Michael L. Forte

Michael Forte is a litigator who practices in the areas of retail and hospitality, government, and products liability. He also has significant experience litigating construction defect and casualty cases.

Michael's retail and hospitality clients include national retailers and property management companies. He and his team were recognized in 2012 as Sears Holdings Corporation's "Go-To Firm for Litigation" in a survey conducted by American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel magazines. He has first-chaired trials in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Palm Beach Counties.

On many occasions, Michael has prevailed on summary judgment, obviating the need for a trial. One such case was Hall v. Sunjoy Industries Group, Inc., 764 F. Supp. 2d 1297 (M.D. Fla. 2011), which involved injuries from an allegedly defective product displayed within a retail store. The Hall opinion has been cited by more than 30 other courts and mentioned in more than 20 secondary sources.

Michael has defended law enforcement officers in both federal and state courts in cases involving 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 allegations and state law claims. He also has litigated appeals hearings resulting from internal affairs investigations. He has lectured and written extensively on these issues, and several of his articles have been published in Florida Police Chief magazine.

In his construction law practice, Michael represents contractors and subcontractors sued for commercial and residential construction products. He has defended against claims of alleged construction defects, as well as related mold claims allegedly resulting from water intrusion.

His product liability work includes the defense of automobile and aviation manufacturers, as well as the defense of automobile and boat manufacturers in breach of warranty matters. His written work appears in national and regional publications such as the National Law Journal, the Stetson Law Review and Trial Advocate Quarterly.

  • Education

    Stetson University, College of Law - J.D. , cum laude , 2002
    • Notes and Comments Editor, Stetson Law Review 
    • Intern to the Honorable Magistrate Jenkins, Middle District of Florida
    • Stetson University Teaching Fellow
    • Stetson University Research Assistant
    • Elizabeth M. Leeman Award for best student article published in the Stetson Law Review, 2001-2002
    • First place in Stetson Law Review Write-On Competition for “Zadvydas v. Underwood: How to Ignore Substantive Due Process Rights in Two Easy Steps,” 2001
    University of Florida - B.A., English and Political Science, high honors , 1999
  • Honors

    • AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
    • Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Bar Admissions

    • Ohio (2008)
    • Florida (2002)
  • Court Admissions

    • U.S. District Courts of Florida (Middle)
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
  • Notable Cases

    • May v. Kmart  >>
    • Ciporkin v. Irwin Contracting, Inc. v. Mark 1 Contracting, Inc  >>
    • Austin v. Sears Home Improvement Products, Inc.  >>
    • Messing v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc.  >>
    • Thorne v. Temples  >>
    • Hall v. Kmart Corporation  >>
    • Mason v. Peabody & Arnold, LLP  >>
    • Chery v. Haines City  >>
  • Professional & Civic Activities

    • Florida Defense Lawyers Association, Trial Advocate Quarterly Editorial Board Member
    • Risk Insurance Management Society, Executive Board Member
    • The Florida Bar
      • Florida Bar Journal Editorial Board Member
      • Thirteenth Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee
      • Small Claims Rules Committee, Past Member
      • Trial Lawyers Section
    • Hillsborough County Bar Association
      • Professionalism and Ethics Committee, Past Member 
      • Trial Lawyers Section
  • Articles & Presentations

    • "Apportioning Multiple Injuries," CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, March 2014, Co-Presenter
    • "Florida Case Law Updates on MVA Claims,” CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, February 2014, Presenter
    • “Punitive Damages: When Are They Available in Premises Liability Lawsuits?” Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1, Winter 2014, Co-Author
    • "Criminal Investigations and the First Amendment," Florida Police Chief Magazine, Vol. 38, No. 1, January 2014, Author
    • “Rodriguez v. Miami-Dade County: The Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Certiorari Review in Sovereign Immunity Cases," Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 88, No. 1, January 2014, Co-Author
    • “Admissibility of High-low Agreements in Multi-defendant Litigation,” Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 87, No. 1, November 2013, Author
    • "Civil Litigation Strategies," CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, November 2013, Co-Presenter
    • "Must Treating Physicians Be Paid for Their Testimony?," Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 1, Fall 2013, Co-Author
    • "Spine Injuries in Motor Vehicle Lawsuits," Auto-Owners Insurance Company Claims Examiner Seminar, October 2013, Presenter
    • "Florida Supreme Court Makes Important Change to Sovereign Immunity," Florida Police Chief Magazine, Vol. 37, No. 4, September 2013, Author
    • “Requests for Admission: Establishing the Amount in Controversy in Personal Injury Lawsuits,” Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3, Summer 2013, Author
    • "Res Ipsa Loquitur," Risk Insurance Management Society Seminar, August 2013, Presenter
    • “A Summary of the Officers' Bill of Rights," Florida Association of State Troopers Fast Forward Newsletter, Vol. 26, No. 8, August 2013, Author
    • “Insurance Claims from Apartment Complexes,” National Apartment Association Annual Government and Legal Symposium, August 2013, Presenter
    • “Strategies for Avoiding Bad Faith in Negotiating Small Limit Claims,” CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, July 2013, Presenter
    • “An Overview of Sovereign Immunity,” CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, July 2013, Presenter
    • “Construction Defect Litigation: The Basics of Water Intrusion,” CEU Institute Claims Examiner Seminar, May 2013, Co-Presenter
    • “Police Chief Named in Lawsuit: What Now?” Florida Police Chief Magazine, Vol. 37, No. 2, April 2013, Author
    • “Lessons Learned from a Close Call: Releasing Intoxicated Persons from Custody,” Florida Police Chief Magazine, Vol. 36, No. 3, July 2012, Author
    • “Out-of-State Incapacitated Plaintiffs: Are They Really ‘Parties’ for Purposes of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.380(d)?,” Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1, January 2012, Author
    • “Sunshine Auto Coverage,” Canadian Underwriter, Vol. 79, No. 8, August 2011, Author
    • “DUI Crashes: Trooper Liability,” Florida Association of State Troopers Fast Forward Newsletter, Vol. 24, No. 8, August 2011, Author
  • Community Involvement

    • All Children's Hospital, Voice4AllKids Advocate


  • Ohio
  • Florida
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