Since 1992, Stuart has been Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by the Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for Certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Only 4,600 of Florida’s approximately 100,000 lawyers are board certified and, of those, only 1,050 are certified as Civil Trial Lawyers.
In 1994, he became certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). NBTA certification is a credential above and beyond a license to practice law. Lawyers certified by the NBTA possess an enhanced level of skill and expertise in trial advocacy and have demonstrated integrity and dedication to the interests of their clients. For the past twenty years, Stuart has been awarded an AV Preeminent rating, the highest possible peer rating for both legal ability and ethical standards, by Martindale-Hubbell, a nationally recognized and authoritative source on the legal profession.
Stuart is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). His member status is that of an “advocate” which status is based on the number of jury trials he has tried. Membership in ABOTA is extended by invitation only in recognition of an individual’s high personal character, honorable reputation and proficiency as a trial lawyer. Members generally are considered the nation’s elite litigation practitioners, and must meet standards for number of years of practice and number of cases tried to conclusion.
In 2013, Stuart was invited to become a fellow of The American College of Board Certified Attorneys. The American College of Board Certified Attorneys is a professional organization for attorneys who have been Board Certified by a recognized accrediting organization.
Stuart was again selected, in 2017, to be a Florida Super Lawyer by his peers in the legal community. Super Lawyers are nominated annually in each participating state or region by all active lawyers who have been in practice for five years or more. These lawyers were invited to select the best lawyers they’ve personally observed in action. Only five percent of the state’s attorneys were selected as Florida Super Lawyers this year. Stuart has been awarded this distinction every year since 2007. In 2017, Stuart was again honored to be named to the list of the top attorneys in the Tampa Bay area by Tampa Bay Magazine .
In 2017, Stuart was awarded lifetime membership in America’s Top 100 Attorneys. Membership is limited to the Top 100 professionals from each state in each category of practice who best exhibit excellence and the highest ethical standards in their respective professions. With these high standards, less than 0.5 % of professionals in the United States are selected for membership as one of America’s Top 100 in their profession. Also in 2017 Stuart was certified as a member of The Lawyers of Distinction in the category of civil litigation. The Lawyers of Distinction is recognized as the fastest growing community of distinguished lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to the top 10% of attorneys in the United States. Members are accepted based upon objective evaluation of an attorney’s qualifications, license, reputation, experience, and disciplinary history.
From 2007 to 2014, Stuart was a member of the adjunct faculty of Stetson University College of Law where he taught Trial Advocacy. Stetson has been consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top law schools in the nation for Trial Advocacy.
Stuart is a member of the Defense Research Institute, Inc., with an additional membership in the Trial Tactics Committee. He is also a member of the Florida Bar, with additional memberships in the Trial Lawyers and Appellate Practice and Advocacy sections and a member of the American Bar Association with an additional membership in the Tort/Insurance section. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida, the United States District Courts for Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the United States Court of Federal Claims, Washington, D.C.
Stuart and his firm are members of the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM), a nonpartisan alliance of law firms, insurance companies, and corporations whose goals include the promoting and furthering of the highest standards of litigation management in pursuit of client defense. Attorneys and law firms are nominated to the CLM based upon reputation and may become members by invitation only. Stuart serves in the CLM on the Insurance Coverage Litigation committee.
Before joining this firm, Stuart was an Assistant Public Defender in St. Petersburg, Florida, during which time he tried in excess of 50 felony jury trials. Stuart then joined Nationwide Insurance Company as Staff Counsel serving the Tampa Bay Area.
Since joining the firm he has been actively representing our clients through trial in both State and Federal Courts. Stuart has handled a wide variety of cases including serious personal injury and wrongful death, premises liability, construction defects involving multi-million dollar projects, insurance coverage, bad faith, toxic torts including silica and asbestos, condominium liability, and products liability cases. During that time, Stuart has also personally represented the interests of our clients by handling their cases in the Florida appellate courts.
Stuart is well respected in the legal profession by both his colleagues as well as by his adversaries. If you retain him, you can be assured that your case will be handled aggressively, efficiently, and in a most professional manner.
❏ Guzdek v. Progressive American Insurance Company, Broward County Circuit Court. In this insurance coverage case Plaintiff, a rated driver under a policy of insurance issued to his roommate, the named insured who had previously rejected uninsured motorist coverage, claimed uninsured motorist benefits after being involved in an accident while operating his motor scooter. The court, in 2017, rejected his claim to named insured status, found the policy to be unambiguous, and denied his claim to uninsured motorist benefits. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Andreasen v. Progressive Express Insurance Company, 276 F. Supp. 3d 1317 (S.D. Fla. 2017). Plaintiff filed a multi-count complaint which Progressive removed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Plaintiff then amended his complaint, without leave of court, adding a non-diverse defendant and then moved to remand the case to state court. The District Court adopted and supplemented the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendations and denied the Motion to Remand finding that the adding of the non-diverse defendant was for the sole purpose of destroying diversity. Click here to review the Order. The court then dismissed the complaint, without prejudice, based upon the statute of limitations. That Order became a Final Order when Plaintiff failed to amend. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Steadfast Ins. Co. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111914, 2017 WL 3065269 (M.D Fla. July 19, 2017), United States District Court. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging spoliation (loss) of evidence. The District Court, in 2017, dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Click Here to review the order. ❏ Progressive Express Insurance Company v. Gomes Holdings, LLC, Charlotte County Circuit Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action and obtained a Final Summary Judgment, in 2016, on a coverage issue under a Commercial Auto Policy, involving the insureds’ failure to attend Examinations Under Oath. Click here to view the Order and Final Judgment. ❏ Diocese of St. Petersburg v. Arch Insurance Company, 188 F.Supp.3d 1289 (M.D. Fla. 2016). United States District Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action on behalf of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and its insurer, Catholic Mutual, seeking additional insured status under a policy of insurance issued by Arch Insurance Company to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Inc. The District Court, in 2016, entered Final Summary Judgment for the Diocese determining that the Diocese was an additional insured and was entitled to indemnity and a defense. Click here to view the Order. ❏ Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. Hansen, Burkard and Progressive American Insurance Company, Martin County Circuit Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory judgment Action and obtained Final Summary Judgment, in 2016, on a coverage issue under an Umbrella Policy, involving a business use exclusion. Click here to view the Final Judgment.. ❏ Garcia v. Progressive American Insurance Company, Hendry County Circuit Court. In this wrongful death case wherein the decedent was ejected and killed, Progressive was sued for negligent destruction of evidence for disposing of the 2004 Ford Explorer in which the decedent was a passenger. It was alleged that this prevented the plaintiff from being able to bring a products liability case against Ford Motor Company for an improperly functioning seatbelt. The court, in 2015, finding the action to be premature, dismissed the case against Progressive. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Litzky v. Progressive Select Insurance Company, Indian River Circuit Court. Plaintiff, in this underinsured motorist case, filed a motion to amend her complaint to add a “bad faith” count against Progressive. The court, in 2015, determining that the cause of action had not accrued, denied the motion to amend. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Mikhail v. Progressive Express Insurance Company, Pasco County Circuit Court. Stuart filed a counterclaim seeking a Declaratory Judgment and obtained a Final Summary Judgment, in 2014, on a coverage issue involving an officer of a corporation which was the named insured under Commercial Auto Policy, who was seeking underinsured motorist benefits when he was injured while a passenger in a motor vehicle that was not listed on the policy. Click here to view the Final Summary Judgment. Click here to view the Order Granting the Motion for Summary Judgment. ❏ Progressive Select Insurance Company v. Ramos, Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action and obtained a Final Summary Judgment, in 2014, on a coverage issue under a personal auto liability policy involving an insured’s failure to attend an Examination Under Oath. Click here to view the Order and Final Judgement. ❏ Love’s Window & Door Installation, Inc. v. Acousti Engineering Co. Etc., et.al., 147 So.3d 1064 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014). In this complex construction defect case, Stuart obtained a favorable opinion from the Fifth District Court of Appeal affirming an order of the trial court that had denied a transfer of venue which had been sought based upon a forum selection clause in a subcontract. Click here to see the Opinion. ❏ Progressive Express Insurance Company v. Arellano, Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action and obtained a Final Summary Judgment, in 2014, on a coverage issue involving an insured adding a motor vehicle to the commercial auto liability policy after the accident. Click here to view the Judgment. ❏ Progressive American Insurance Company v. Steele, 15 F.Supp.3d 1240 (M.D. Fla. 2014). United States District Court. Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action and obtained a Final Summary Judgment on a coverage issue involving an excluded driver under an umbrella policy. Click here to view the Opinion. ❏ Forlong v. Cochran, Collier County Circuit Court. In this maritime case, the circuit court, in 2013, granted Stuart’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings determining that claims for loss of consortium are not permitted under General Maritime Law. Click here to view the Order. Click here to view the Order. ❏ Phelps v. Johnson, 113 So.3d 924 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013). Stuart successfully represented the Appellants before the Second District Court of Appeal which, by written opinion, reversed the order of the trial court that had granted a new trial based on the court’s failure to consult with counsel after the jury had a question during deliberations. The effect of the decision was to reinstate the jury verdict for the defendants in this false imprisonment case. Click here to view the Opinion. ❏ Progressive American Insurance Company v. United States of America, 913 F.Supp.2d 1318 (M.D. Fla. 2012). United States District Court. In this case, Stuart filed a subrogation case against the United States under the Federal Torts Claim Act. This case involved issues of the accrual date of a cause of action and equitable tolling. ❏ Quinnell v. Progressive Express Insurance Company, Hillsborough County Circuit Court. In this insurance "Bad Faith" case, Stuart, in 2011, obtained a Final Summary Judgment, wherein the trial court determined that Progressive's failure to enter into a "Cunningham Agreement" could not be used as evidence of bad faith. The summary judgment was affirmed, without opinion, by the Second District Court of Appeal. Click here to view the Order and Final Summary Judgment. ❏ Graziano v. Bollea, Graziano v. Bollea, Pinellas County Circuit Court. Stuart represented Nicholas Bollea, also known as Nick Hogan, son of famed wrestler, Hulk Hogan, in a lawsuit resulting from an automobile accident wherein his passenger, John Graziano, who was not wearing his seat belt, suffered a serious brain injury. Stuart obtained favorable rulings from the trial court limiting media access to the depositions and determining that Nicholas Bollea, a minor, had no legal duty to require that his adult passenger, John Graziano, wear a seat belt. Click here to view the Order. The case was settled shortly before trial was set to begin. After settlement of the personal injury case, Stuart obtained a court order preventing release to the public and the media of the audio recordings of conversations made at the Pinellas County Jail between Nick and his family during Nick's incarceration, the court determining that the recordings were not public records. ❏ Essex Builders Group, Inc. v. Amerisure Ins. Co., 485 F. Supp. 2d 1302 (M.D. Fla 2006) United States District Court. In this case, Stuart represented PGIC in a construction defect coverage case which involved issues of "trigger of coverage" and "consequential damages" under a Comprehensive General Liability policy. ❏ Furman's Inc. v. Cameron, 816 So.2d 1265 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) This was a pre-trial discovery case based on the "work product privilege" and its application to statements obtained by an insurance company. ❏ Allstate Indemnity Company v. Wise , 818 So.2d 524 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001), rev. denied, 817 So.2d 844 (Fla. 2002) In this case Stuart filed a Declaratory Judgment Action asking the court to declare that there was no coverage under an automobile insurance policy which case involved the "intentional acts" exclusion and its application to a driver fleeing from the police.
Florida Supreme Court
U.S. District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Stuart and his wife Carol have two adult children and one grandchild. They enjoy spending time in their cabin in the mountains of Western North Carolina. They also enjoy foreign travel, having visited many counties throughout the world.
Areas of Practice:
Stetson University College of Law
Pennsylvania State University
2553 First Avenue North
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Territory of Practice:
State of Florida