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Overview

Morgan A. McDonough is an Associate in the Litigation Department. Morgan practices in all areas of commercial litigation including representing owners to challenge Ad Valorem Tax assessments. Prior to joining the firm, she clerked for The Honorable Robert Scola, Jr. in both the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and in the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.  She also served as a judicial intern for Judge Scola. 

Morgan graduated with honors, Order of the Coif, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Representative Experience

  • Represented Flagstone Island Gardens LLC and Flagstone Development Corporation in a suit against the City of Miami in connection with Flagstone’s right to develop and lease a $1.2 billion mixed-used hotel, retail and marina project on Watson Island. Flagstone won the bid to develop in 2001 and subsequently obtained financing. However the market crash in 2007 caused investors to walk out on the project. In 2010, the City and Flagstone amended the agreement to include longer time periods to commence and complete development in phases. Throughout this period, a group of community activists opposed to the project started a campaign to block the project, filing lawsuits and submitting numerous letters to city officials. Building permits that should have been granted were stalled and the City Commission, led by Commissioner Russell, declared Flagstone in default. Flagstone sued to declare that there was no default and seek damages for the City’s breach of the agreements. The case was bifurcated between liability and damages.  After a 7-day bench trial on liability, Judge William Thomas entered a 27-page order finding against the City and in favor of Flagstone on every disputed issue. While not addressed by the Court in this phase of the litigation, Flagstone offered evidence that it has invested more than $120 million in the project.
  • 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. The 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 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.
  • Member of team that successfully represented the City of Marathon in a federal nonjury trial to recover damages from the issuer of a surety bond that refused to take over or pay to complete unfinished work on a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Assisted team in obtaining a $1.2 million verdict, plus award of attorneys' fees and costs, in a jury trial on behalf of a construction firm fraudulently induced into a fixed price contract, successfully turning a breach of contract lawsuit against contractor into a favorable verdict on counterclaims.
  • Assisted in the representation of a publicly-traded financial institution 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 affirmed the dismissal.
  • Member of team representing MDM Development in administrative proceedings after certain archaeologists claimed the site contained significant cultural remnants of the Tequestas, the earliest known inhabitants of the site. Relying on the architects’ claims, the City’s Historical and Environmental Protection Board repudiated prior development approvals in favor of MDM’s $140-million-plus development. After an evidentiary hearing and an ensuing mediation, the development proceeded with a plan to preserve and showcase archaeological features associated with the Tequestas within the development and a substantial historical and educational exhibit in the planned 1,200-square-foot pedestrian plaza.
  • Successfully resolved claim for construction defect coverage under CGL policy.

Judicial Clerkships

  • Law Clerk, Honorable Robert Scola, Jr., U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida and Circuit Court for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Publications & Presentations

Events: View From the Deck: Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then
UF Law NaviGators |July 2016

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