John is the Managing Member of the firm’s West Palm Beach, Florida office, and is a 15-year member of the firm's Executive Committee. John has over 35 years of experience assisting clients in complex real estate transactions and business litigation matters. His clients include buyers, sellers, developers, lenders, and contractors, both institutional and entrepreneurial. John has represented local and national lenders in all aspects of complex mortgage financing. Since 2000, John has been Board Certified as a specialist in Real Estate Law by the Florida Bar. Throughout his career, John has also acted as an agent for several national title insurance companies. With experience in several practice areas, John frequently acts as an “outside" General Counsel for his entrepreneurial clients, providing comprehensive management of their many legal challenges. In addition, John acts as an expert witness (both consulting and trial) in real estate related litigation matters.
John earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. He received a B.A. (English Writing – Business Co-Majors), summa cum laude, with honors in Creative Writing, from Florida State University; Phi Beta Kappa; National Merit Scholar in 1982.
Representative Cases & Matters
John's lending experience includes:
- Real Estate secured mortgage financing, including land loans, development loans, construction lending, private equity financing, mezzanine financing, permanent financing and distressed lending
- Loan workouts, forbearance arrangements, mortgage foreclosures, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure arrangements, and receiverships
- Lender liability claims Non-recourse financing
John’s real estate practice also includes:
- Construction Contracts, Construction liens, and Contract Disputes
- Land use, platting, zoning, road right-of-way, easements, and permitting
- Commercial Leasing
- Agricultural Use Classification and Real Estate Tax Appeals
- Title Insurance claims
Recent real estate development projects include:
- The Royale (375 unit apartment project with commercial out parcels), Lake Worth, FL
- Atlántico at Palm Aire (240 unit residential apartment project), Pompano Beach, FL
- The Ray (mixed used luxury boutique hotel and retail project), Delray Beach, FL
- Delray Beach Market (mixed use food hall and parking garage project), Delray Beach, FL
- Monarch Station (a 296 unit residential apartment project), Coconut Creek, FL
- Atlántico at Alton (353 unit residential apartment project), Palm Beach Gardens, FL
- The Fitzgerald (300 unit residential apartment project), Tampa, FL
- Cannery Row (90 unit townhome project), Delray Beach, FL
- Valiente Polo Farm (equestrian polo facility), Wellington, FL
- Port Mayaca Plantation (residential and polo project) Martin County, FL
- Everglades Polo (equestrian polo facility), Wellington, FL
Other significant real estate matters include:
- Pioneering the first sale of Transferable Development Rights under the City of West Palm Beach’s Historic Preservation Program on behalf of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The sale resulted in the transfer of over 200,000 square feet of “Air Rights” to Kolter Properties for the construction of a 20-story residential condominium in downtown West Palm Beach.
- Representing a national lender in numerous distressed loan matters including the foreclosure and ultimate bankruptcy sale of a failed waterfront condominium project and the foreclosure/workout of numerous failed residential development mortgage loans.
- Negotiating a Public/Private agreement with the South Florida Water Management District and Martin County, Florida for the creation of a public stormwater management facility and recreation area on 2,200 acres, reserving 20 year mining rights for his client during the excavation of the facility.
- Negotiating multiple New Market Tax Credit mortgage financings for an aggregate rock mining project, and later assisted with EB-5 Financing for related mining and trucking operations.
- Buyout of a national REIT as part of the recapitalization of an investment partnership owning over 1 million square feet of multi-tenant industrial properties located In Chicago.
- Sale of Gulfstream Polo Club to Pulte Homes for redevelopment as a residential P.U.D.
- Acquisition and redevelopment of a 135 room Airport Hotel and IHOP Restaurant ground lease, including senior mortgage financing and a subordinated SBA renovation loan.
- Representing the buyer/developer of a self-storage building in Delray Beach, Florida, including zoning and subdivision approvals.
- Obtaining County zoning and land use approvals for a distributor of compressed atmospheric gases. Representing a contractor in the successful enforcement of a $1 Million construction lien on a hotel project in Miami Beach, Florida.
- Successfully appealed the denial of an Agricultural Classification for an equestrian facility in Wellington, Florida owned as a condominium.
- Representing the borrower in a $45 Million CMBS loan on a mixed use Office/Retail project in Downton West Palm Beach, FL.
- Representing the developer of a prominent Palm Beach Gardens retail center in the $88 million sale to a national REIT. https://mcdonaldhopkins.com/Insights/News/2018/05/22/PGA-Plaza-in-Palm-Beach- Gardens-FL-sells-for-88-million
Recent expert witness matters:
- Consulting and Testifying Expert for the Defendant in a wrongful death action regarding status of decedent as a trespasser upon a roadway easement, resulting in a Summary Judgment in favor of the Defendant/easement holder controlling the roadway.
- Consulting and Testifying Expert for the Plaintiff in a real estate related litigation matter regarding the premises liability of a property owners’ association and a golf club resulting from the shared use of a “promenade” where a bicyclist suffered devastating injuries, resulting in a Plaintiff’s verdict of over $40 million.
- Consulting and Testifying Expert for the defendant (the owner of a title insurance agency) in a criminal fraud prosecution regarding an alleged mortgage fraud scheme arising from a series of “short sale” transactions. Upon disclosure to the prosecution of the expert analysis of the transactions, including expert analysis of all relevant closing files with respect to the roles and duties of the title agent under then State and Federal laws, the U.S. Attorney’s Office elected to drop all charges immediately prior to trial.
- From 2002 to 2008, John managed a complex mass tort litigation against the government of Libya on behalf of the owner of a DC-10 aircraft which was destroyed, and the families of the seven (7) American passengers who were killed, when a suitcase bomb planted by Libyan agents exploded over the Niger desert in North Africa in 1989 (UTA Flight 772). In 2008, the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, entered a $1.7 Billion judgment against the government of Libya, ultimately resulting in Congress's passage of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act (LCRA) to settle all claims of American nationals (including the Pan Am Lockerbie and LaBelle Disco bombings) and to normalize commercial and diplomatic relations between the United States and the government of Libya. Since the passage of the LCRA, John has assisted with the filing and successful prosecution of approximately $100 million of claims with the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission on behalf of the aircraft owner and the families of the American passengers. In 2017, the book "The Forgotten Flight" chronicled the UTA 772 litigation and its impact on international relations with Libya. The book was favorably reviewed in the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/terrors-tailwind-1499029226
Honors & Recognition
"AV” Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Designated "Lawyer of the Year" in West Palm Beach for Real Estate Litigation by Best Lawyers in America (2013, 2014 and 2017)
Named one of the Best Lawyers in America (2005-2023)
Selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers (2006-2022)
Florida Trend, “Florida Legal Elite”
South Florida’s Legal Guide, “Top Lawyers” (2004-2020)
Daily Business Review, “Best of The Bar”
Achievement Award (Pro Bono) – St. Ann’s School (2004)
Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award - Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County (2007)
University of Pennsylvania
Florida State University
Admissions – State
Professional & Civic
The Florida Bar
Board Certified as a specialist in Real Estate Law since 2000
Judicial Nominating Commission, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, Appointee of Governor Jeb Bush (2003 to 2008); Vice Chairman (2005 to 2006); Chairman (2006 to 2007)
Formerly an Adjunct Professor of Advanced Business Law at the Rinker School of Business, Palm Beach Atlantic College
Pine-Jog Environmental Education Center (Business Advisory Board)
St. Ann's Church (Finance Committee)
Rosarian Academy (Sports Committee)
News & Insights