Thomas S. Ward
Thomas S. Ward
University of Miami, J.D., cum laude
- Bar & Gavel Honors Society
- James Weldon Johnson Fellow
- Dean’s List
- Dean’s Certificate of Achievement: Administrative Law
- Articles Editor of University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review
- International Moot Court Board (winner of “Best Brief” for UM intramural competition)
- Dean’s Merit Scholarship Recipient
- Priscilla Schneller Scholarship Recipient
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S., Communications
Legal Intern, Honorable R. Fred Lewis, Supreme Court of Florida (2005)
Tom is Board Certified by the Florida Bar as an Appellate Specialist and is the head of HSM’s Appellate Practice. He is an experienced appellate advocate who has authored briefs filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Florida Supreme Court, and each of Florida’s District Courts of Appeal.
Tom has been appointed as Vice Chair, twice, to Florida Bar’s Appellate Court Rules Committee, where he assisted in the process of creating the rules of procedure that must be followed in every appellate court throughout Florida. Tom has also served on the board of the Third District Court of Appeal Historical Society and was elected as its thirteenth President. Prior to entering private practice, Tom interned at the Florida Supreme Court for the Honorable R. Fred Lewis.
Unlike many appellate practitioners who practice in their “ivory towers,” Tom also has extensive, hands-on experience in the trenches as a trial lawyer. Named as one of “America’s Top 100 Bet-The-Company Litigators,” Tom has successfully first-chaired trials, cross-examined hostile witnesses during trials and arbitrations, argued dispositive motions (evidentiary and otherwise), taken countless depositions, and negotiated complex settlements to contentious disputes.
Some of Tom’s significant results include:
- Obtaining an order vacating a $95.5 million jury verdict and ensuing judgment entered in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court against the owner of a bar and in favor of the personal representative of a young woman killed by a drunk driver as well as the guardian of her younger brother who was injured in the same collision. This result was obtained after Tom successfully convinced the Third District Court of Appeal to relinquish jurisdiction to the trial court to rule on his motion to vacate while the appeal was pending.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in Guenni v. Advance Business Capital, LLC, 355 So. 3d 813 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022), which affirmed a summary judgment ruling that determined, under Texas law, a factoring company was a third-party beneficiary of a personal guaranty agreement executed by the principal of the factor’s client in favor of the factor’s parent company, which thereby enabled the factor to collect the client’s substantial outstanding balance from the client’s principal.
- Obtaining a summary judgment exceeding $10.5 million in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court in favor of a foreign lender in a highly contested consolidated lawsuit involving foreclosure and fraud claims pertaining to the identity of the owner of two residential towers in Bay Harbor Island, Florida that served as collateral to the mortgage.
- Obtaining a confidential settlement for real estate developers and their individual principals of a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court by developers’ principal broker who sought millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid real estate commissions and other damages for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and tortious interference. The settlement was reached after Tom strategically filed a motion for injunctive relief on behalf of the developers and their principals.
- Obtaining a confidential settlement for contract purchaser of a substantial amount of vacant, entitled commercial real property adjacent to the Broward County Courthouse. The settlement was reached after Tom filed appellate briefs in the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in Judd v. 9701 Collins Avenue, LLC, 284 So. 3d 1039 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019), which affirmed a summary judgment ruling that determined the developer of The St. Regis Resort and Residences Bal Harbor was entitled to retain an approximately $1 million real estate deposit and recover prevailing party attorneys’ fees from a defaulting purchaser of a condominium unit.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in The City of Coral Gables v. Garcia, No. 3D18-1393, 2018 WL 4904915 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), which held that the City of Coral Gables had standing to appeal an order denying its motion to intervene in an ad valorem property tax lawsuit wherein Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser sought to reinstate its initial $81 million assessment of The Shops at Merrick Park’s improvements.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in Williams Island Ventures, LLC, et al. v. Marcus Saiz De la Mora as Miami-Dade County Tax Collector, 246 So. 3d 471 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), which reversed an order dismissing Miami-Dade County taxpayers’ class action complaint with prejudice and interpreting Florida statutes to entitle the class of approximately 24,000 taxpayers to recover interest on all overpaid ad valorem property taxes that were initially paid in connection with the commencement of their property tax appeals. Tom, as class counsel, then used that precedent to negotiate a class settlement that created a common fund exceeding $10 million.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in Banner v. Law Office of David J. Stern, P.A., 212 So. 3d 370 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), which affirmed a summary judgment ruling in favor of defendant law firm and its managing partner, which defeated the approximately 3,000 class members’ Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act claim directed to law firm’s preparation and mailing of reinstatement letters to borrowers on behalf of the law firm’s lender client during pending mortgage foreclosure actions.
- Obtaining a confidential settlement for publicly traded telecommunications company and its shareholders of a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court, Southern District), by alleged equity investors who sought to recover over $4.5 million. The settlement was reached after Tom drafted an appellate brief and argued the matter before the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, in an appeal of a preliminary injunction against the company and its shareholders.
- Obtaining an appellate decision in Rendon v. Fortune Int’l. Realty, Inc., 117 So. 3d 1100 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013), which affirmed an order granting real estate developer defendants’ motion for sanctions against plaintiff, including the dismissal of his pleading—which sought over $3.5 million in damages—with prejudice.
- Obtaining confidential settlement for seller of commercial real property located near the Miami Dolphins’ stadium of a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court by the purchaser who sought “in excess of” $10 million for fraud and breach of contract. The settlement was reached after Tom strategically filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to add the purchaser’s individual principals as parties to the lawsuit.
Despite managing a busy practice, Tom has made it a point throughout his career to take on pro bono work. Whether through Jacksonville Area Legal Aid or the Guardian ad Litem Program’s Defending Best Interests Project, the combined number of pro bono appeals throughout Florida that Tom has handled are in the double digits.