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 2020, 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. From 2017 to 2020 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 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 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, Southern, and Northern Districts of Florida, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
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.
❏ Progressive Select Insurance Company v Rafferty, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127687, 2020 WL 4034947, __ F.Supp.3d ___ (M.D. Fla. July 16, 2020). United States District Court. In this Declaratory Judgment action, it was claimed that the adult son of the policyholder was a resident of his father’s home-based principally on the fact that the son used his father’s address as his mailing address for both business and personal reasons. The District Court, in 2020, rejected that argument and granted summary judgment to Progressive. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Krysiak v. Dawson, No. 4D19-1532, 2020 Fla. App. Lexis 9866 (Fla. 4th DCA July 8, 2020). After a jury trial in which the trial court excluded a late disclosed diagnosis of PTSD, the jury returned a verdict finding no permanent injury which, since only noneconomic damages had been sought, was a defense verdict. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, in 2020, affirmed the judgment for the defendants finding that the trial court properly excluded the evidence. The court considered the disclosure requirements of the pre-trial order and approved the trial court’s balancing of competing interests by allowing limited testimony with the actual diagnosis of PTSD being excluded. Click here to review the Opinion. ❏ Hoffman v. Progressive Express Insurance Company, 294 So.3d 448 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). The Hoffmans, who were passengers in a car that they did not own, were injured in an accident caused by an underinsured motorist. They received Uninsured Motorist coverage from the insurer of the host vehicle. The Hoffman’s had several policies in which they were the named insureds, which provided uninsured motorist coverage including one with Progressive which policy provided non-stacked coverage. The Hoffmans recovered uninsured motorist coverage from their own insurer, GEICO, and then sought uninsured motorist coverage from Progressive. Progressive denied coverage based on a provision in its policy which precluded the recovery of uninsured motorist benefits when an insured was a passenger in a car that the insured did not own and then received uninsured motorist benefits from another insurer, in this case, GEICO. Progressive brought an action for Declaratory judgment. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted Progressive’s motion and denied the Hoffmans’ motion. On appeal, the First District Court of Appeal, in 2020, affirmed the summary judgment for Progressive. Click here to review the Opinion. ❏ Harrell v. Progressive Select Ins. Co., Hillsborough County Circuit Court. In this case, involving non-binding arbitration, it was contended that Progressive’s Motion for Trial de Novo was untimely as being filed more than 20 days after service of the arbitrator’s decision. The court, in 2019, found that the arbitrators' decision, when originally served, was by U.S. Mail, and not email, as was required by the local administrative rule, thus making the later email service date, the operative service date. As a result, the Motion for Trial de Novo was timely filed. Click here to view the Order. ❏ Progressive American Insurance Company v. Pawelczyk, 276 So. 3d 249 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019). In this insurance coverage case, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a summary judgment entered against Progressive in an uninsured motorist case. The court ruled that a nonresident relative of the named insured was not entitled to uninsured motorist benefits when she was injured while riding as a passenger in a car rented by the named insured. Click here to view the Opinion. ❏ Progressive Express Insurance Company v. Alpine Towing, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36866 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 6, 2019), United States District Court, Stuart filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the commercial policy of insurance issued to Alpine Towing Inc. did not provide coverage to the family of a woman killed in an accident with a tow truck owned by Alpine Towing and operated by its employee. The District Court, in 2019, granted Progressive’s Motion for Final Summary Judgment finding no coverage under the policy. Click here to view the Order. ❏ Farkas v. Dean and Progressive American Ins. Co., Sarasota County Circuit Court. In this uninsured motorist case, Stuart and his team obtained a defense verdict, in 2019, wherein the Plaintiff requested that the jury award him $9.5 million in damage. Plaintiff had undergone numerous surgeries subsequent to the accident and developed post-surgical complications. His medical bills exceeded $500,000. Progressive asserted defenses to both liability and causation.. ❏ Progressive Select Ins. Co. v. Bigney, 264 So. 3d 222 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018). Stuart petitioned the Fifth District Court of Appeal for certiorari relief which was granted in 2018 in a case involving a violation of the non-joinder statute. Click here to review the opinion. ❏ Progressive Express. Ins. Co., v. Faura, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211156 (S.D Fla. Dec. 13, 2018), United States District Court. Progressive filed this action for Declaratory Judgment and Rescission claiming that the policy was obtained by fraud and misrepresentation and further claiming a breach of the Duty of Cooperation provision of the policy as a result of the insureds failing to appear for Examinations Under Oath. The District Court, in 2018, granted Progressive’s Motion for Summary Judgment, found no coverage and rescinded the policy. Click here to review the Order. ❏ Potter v. Evans, Pasco County Circuit Court. In this personal injury case, Plaintiff’s served two Proposals for Settlement upon the Defendant which the Defendant accepted, despite his inability to pay. Plaintiffs disputed that a defendant, who was unable to pay, could accept the Proposals. Defendant moved to enforce the settlement. The Court, in 2018, granted Defendant’s motion and held that since the Proposals did not require payment as a condition of acceptance, a judgment could be entered to enforce the settlement. 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. ❏ 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. ❏ 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 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. ❏ 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 Northern, 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