, as a reaction to the Obama administration adopting new policies as it prepared to leave office, but was also taken due to the concern that a premium reduction puts taxpayers at risk due to decrease in the insurance funds available to the FHA to cover defaults.

          Another issue on President Trumps agenda is reducing or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction. Currently married homeowners who itemize their taxes can deduct interest on mortgages of up to one million dollars ($500,000 for single persons).  The deduction is supported by Realtors, home builders and bankers who use it as a selling point to potential home buyers.

          However, the number of home owners who itemize is not as popular as some believe.  At least a third of homeowners have no mortgage, and many lower and middle income homeowners do not itemize their taxes, losing any potential deduction from the interest that they pay on their mortgage.   The Tax Policy Center states that the mortgage interest deduction mostly benefits wealthier Americans.  “Instead of turning renters into homeowners, homeownership tax expenditures encourage middle- and upper-income individuals to purchase more expensive homes, take on more debt, or buy second homes.”

          Trump’s plan is to cap total available deductions at $100,000.  This cap will only affect the wealthiest, since even on a $500,000-dollar loan at five percent, the total interest deduction in year one of the loan would be $25,000.  However, when you consider other deductions that come into play such as property taxes, charity, medical expenses and the like, the cap will affect some homeowners, especially wealthier homeowners who now have deductions that far exceed $100,000.

          The National Association of Realtors will strongly oppose any measure to reduce the mortgage interest rate deduction, as they believe that this will impact home ownership.  With ownership levels continuing to fall, the President of NAR has said that NAR is “adamant about protecting tax deductions for residential mortgage interest and property taxes—for primary and secondary homes.”


          Michael J Posner, Esq., is a partner in Ward Damon a mid-sized real estate and business oriented law firm serving all of South Florida, with offices in Palm Beach County.  They can be reached at 561.594.1452, or at mjposner@warddamon.com

Binding Arbitration (The Wells Fargo Dilemma)

     Wells Fargo Bank was recently caught opening thousands of unwanted accounts, resulting in millions of fees charged to unsuspecting customers.  After an investigation, Wells admitted its failures and has promised to make things right by its customers.  Since then a number of class action lawsuits have been filed, and Wells has, to-date, successfully stopped the lawsuits, invoking the arbitration clause of the standard Wells Fargo bank account contract, as follows:

You and Wells Fargo Financial National Bank (the “Bank”), including the Bank’s assignees, agents, employees, officers, directors, shareholders, parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, predecessors and successors, agree that if a Dispute (as defined below) arises between you and the Bank, upon demand by either you or the Bank, the Dispute shall be resolved by the following arbitration process. However, the Bank shall not initiate an arbitration to collect a consumer debt, but reserves the right to arbitrate all other disputes with its consumer customers. A “Dispute” is any unresolved disagreement between you and the Bank. It includes any disagreement relating in any way to your Credit Card Account (“Account”) or related services. It includes claims based on broken promises or contracts, torts, or other wrongful actions. It also includes statutory, common law and equitable claims. A Dispute also includes any disagreements about the meaning or application of this Arbitration Agreement. This Arbitration Agreement shall survive the payment or closure of your Account. You understand and agree that you and the Bank are waiving the right to a jury trial or trial before a judge in a public court. As the sole exception to this Arbitration Agreement, you and the Bank retain the right to pursue in small claims court any Dispute that is within that court’s jurisdiction. If either you or the Bank fails to submit to binding arbitration following lawful demand, the party so failing bears all costs and expenses incurred by the other in compelling arbitration.

Many consumers and lawyers have fought the use of this provision.  They argue that it unfair due to the cost, privacy, the possible bias of arbitrators and, most importantly, the inability to bring a class action lawsuit (which allows one case to be brought by many consumers who have similar claims).  Instead, the arbitration cases must be brought against the bank one at a time.  Wells argues that the parties agreed to these terms when the accounts were opened. However, lawyers have argued that since the fake accounts were never agreed to by the consumer, the terms of the standard contract they signed to open prior, legitimate accounts, does not apply.  So far Wells has been successful in moving lawsuits to arbitration.  Eventually the issue may be decided by an appellate court, but for now, consumers need to be aware of these clauses in their dealings with large corporations.

While arbitration is generally binding on the parties, mediation is another method of resolving disputes prior to court or trial.  Mediation is non-binding, which means that the mediator cannot rule on the case, and if the parties do not agree to a settlement, the matter continues to litigation.  Mediation either occurs through contract, a pre-suit statutory requirement, or by court order (which occurs in almost all civil cases today).

For example, in the most common real estate contract used in South Florida, all disputes under the contract must be settled by mediation prior to any lawsuit being instituted:

Buyer and Seller shall attempt to settle Disputes in an amicable manner through mediation pursuant to Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators and Chapter 44, F.S., as amended (the "Mediation Rules").  The mediator must be certified or must have experience in the real estate industry. Injunctive relief may be sought without first complying with this Paragraph 16(b). Disputes not settled pursuant to this Paragraph 16 may be resolved by instituting action in the appropriate court having jurisdiction of the matter

In Homeowner Association disputes, matters may be resolved by either pre-suit mediation or binding arbitration, depending on the nature of the dispute.  Disputes regarding condominium associations can be subject to mandatory nonbinding arbitration depending on the nature of the claim.  This special type of arbitration results in a final decision of the arbitrator, but is subject to all regular appellate rules, making the ability to appeal the arbitration decision no different than a decision by a trial court.

In and of itself, arbitration, as a method to resolve disputes, is not better or worse than court.  It is often faster and cheaper than litigation, and many people prefer the privacy that a public trial does not provide.  It also offers more finality, as the grounds for a trial court appeal do not apply, though under certain limited circumstances, the arbitration decision can be appealed. 


Michael J Posner, Esq., is a partner in Ward Damon a mid-sized real estate and business oriented law firm serving all of South Florida, with offices in Palm Beach County.  They can be reached at 561.594.1452, or at mjposner@warddamon.com