Grace L. Mead is a Shareholder in the Litigation Department. Grace practices in all areas of commercial litigation. Prior to joining the Firm, she served as clerk for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Houston, Texas and was an associate in a prominent New York law firm. Grace graduated with High Honors, Order of the Coif, from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.
- Represents Florida pubic college and university donors, recent graduates, and proposed classes of donors, students, and recent graduates in a lawsuit to compel payment of over $1 billion owed to Florida’s public colleges, universities, and their students. Defendants include Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Senate President, and the Florida Speaker of the House. The lawsuit is based on four separate statutes that obligate the State to “match” private donations made to support higher education through aid, scholarships, and facilities improvements. The lawsuit asserts claims that, by defunding the matching statutes in years of general revenue surpluses in general appropriations bills, the State violated the Florida Constitution’s requirement that laws on appropriations address no other subject, breached contracts with donors that had students as the intended third party beneficiaries, and violated the Florida Constitution’s requirement that the State make adequate provision for institutions of higher education. After Defendants moved to dismiss, the Circuit Court ruled the Complaints properly pleaded four of their five causes of action. Defendants then filed a Petition for Writ of Prohibition seeking to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, and the First District Court of Appeal ruled the Circuit Court had jurisdiction for plaintiffs to proceed with the cause of action for breach of contract.
- For over 9 years, starting immediately after the Florida real estate market crash, represented BBX Capital Corporation and its Chairman and CEO Alan Levan, which owned the 100-branch Florida bank BankAtlantic in an SEC investigation and then enforcement action alleging BBX had concealed loan risks. A six-week jury trial and split verdict in 2014, a successful appeal to the Eleventh Circuit in 2016, and a second six-week jury trial in 2017 resulted in a verdict and judgment for BBX and Mr. Levan rejecting every claim asserted by the SEC
- Represented the vacation ownership company Bluegreen Vacations Inc. in putative class action brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging claims of fraud and deceptive practices over the prior four years in selling well over $1 billion in vacation ownership interests to purchasers nationwide. After filing a motion to dismiss on behalf of Bluegreen, the district court dismissed three of the four claims with prejudice. After the close of fact discovery and the completion of briefing on the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, plaintiffs withdrew their motion for class certification, abandoning the argument that Bluegreen’s policies and procedures were fraudulent or deceptive, and took the position that doing so eliminated subject matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act. After considering Eleventh Circuit precedent requiring dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction if the case never should have been brought as a class action in the first place, the district court then dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
- Represented the vacation ownership company Bluegreen in putative class action brought in federal court under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. After filing a motion to dismiss on behalf of Bluegreen, the named plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims with prejudice.
- Represented a publicly-traded holding company, BFC Financial Corporation, now BBX Capital Corporation, its subsidiaries, and certain officers and directors in 10 shareholder class actions, 8 of which were resolved with defendants paying no money to the plaintiffs. Included in those was the dismissal with prejudice of a complaint seeking to challenge the merger of BFC and BBX valued at over $250 million because the Florida appraisal statute provided the exclusive remedy, which has since been affirmed by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.
- Represented publicly-traded financial institution in merger litigation brought by shareholder on behalf of a putative class seeking to block the bank’s acquisition for $190 million. Defeated plaintiff’s motion for expedited discovery and proceedings in aid of a temporary injunction, and plaintiff filed notice of voluntary dismissal.
- Represented BBX in litigation brought by debtholders in the Delaware Chancery Court, which, after a trial, entered an injunction against the structure of BBX’s proposed sale of BankAtlantic to BB&T. The sale was then restructured so BBX sold BankAtlantic to BB&T at the same 10 percent deposit premium.
- Represented publicly-traded financial institution in merger litigation brought by shareholder on behalf of a putative class seeking to block the bank's acquisition for $190 million. Defeated plaintiff's motion for expedited discovery and proceedings in aid of a temporary injunction, and plaintiff filed notice of voluntary dismissal.
- Represented BBX and certain officers and directors in private securities litigation brought by shareholders alleging that BBX fraudulently concealed loan risks. After a six-week jury trial, a split verdict, and an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, the litigation ended with a judgment rejecting every claim asserted.
- Represented MDM Development in administrative proceedings after certain archaeologists made claims about the Tequestas, the earliest known inhabitants of the site of MDM’s $140-million plus development, which led the City’s Historical and Environmental Protection Board to repudiate prior development approvals. After an evidentiary hearing, the ensuing mediation resulted in the development going forward and a plan to preserve and showcase archaeological features associated with the Tequestas within the development while also offering substantial historical and educational exhibit in the previously planned 1,200 square-foot pedestrian plaza.
- Represented MDM Development as intervenor in a Sunshine Law challenge brought to that mediation and obtained a summary judgment rejecting all claims, which the Florida Third District Court of Appeal has since affirmed.
- Represented high-rise condominium developer against a plaintiff claiming a property interest in 60 units and seeking to hold up development by filing a lis pendens and a complaint. Obtained dissolution of lis pendens and dismissal of complaint with prejudice. Rulings affirmed on appeal.
- Represented a publicly-traded financial institution and its subsidiary national bank as Florida counsel with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, against federal securities and other claims arising from the collapse of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. The district court granted a motion to dismiss with prejudice, in a decision that clarifies the limited scope of financial institutions’ liability for frauds perpetrated by customers. The Eleventh Circuit has affirmed the dismissal.
- Represented a publicly-traded financial institution and its subsidiary national bank as Florida counsel with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in putative class action on behalf of certain borrowers. The district court dismissed most of the claims, and the case then settled on favorable terms.
- Represented UBS in IRS action brought seeking to compel UBS to disclose the names of accountholders as Florida counsel. Worked with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Wachtell Lipton to oppose an IRS petition seeking information on many thousands of client accounts located exclusively in Switzerland, even though compliance would have compelled UBS employees to commit crimes in Switzerland. Settled on favorable terms.
- Represented company offering online brokerage services in lawsuit brought by investors alleging that the company violated the Commodities Exchange Act by aiding and abetting an investment pool operator in his scheme to defraud investors. The district court granted a motion to dismiss the investors’ claims, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
- Represented seller of credit card processing software in case alleging defects in that software in Florida state court and claiming an entitlement to about $6 million in damages. Settled on favorable terms.
- Represented leading manufacturer of roofing in litigation challenging $1 billion merger with another roofing manufacturer against a plaintiff shareholder’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff shareholder decided not to pursue motion for preliminary injunction.
- Represented leading direct mail media company in an expedited litigation to compel a major marketing and communications company to perform the obligations outlined in its Agreement of Purchase and Sale to buy the company for about $1.4 billion. After one week of trial, settled on favorable terms.
- Represented real estate developer against over 20 insurers for billions of dollars in losses stemming from the events of September 11 at the World Trade Center. Two separate juries found some insurers liable and others not liable, leaving the determination of damages for a later phase of the proceedings. In total, the juries found insurers liable for up to $4.7 billion in property damages. The Second Circuit affirmed and case then settled on favorable terms.
- Represented individual in filing petition to the Eleventh Circuit seeking review of a Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision finding him removable and denying his application for withholding of removal and relief under the United Nations Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”). Without oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit granted the petition for review, vacated the removal order, and remanded.
- Law Clerk, The Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Professional & Community Involvement
- Director, Miami Dade Urban Debate League
- Involved in National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, in various ways, for over ten years.
- Benchmark Litigation, Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2018
Publications & Presentations
Defense of an Other (a novel)
How Stein Could Transform Sentencing For Securities Fraud
Two New Tools for Addressing Activist Hedge Funds—Sunlight Bylaws and Reciprocal Disclosures
21 Fordham J. Corp. & Fin. L. 479|January 2016
Presentation with Cindy L. Ebenfeld, Persuasive Legal Writing
Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers’ Section|February 2014
Failure of Named Representatives in a Class Action to Satisfy the Statute of Limitations
67 U. Chi. L. Rev. 805.|January 2000
Joy Spillis Lundeen and Grace Lee Mead Named among Benchmark Litigation’s ‘Top 250 Women in Litigation’
Firm Announcements, Recent News Updates:
State Loses Appeal Seeking to Dismiss Billion Dollar Lawsuit to Require State Matching of Private Donations to Florida’s Public Colleges and Universities
In the Media:
Court Blocks Parts of Matching-Gift Case
In the Media:
Appellate Court Mostly Finds for Lawmakers in Matching-Gift Case
Florida Politics|June 2018
In the Media:
National Speech & Debate Association Alumni
In the Media:
BBX Defeats Shareholder Lawsuit in Case That Could Trim Merger Litigation
Daily Business Review|March 2018
In the Media:
Judge Refuses to Dismiss Matching Gifts Case Involving College Donations
In the Media:
This is what happens when university matching gifts aren’t matched
Tampa Bay Times|December 2017