Paul O. Lopez, a director for Tripp Scott, has served as the law firm’s chief operating officer since 2017, and has chaired the firm's Litigation Department since 2010.
Mr. Lopez has a national litigation and trial practice and regularly argues before federal and state courts on behalf of his various nationwide and local clients. Some professional recognition and highlights include:
• Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission 2019-present (appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as a Florida Bar Appointee)
• Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission 2014-2018 (appointed by Gov. Rick Scott as a Florida Bar Appointee)
• Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission 2001-2010 (Chairperson 2007-08) (Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Charlie Crist Appointee)
• Commissioner 17th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission 1999-2001 (Gov. Jeb Bush Appointee)
• Florida Business & Wealth, Leaders in the Law and selected as Lawyer of the Year in the category of Labor & Employment (2015)
• South Florida Legal Guide Top Lawyers in Florida in Business Litigation and Employment and Labor Law (2009-present)
• Florida Super Lawyers, Selected for Inclusion in categories of Business Litigation and Employment and Labor Law (2006-present)
• Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite, Selected for Inclusion in Labor & Employment law (multiple years)
• Executive Committee and Board Member of the Broward County Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (Treasurer, Vice-President, President-Elect and President (2010-11)
He has successfully litigated and tried numerous high-exposure jury and non-jury trials in both federal and state court throughout his career and has developed a reputation for being one of South Florida’s best trial lawyers and litigators. He has tried a wide variety of cases throughout his career for some of South Florida's largest companies and employers such as ADT Security Services, Clear Channel Communications, the South Florida Water Management District and a host of other regional companies. Further, he has developed an expertise by way of his experience handling trials involving disputes between members and shareholders of corporations under Ch. 605 and Ch. 607 of the Florida Statutes including, but not limited to, prominent law firms in the South Florida community. A significant part of his practice also focuses on defending companies and investigating companies for claims for sexual harassment and race discrimination in the workplace, violations of the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. He has handled over hundred cases involving the enforcement or defense of non-compete agreements under Florida’s Non-Compete Statute 542.335 and the disclosure of trade secrets under Florida's Trade Secret Act and its federal counterpart. Paul is likely one of the only lawyers in South Florida who has successfully litigated and tried cases involving violations of the Federal and Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Additionally, he has vast experience handling cases involvingFlorida’s Private and Public Whistle Blower Acts, business partnership disputes, breach of licensing and royalty agreements, fraudulent misrepresentation, intellectual property disputes under the Federal Lanham Act. . He has successfully defended a number of class actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and in connection with Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act on behalf of various clients. He has handled scores of evidentiary hearings for his clients to successfully secure or defend against the entry of preliminary injunctions in various business and employment disputes. Often times, companies retain him on the eve of trial to serve as lead counsel when the facts of a case are extremely challenging and the exposure is significant. Lopez prides himself on his track record before judges and juries and his ability to take a complex set of facts and make them understandable to judges and juries in order secure a just verdict or result for his clients.
Additionally, judges seek his counsel and involvement in particularly complex cases by appointing him to serve as a Special Master to oversee discovery and to assist the court with various other pre-trial motions in these cases. Lopez is a Supreme Court Certified Mediator and Qualified Arbitrator. In that regard, Judges have appointed him to serve as an arbitrator in over a hundred cases throughout his career and routinely appoint him to serve as a mediator in difficult cases.
Having over 25 years of experience litigating business and employment disputes, Paul also uses these skills to draft and negotiate various agreements for his clients, including vendor and licensing agreements and agreements between companies and their employees. He routinely negotiates and drafts high-level executive compensation and severance packages and reviews and edits his clients’ written employment policies and handbooks.
His clients seek his counsel and experience many times prior to implementing layoffs in the workplace to seek his opinion and advice regarding their potential exposure when terminating employees who fall into certain protected classes. Lopez also frequently provides training to his corporate clients in the areas of pre-suit dispute resolution, workplace anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. He also lectures and writes prolifically in these areas.
His clients range from Fortune 500 companies such as Covidien, ADT Security Services, Clear Channel Communications, AutoNation, Enterprise Fleet Leasing, Inc., to governmental entities such as the South Florida Water Management District, to mid-sized regional companies with revenues between $25 to $500 million dollars and high-net worth individuals and entrepreneurs.
Commercial Litigation and Employment Litigation Experience (Highlights)
Secured one of the first recorded civil jury verdicts under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in the United Stated District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of two New York Limited Partnerships after two and-a-half years of litigation against several defendants. After a two-week jury trial, the jury found that each of the approximately 30 predicate acts of either wire or mail fraud was proven by Paul and his team and found the defendants liable for $30-million dollars in damages, plus attorney’s fees and costs. The verdict was one of the Top 100 verdicts in the United States in 2016.
In the same case mentioned above, Paul and his team obtained nationwide temporary and preliminary injunction against various individual and corporate defendants after lengthy evidentiary hearings in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida within days of filing lawsuit on behalf of two New York Limited Partnerships which owned over $50 million dollars worth of real estate in the United States pursuant to Federal Civil RICO statutes where the court made specific findings of fact in favor of Paul’s clients. After the injunction was issued, Paul and his team learned that one of the defendants violated the injunction and, as a result, they successfully obtained a contempt judgment against the defendant and the other party by proving through clear and convincing evidence that they had violated the injunction. A contempt judgment close to $500k was entered as a result of the proceedings.
In 2020, Paul and his team successfully won at trial in a dissolution case under Ch. 605 (Florida's LLC statute) involving a mass tort/tobacco litigation personal injury law firm. Paul represented one of the 50% members of the law firm who opposed the dissolution of the law firm and, rather, elected to purchase and redeem the other member's interest under Florida's LLC statute. At trial, Paul and his team won by convincing the trial court that the other member's interest in the law firm should be valued at $0.00 instead of the $70 million dollars sought by the other side since the law firm's portfolio of cases could not be considered assets of the law firm for purposes of valuation under Ch. 605. This was a hotly contested case on all levels and, importantly, a case of first impression in the State of Florida. Critical to the Court's ruling was that Paul and his team convinced the trial court that the proper way to deal with the cases was a fee-split arrangement consistent with the progeny of Frates v. Nichols, 167 So.2d 77 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1964). The case ultimately settled under favorable terms for Paul's client.
In 2021, after over six years of litigation, Paul and his team won at trial and successfully obtained a defense verdict on all counts for his client in another dissolution case under Ch. 605 (Florida's LLC statute) where the Plaintiff made claims against Paul's client alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, civil theft, self-dealing, constructive trust, unjust enrichment, bank fraud and host of other claims. Not only did Paul and his team obtain a full defense verdict on all of Plaintiff's claims against his client, but they convinced the trial court to adopt the valuation formula used by his team of experts to buy out the other member of the LLC for a substantially discounted amount pursuant to the election to purchase statute under Florida's LLC statute.
In 2019, Paul and his team successfully established personal jurisdiction over a national bank challenging personal jurisdiction in the State of Florida on constitutional grounds after cross-examining key bank officials at an evidentiary hearing, and establishing that their affidavits were materially inconsistent with the true facts of the case. The ruling was critical to maintain the litigation against the national bank in South Florida.
In 2019, Paul successfully argued against the entry of a temporary restraining order in federal court in Delaware on behalf of one of his national clients after only having gotten less than 24-hours’ notice of the proceedings in federal court. Paul and his team quickly analyzed the legal arguments and affidavits filed by the opposing side in support of a temporary restraining order seeking to re-gain access to Paul’s client’s computer systems based on the parties’ relationships. He convinced the federal judge that there was no legal basis for the entry of a temporary restraining order given the nature of the parties’ contractual rights and the fact that the opposing side could be made whole with monetary damages in the event they were successfully in prosecuting a breach of contract claim (which Paul and his team steadfastly disputed).
In 2018, Paul and co-counsel secured a complete defense verdict in a multi-million dollar dispute in the Broward County Complex Business Litigation Unit on behalf of a 50% shareholder in litigation that spanned several years. The key challenge in the case was convincing the Court that a shareholders agreement that expressly prohibited oral modifications and amendments was indeed modified by the parties through their course of conduct and their actions. Paul and his co-counsel demonstrated that all required elements were met to enforce the modifications between the parties and that the Plaintiff had no standing to make any claims for millions of dollars in assets that were in the name of the corporation. Post-trial, all costs were awarded to Paul’s client as the prevailing party.
After four years of litigation in a state court proceeding in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court Complex Business Litigation Unit, between competing factions of members (shareholders) vying for control of a technology company, Paul and his team orchestrated a buy-out of dissenting members over their strenuous objections pursuant to Ch. 605 of Florida’s LLC laws and Ch. 608 of Florida’s corporate statutes. The buy-out was for a value significantly lower than what the dissenting members wanted, but it was consistent with the appraisals that Paul’s clients believed were the true measure of the fair price for the members’ interests. The Court agreed that the buy-out (instead of a dissolution) was the most practical way to resolve all of the deadlock issues that existed and continued to arise between the members year after year in connection with the company’s operations.
Paul obtained a dismissal with prejudice of a lawsuit against his investor client after a local restaurant chain, to which the client had loaned money to, tried unsuccessfully on three occasions to improperly invoke a buy-sell provision of the operating agreement that governed the parties’ relationship. The local restaurant chain filed an initial complaint, an amended complaint and a first amended complaint and, each time, the Court dismissed the lawsuit, ultimately dismissing it with prejudice which is rare and highly unusual in state court practice. Paul’s client will now be moving to recoup his attorney’s fees and costs in that matter. Moreover, the dismissal with prejudice paves the way to allow Paul’s client to now buy out the other shareholders by properly invoking the buy-sell provision of the operating agreement.
He successfully obtained a summary judgment on behalf of Bermuda and Cayman investment fund companies against former consultant who sued Paul’s clients in Broward County state court and in FINRA proceeding under multiple theories of recovery based on alleged employment contract. At the end of the case, Paul secured a judgment against the former consultant pursuant to Section 57.105 of the Florida Statutes due to the frivolous nature of some of the proceedings and, when the consultant sought to discharge the judgment in bankruptcy, Paul and his team were able to file adversary proceedings in the bankruptcy court and, ultimately, successfully argued that the judgment should not be discharged from the debtor’s obligations.
Defeated former distributor’s claim for $5 million dollars against his client, Covidien (f/k/a Tyco Healthcare Group, LP), for breach of contract, theft of trade secrets and tortious interference after a two week jury trial; the jury, further, awarded Covidien a verdict for fraud and breach of contract against the former distributor on its counterclaims and the jury gave Covidien every penny it requested for damages connected to liability securing a six figure verdict for the company.
He defeated a former employee’s claim for wrongful termination due to race discrimination against his client, the South Florida Water Management District. The two-week long federal trial was covered widely in the local medial, and involved sensitive and incendiary racially charged allegations made by a former employee of the District, who sought a verdict of more than $1 million dollars.
Defeated prominent South Florida physician’s claims for more than $30 million dollars for disgorgement of profits and other substantial damages under the Lanham Act for the unauthorized use of his name and likeness in advertising materials disseminated throughout the United States on behalf of clients, Eyeglass World Inc. and the Laser Vision Institute LLC, following a two-week trial in Broward County Circuit Court and six years of litigation.
Paul obtained preliminary injunction freezing bank account of defendant in a breach of contract claim after demonstrating to the Court that the defendant was engaging in fraudulent transfers of moneys from said account. This was accomplished by invoking Florida’s Fraudulent Transfers Act and was done prejudgment, which is extremely rare in civil litigation.
Defeated a former employee’s claim under the Family Medical Leave Act on behalf of client, Clear Channel Communications, in a week-long arbitration in which the employee claimed that the company had failed to reinstate her to a substantially equivalent position upon returning from leave.
Defeated former employees of client, ADT Security Services Inc., by successfully obtaining injunctions in a $500,000 non-compete and tortious interference case, where the former employees attempted to set up a competing business under fictitious names and divert hundreds of clients to their new business.
Successfully obtained injunction on behalf of a national healthcare client against business competitor and former employees pursuant to non-hiring agreement with business competitor and non-competition agreements with employees where the trial court found that legitimate business interests were established under Section 542.335, Florida Statutes (Florida’s Noncompetition Statute) due to the solicitation of clients, a showing that trade secrets existed under Ch. 688. (Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act), and because the former employees were provided with extraordinary training as defined by Florida law.
Defeated landlord on behalf of a prominent South Florida private businessman after seven years of litigation relating to a claim for a security deposit and for damages associated with a long-term residential lease. After the trial, he recouped all of his client’s attorney’s fees and costs which were in excess of $100,000 from the opposing side.
Paul has successfully orchestrated the defense and settlements of numerous class-action overtime lawsuits brought under the Fair Labor Standard Act, and numerous actions brought under the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
He has also served as an arbitrator in over 100 arbitrations dealing with issues ranging from employment matters, complex commercial litigation matters and personal injury cases.
Corporate Board Boys & Girls’ Clubs of Broward County (Chair 2016-17; Vice-Chair 2015-16; Secretary 2014-15)
Legal Counsel to the Board of Hispanic Unity of Florida (1998-2010)
Valor Award Recipient for 2011 from the American Diabetes Association
Co-Chair of 2007 Walk for Life for the American Diabetes Association
Past Trustee for United Way of Broward County
Former Trustee for the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art
Former Member and Vice-Chair of Florida Bar Grievance Committee
Member of the Board and Chairman (1996-97) of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Broward County (Honorary Lifetime Member Award 2001)
Robert (Bob) Moss v. Caterpillar Financial Services Corp., 60 So.3d 1168 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)
4UOrtho, LLC v. Practice Partners, Inc., 18 So. 3d 41 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
Dr. Marc E. Bosem, et. al. v. Musa Holdings, Inc., et. al., 8 So. 3d 1185 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
Wiggy’s, Inc. v. Snugpak Ltd. Co., 5 So. 3d 686 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
Zokaites v. 3236 NE 5th Street, Inc., 2009 WL 259593 (S.D. Fla. 2009)
Brooke Daniels v. Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc., 2002 WL 31938885 (S.D. Fla. 2002)
Dean’s List, Associate Editor Law Review, Book Award Pre-trial Practice, Note Published
Bachelors of Science