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Overview

An excellent lawyer with first-rate written work... super smart; she can map it out, peer around corners and get you prepped for trial effectively.

- Chambers USA 2021

Grace L. Mead is a Shareholder in the Litigation Department and a member of the Firm's Board of Directors. She 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. In her spare time, she wrote and published a novel, Defense of an Other (Clink Street 2018), which is available on Amazon (hint, hint).

Representative Experience

Class Actions

  • Represents the vacation ownership company Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. in proposed class action filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida asserting claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and seeking damages of over $420 million. The district court denied class certification.
  • Represented Miami metropolitan business in defending a class action brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking class-wide damages of about $90 million. The district court denied class certification.
  • Represented Bluegreen in proposed 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. After the individual plaintiffs sued in Florida Circuit Court, that Court entered summary judgment for Bluegreen.
  • Represented a publicly-traded financial institution and its subsidiary national bank as Florida counsel with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in proposed class action on behalf of certain borrowers. The district court dismissed most of the claims, and the case then settled on favorable terms.

Corporate and Securities Litigation

  • Represented Bluegreen as defendant in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, where over 100 owners at The Manhattan Club had asserted various claims and touted damages of over $100 million. The district court dismissed the complaint, without prejudice, for failure to state a claim.
  • Represented Bluegreen as plaintiff in Florida Circuit Court challenging a condominium board’s refusal to hold free and fair owner elections for the condominium’s board of directors for some five years. After years of litigation and discovery, the Circuit Court entered summary judgment and an injunction ordering a free and fair owner election. The defendants have since appealed.
  • 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 online publisher and comparison service for financial products and services as Florida counsel with Wachtell Lipton in litigation filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging securities fraud in the wake of the announcement of an investigation into restating prior financial results. After the district court dismissed the consolidated and amended complaint, case settled on favorable terms.
  • Represented publicly-traded biopharmaceutical firm as Florida counsel in a series of lawsuits alleging securities law violations and breaches of fiduciary duty in the wake of an announcement of an investigation into restating prior financial results. Settled on favorable terms.
  • 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 about $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 a publicly-traded financial institution and its subsidiary national bank as Florida counsel with Wachtell Lipton 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 in proposed class action on behalf of certain borrowers. The district court dismissed most of the claims, and the case then settled on favorable terms.
  • 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 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.

Government Litigation

  • Represented nine plaintiffs in challenging a federal settlement agreement between a developer and the City of Miami that would have permitted the development of a proposed gambling facility in Miami’s Edgewater Neighborhood. On summary judgment, the Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge ruled that the Mayor had validly vetoed the proposed federal settlement and invalidated the settlement. The Circuit Judge has entered final judgment.
  • Represented Florida public college and university donors, recent graduates, and proposed classes of donors, students, and recent graduates in a lawsuit for over $1 billion in damages for money owed to Florida’s public colleges, universities, and their students. The lawsuit was based on four separate State statutes that appropriated money for, and required the colleges, universities, and their foundations to enter into gift agreements that required the State to match private donations made to support higher education through facilities improvements, aid, and scholarships. After defeating two rounds of motions to dismiss and winning on appeal in the First District Court of Appeal, a second panel of the First District Court of Appeal dismissed the case as barred by sovereign immunity, and the Florida Supreme Court declined review.
  • 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.
  • 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 affirmed.
  • 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.

Trials and Resulting Appeals

  • 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 BBX and certain officers and directors in a private securities class action. After a 6-week jury trial and a verdict mostly for the defendants, the District Court entered judgment as a matter of law for defendants on every claim. The judgment was then affirmed, on other grounds, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • 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 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.

Judicial Clerkships

  • Law Clerk, The Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Professional & Community Involvement

  • The American Law Institute (ALI), Member
  • Speaks regularly on LGBTQ issues
  • Involved in various charities, in various ways, serving the LGBTQ community
  • Involved in National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, in various ways, for over ten years

Recognition

  • Chambers USA, Litigation: General Commercial (Florida), 2021
  • South Florida Business Journal, Business of Pride Outstanding Voices Honoree, 2020
  • Who's Who Legal (WWL), Florida Litigation - Recommended, 2020
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, 2019-2021
  • Benchmark Litigation, Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2018

Publications & Presentations

Publications: Florida Adopts its Own Version of the TCPA
Stearns Weaver Miller News Update|July 2021

Events: A Conversation with Grace Mead: A Trans-Inclusive Workplace Story
HR Miami 2nd Annual Conference |June 2021

Events: Transitioning Toward Authenticity: Issues Facing Transgender People
Delaware State Bar Association|December 2020

Events: OUTLaw's Diversity in Law Panel
University of Miami School of Law|March 2019

Publications: Defense of an Other (a Novel)
Amazon|November 2018

Publications: Two New Tools for Addressing Activist Hedge Funds—Sunlight Bylaws and Reciprocal Disclosures
21 Fordham J. Corp. & Fin. L. 479|January 2016

Events: Presentation with Cindy L. Ebenfeld, Persuasive Legal Writing
Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers’ Section|February 2014

Publications: Failure of Named Representatives in a Class Action to Satisfy the Statute of Limitations
67 U. Chi. L. Rev. 805.|January 2000

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Newsroom

Firm Announcements: Grace Mead Elected to The American Law Institute
October 2021

In the Media: Florida TCPA Class Cert. Denied Over 'Deceptive' Retiree
Law360|September 2021

In the Media: Timeshare Co. Can't Dodge TCPA Class Suit
Law360|July 2021

In the Media: Legitimate Overrule: Miami Mayor's Edgewater Casino Veto Upheld
Daily Business Review|January 2021

In the Media: Challenge to Miami Casino Survives Dismissal Push
Daily Business Review|January 2021

In the Media: Roundtable Series: LGBTQ-friendly policies are smart for businesses
South Florida Business Journal|November 2020

In the Media: Meet the 2020 Business of Pride honorees: Grace Mead
South Florida Business Journal|June 2020

In the Media: Business of Pride - Announcing Our 2020 Outstanding Voices Honorees!
South Florida Business Journal|May 2020

In the Media: ‘Sovereign immunity’ makes Florida a deadbeat debtor. The state should pay up.
South Florida Sun Sentinel|October 2019

In the Media: Court Blocks Parts of Matching-Gift Case
CBS12|June 2018

In the Media: Appellate Court Mostly Finds for Lawmakers in Matching-Gift Case
Florida Politics|June 2018

In the Media: BBX Defeats Shareholder Lawsuit in Case That Could Trim Merger Litigation
Daily Business Review|March 2018

In the Media: This is what happens when university matching gifts aren’t matched
Tampa Bay Times|December 2017

In the Media: Alan Levan gets back to work
Miami Herald Business Monday |August 2017

In the Media: Billion dollar lawsuit claims state broke higher education promises
Tallahassee Democrat|July 2017

In the Media: Levan, BBX cleared of SEC charges
South Florida Business Journal |May 2017

In the Media: Federal Jury Clears Levan and BBX on All SEC Claims
Daily Business Review|May 2017

In the Media: 11th Circ. Axes SEC Win in BankAtlantic Fraud Case
Law360|September 2016

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