2021 Summer Newsletter



LLW Attorneys Receive Awards from the City, County and Local Government Law Section of the Florida Bar

LLW attorneys James W. Linn and Glenn E. Thomas recently received awards from the City, County and Local Government Law Section of the Florida Bar (“CCLGLS”). James W. Linn received the 2020 Paul S. Buchman Attorney of the Year Award and Glenn E. Thomas received the 2021 Chair Service Award. Both awards were presented virtually on April 30th as part of the Section’s annual Local Government Law in Florida conference.

The prestigious Paul S. Buchman Attorney of the Year Award recognizes attorneys who have made outstanding contributions to Local Government Law.  Mr. Linn was selected for the award in 2020, but the presentation of the award was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Linn has represented Florida local governments in pension and employee benefits matters for over 40 years. He advises public employers and pension boards on federal and state laws pertaining to governmental retirement plans and works closely with local governments and pension actuaries in restructuring retirement benefit programs and preparing pension plan documents and amendments. Mr. Linn is a former Chair of the CCLGLS and was the 2011 recipient of the Ralph A. Marsicano Award for his significant contributions to the development of local government law in Florida, presented by the CCLGLS. He has been included in the Best Lawyers in America© since 2009 in the areas of labor and employment law and employee benefits (ERISA) law. To learn more, visit https://www.llw-law.com/attorneys/james-w-linn/.

Additionally, LLW attorney Glenn E. Thomas received the 2021 Chair Service Award for his outstanding service to the CCLGLS of the Florida Bar.  Glenn has been an active member of the CCLGLS Executive Council for many years and has coordinated the Section’s annual Public Employment Labor Relations Forum since 2015.

Mr. Thomas is board certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in City, County and Local Government Law and has been practicing law for 20 years. He assists public entity clients in local government, pension, labor and employment law matters. Prior to becoming an attorney, he served as a deputy sheriff for more than ten years with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. To learn more, visit https://www.llw-law.com/attorneys/glenn-e-thomas/.


LLW Attorneys Recognized as 2021 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Lewis, Longman & Walker is pleased to announce the following attorneys have been selected to the 2021 Florida Super Lawyers list, sharing this designation with only 5% of all attorneys in Florida:

The following LLW attorneys have been selected to the 2021 Florida Rising Stars list, sharing this designation with only 2.5% of all attorneys in Florida:

LLW attorneys Terry Lewis and Wayne Flowers have reached the milestone of being named to the Super Lawyers list for the 15th consecutive year.  Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are nominated by fellow attorneys who have personally observed them in action, whether as opposing counsel, co-counsel or through other firsthand observations in the courtroom.  Attorney backgrounds and professional achievements are researched before the final decision is made to include them in the lists.


LLW Receives “Band 1” Ranking in Environmental Law by Chambers and Partners

For the 13th year in a row, Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. (LLW) has been recognized by Chambers and Partners with a Band 1 ranking in Environmental Law. LLW is one of only four law firms in Florida to receive this top-tier ranking.

Additionally, four shareholders from LLW have been recognized as leaders in environmental law in the Guide: Terry E. LewisR. Steven LewisStephen A. Walker and Alfred J. Malefatto.

Chambers and Partners is one of the world’s most respected and longest-standing directories in the legal profession. Each year, Chambers conducts thousands of in-depth interviews with clients in order to assess the reputations and experience of lawyers in various practice areas.

For more information about Chambers and Partners, click here.


LLW Shareholder Brenna Durden Certified by Supreme Court of Florida as a Circuit Mediator

Brenna Malouf Durden, a shareholder in the Jacksonville office of Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A., has recently been certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Circuit Mediator.

Ms. Durden’s practice focuses on governmental, land use, environmental and administrative law. Her clients include landowners, developers, local governments, banks, manufacturers, industrial and educational facilities in matters related to land development, community redevelopment, real estate transactions, hazardous materials, brownfields, contamination and remedial actions, solid waste and air quality regulation.

Brenna is the Chair of LLW’s Governmental Law Practice Group and has experience in transactional due diligence, administrative, environmental and land use litigation. She is AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Land Use and Zoning Law, Real Estate Law, and Real Estate Litigation for many years. She received the Ultimate Attorney Award from the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2018 and was listed as one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Florida Legal Elite in the area of Environmental and Land Use Law in 2019 and 2020. She was named 2020 Land Use & Zoning “Lawyer of the Year” in Jacksonville by Best Lawyers in America.

Brenna serves as the City Attorney to Atlantic Beach, Florida. She is the Immediate Past President of the Florida Redevelopment Association and has served on that Board of Directors since 2010. She previously served on the Board of the First Coast Manufacturers Association. Brenna served on the Board of the Downtown Investment Authority from 2015-2018 and, in November of 2018, was appointed to the City of Jacksonville Downtown Development Review Board.

She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida College of Law.  Brenna completed her post-graduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning at California Polytechnic University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida.  She can be reached at bdurden@llw-law.com or at (904) 353-6410.


LLW Attorney Robert P. Diffenderfer Elected Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches

Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. (LLW) attorney Robert P. Diffenderfer was recently elected Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.  Robert is an active member of the Chamber, serving as General Counsel and as a Trustee.  He will become Chair-Elect of the Chamber in November 2021, and then Chair in November 2022.

The Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches is a proactive organization that achieves results and meets community needs.  Established in 1938, the organization provides its members services in the areas of advocacy, professional development, and education. For more information about the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, click here.

Mr. Diffenderfer is a founding member of LLW and has practiced law for over 35 years. He maintains a diverse governmental practice involving complex environmental and land use matters, including representation before local, state and federal legislative and regulatory bodies; growth management counseling; comprehensive plan adoption, implementation and defense; DRI approval and implementation; environmental resource permitting, and related litigation. His practice also includes projects relating to special district creation, operation and administration, as well as representation of local general-purpose governments on a variety of specialized governmental, growth management and natural resource issues.  He can be reached at rdiffenderfer@llw-law.com or at (561) 640 -0820.


Riparian Rights in Florida Update

Attorneys Andrew BaumannKevin Hennessy, and Richard Green present LLW’s second Riparian Rights in Florida Update featuring a discussion of whether a property owner has (or does not have) riparian rights and an overview of how riparian lines are drawn.  The attorneys utilize various Florida cases to highlight the nuances in riparian rights law.  For questions concerning the cases discussed in the Update or any other questions regarding riparian rights, please contact Andrew Baumann at abaumann@llw-law.comKevin Hennessy at khennessy@llw-law.com or Richard Green at rgreen@llw-law.com.


Expert Witness in the Zoom Era

In the webinar recorded on March 31, 2021 LLW attorneys Kevin Hennessy, Amy Taylor Petrick and Frederick Aschauer, Jr. present details on how to be an effective expert witness in the zoom era.


LLW’s Government Relations Specialist Kasey Lewis Graduates from American University

Congratulations to LLW’s Government Relations Specialist Kasey Lewis for graduating with her master’s degree in public administration and policy from the American University. Click here to learn more about Kasey.


2021 Retirement Legislation – End of Session Report

By: Glenn E. ThomasJanice Rustin and Jim Linn

The 2021 legislative session ended on April 30th with the passage of only one retirement bill – the FRS employer contribution rate bill (SB 7018), which is a “must pass” measure as part of the state budget.  A bill (SB 84) that would have closed the FRS pension plan for members hired on or after July 1, 2022 passed the Senate, but died in the House.

Copies of any bill can be viewed at the legislature’s website: www.leg.state.fl.us.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

SB 7018 FRS Employer Contributions (Governmental Oversight and Accountability)

SB 7018 contains the FRS employer contribution rates for the year beginning July 1, 2021.  The contribution rates are intended to fund the full normal cost as well as the amortization payment for unfunded actuarial liabilities, as reflected in the July 1, 2020 actuarial valuation.  The bill provides the following employer contribution rates:

Note: the above employer contribution rates do not include the 1.66% FRS health insurance subsidy contribution or the 0.06% employer assessment for administrative and educational expenses.  Also, the above employer contribution rates do not reflect the 3% member contribution.

Although, the Senate and House agreed on the FRS employer contribution rates, they initially disagreed on a change in contribution rates to fund the health insurance subsidy for retirees.  In addition to monthly retirement payments, a retiree under FRS and other state-administered retirement systems is eligible to receive monthly health insurance subsidy (HIS) payments of $5.00 per month for each year of FRS service, up to $150 per month.  To fund this benefit, participating employers must contribute an amount in addition to regular employer retirement contributions. The Senate bill (SB 7018), as it initially passed the Senate, would have decreased the HIS contribution rate from 1.66% to 1.50%, effective July 1, 2021.  A House companion (HB 5007) introduced on March 31st did not include the reduction in HIS contributions.

SB 7018 was passed by the Senate and sent to the House on April 7.  The Senate requested that the House pass the bill as passed by the Senate or agree to include the bill in the Budget Conference.  Following the adoption of an amendment removing the health subsidy contribution reduction, the House substituted SB 7018 for HB 5007 and passed the bill on April 8th. The Conference Committee recommended no reduction in health subsidy contributions. The Conference Committee recommendation was adopted and SB 7018 passed both chambers on April 30, maintaining the current 1.66% HIS contribution.  Click here to view the full article.


LLW Secures Victory on Appeal in Favor of the Lido Key Beach Renourishment Project

On April 14, 2021, the Second District Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the case of Siesta Key Association of Sarasota, Inc., et.al. (“SKA”) v. City of Sarasota and Lido Key Residents Association, Inc. (“LKRA”), Case No. 2D19-3833, affirming the lower court’s dismissal of a complaint seeking injunctive relief pursuant to Section 403.412, Florida Statutes.  This decision is another win for the City and LKRA related to the beach renourishment project for Lido Key which SKA has endeavored to stop over the last four years in several forums.  The beach renourishment project, which was performed during the pendency of the appeal, dredged a near shore sand shoal in Big Sarasota Pass as a long-term sand source for the renourishment of Lido Key Beach.  The restoration project also included the construction of several groins to stabilize the beach in the vicinity of a county park.  The appellate court upheld the dismissal based on Section 403.412(2)(e), Florida Statutes, the plain language of which states that no action under Section 403.412 may be maintained if the person or governmental agency or authority is acting pursuant to a currently valid permit.  SKA argued that despite the project being performed pursuant to a valid permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection (which was also challenged by SKA in 2017 and defended by LKRA and the attorneys at Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.), an additional permit from Sarasota County was required and had never been obtained.  The  appellant court  noted that Section 403.412 (2)(e) does not require that the person or government hold every potentially relevant permit and declined to extend the language of the statute to encompass SKA’s argument.  In a footnote the court also noted a potential second ground to uphold the trial court decision, that Section 403.412 (2)(a) provide a means to enjoin laws, rules or regulations, but is silent as to local county ordinances.

Kevin S. Hennessy, Nicole Poot, and Richard Green of LLW’s St. Petersburg office have represented LKRA throughout the challenges to the beach renourishment project including the appeal.  An award of appellate attorney’s fees for LKRA and the City of Sarasota was also granted by the Court.


LLW Attorneys to Present at the Florida Chamber’s Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School

LLW attorneys will participate in the Florida Chamber’s 35th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School July 20-23rd in Marco Island. LLW is proud to be a long-time supporter of the event. Eight LLW attorneys will present at the conference this year:

Tuesday, July 20

  • Kathryn Rossmell will participate in a panel titled Something Old, Something New – Ethics and Technology for Environmental Professionals On the Go

Wednesday, July 21

  • Lori Killinger will participate in a panel titled Florida’s Environment, Water Policy, the 2021 Legislature and Beyond
  • Andrew Baumann will moderate a panel titled Permitting and Development in the Coastal Marine Environment
  • Frederick Aschauer, Jr. will participate in a panel titled Strategies for Avoiding Litigation under NEPA, CWA, and ESA and Updates on Evolving Regulations and Policies Under the New Biden Administration
  • Stephen Walker will participate in a panel titled Lake Okeechobee and The Estuaries: A Water Management Balancing Act
  • Brenna Durden will participate in a panel titled Recent Developments in Property Rights

Thursday, July 22

  • Alfred Malefatto will participate in a panel titled Hot Topics/Emerging Issues in Waste Management
  • Frederick Aschauer, Jr. will moderate a panel titled Coastal Construction Control Line Permitting
  • Seth Behn will moderate a panel titled Emerging Trends in Transportation Planning and Infrastructure: How Do We Get There from Here?

For more information about the conference, click here.

LLW Co-Sponsored the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s Creation of an Earth Day Coloring Book

LLW was proud to co-sponsor the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium as they marked this year’s Earth Day by creating a bilingual coloring book “Restoring Our Earth, Protecting Our Community.” The coloring books are available to download here. Students attending Title I Schools in Palm Beach County received the coloring books with crayons and individual paint kits with broader distribution to audiences of all ages through Earth Day partners: Angari Foundation, Everglades Foundation, Florida Crystals, Friends of Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Manatee Lagoon: An FPL Eco-Discovery Center and the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center.

To learn more about the program, click here to review a recent article in the Palm Beach Society Magazine.


LLW Welcomes Summer Associate Loren Humphrey

On May 17th, LLW welcomed Loren Humphrey as a Summer Associate, working virtually from the Jacksonville office. Ms. Humphrey is currently in her second year of law school at Michigan State University College of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Florida. LLW’s Summer Associate Program is open to first-year and second-year law students, offering hands-on legal experience and the opportunity to build relationships with industry professionals.


Firm News

On April 20, 2021, Division of Administrative Hearings Administrative Law Judge Andrew Manko issued his recommendation that Dolores Givens be granted an exemption from disqualification in the case of Givens v. Florida Department of Education.  On June 23, 2021, the Department adopted the Recommended Order in full, paving the way for the Butterfly Village Kids College to apply for accreditation to receive state scholarship funds and continue to serve local preschool age children. This concludes a nearly 2-year legal fight for Ms. Givens to show the Department she is fit to continue her passion to educate children. LLW’s Richard Green represented Ms. Givens and can be reached at rgreen@llw-law.com.

LLW attorney Kathryn Rossmell was recently re-elected to the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, which serves as a vital business and community resource to its more than 650 member businesses. Kathryn’s practice focuses on land use, environmental, local government and natural resources law. For more information about the Chamber, visit https://www.pbnchamber.com/.

LLW attorneys Janice Rustin and Glenn Thomas gave a presentation on benefits available  to firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer under Florida’s Firefighter Cancer Bill at the Florida Association of County Attorneys Annual CLE Seminar on July 1, 2021 in Orlando.

LLW attorney Frederick Aschauer, Jr. gave a presentation during the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association (FSBPA) Florida Water and Land Conservation Implementation Update Webinar on June 23, 2021.

LLW attorney Jim Linn participated in the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys Virtual Conference June 22-24, 2021.

LLW was a proud sponsor of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce Leadership Awards on June 17, 2021 in Jupiter. LLW attorney Kathryn Rossmell serves on the  Chamber’s Board of Directors.

LLW sponsored the Florida Association of Special Districts Annual Conference June 14-17, 2021 in Orlando.  LLW attorneys Terry Lewis, Chris Lyon and Seth Behn presented at the conference.

LLW attorney Robert Angus Williams participated in the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Annual Conference June 15-17, 2021 in Marco Island.

LLW attorney Telsula Morgan was Co-Chair of the Men of Excellence Virtual Celebration on June 13, 2021. The event was hosted by the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and honored community leaders and organizations for their excellence.

The West Palm Beach Mayor’s Task Force on Racial & Ethnic Equality hosted an Action Summit on June 12, 2021. The mission of the Mayor’s Task Force for Racial and Ethnic Equality is to identify and help address issues of racial/ethnic equity through education about racial and ethnic inequities, research of best practices, and issuance of policy/funding recommendations to address racial/ethnic inequity in the City of West Palm Beach.  LLW President and Shareholder Michelle Diffenderfer serves as co-chair of the Task Force.

LLW attorneys Kenneth Dodge and William Capko participated in the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches Golf Tournament on June 11, 2021 at the Breakers Golf Course in West Palm Beach.  LLW was a proud sponsor of the event.

LLW sponsored the Leadership Palm Beach County’s Leadership Celebration on June 3, 2021 at the South Florida Science Museum.

LLW was a proud sponsor of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association (JWLA) Annual Judicial Reception on June 2, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field.

LLW sponsored RiverFest 2021 hosted by the City of Green Cove Springs on Memorial Day.

LLW attorneys participated in the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches 2021 Business Awards Breakfast on May 26, 2021 in West Palm Beach.

LLW was a proud sponsor of the Urban League of Palm Beach County’s 47th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Virtual Celebration on May 20, 2021. The event honored individuals in the community for their service in improving the lives of children, adults and seniors in Palm Beach County. LLW attorney Alfred Malefatto is a member of the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Palm Beach County.

LLW attorney Alfred Malefatto moderated “Let’s Talk about the Future of Work Space: A Virtual Panel Discussion on the Current State of Commercial, Industrial and Retail Real Estate” hosted by the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce on May 19, 2021.

LLW attorneys Frederick Aschauer, Jr. and Robert Angus Williams participated in the Association of Florida Community Developers (AFCD) Board Meeting on May 14, 2021 in Orlando. The mission of AFCD is to provide a leadership role in the creation of quality community development and the formulation of a responsible approach to the planning and development of Florida’s future.

LLW was a proud sponsor of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies of Palm Beach County (HMHB) Moments Celebration May 7-8, 2021. Guests had the opportunity to celebrate in smaller virtual or in-person “bubbles” to honor the women in their lives. LLW’s Tara Duhy is a Board Member of HMHB and Kathryn Rossmell served on the Planning Committee for the event.

LLW was honored to participate in Community Denim Day on April 30, 2021.  Funds raised from the community effort support Families First of Palm Beach County, an organization that has been providing services to successfully prevent child abuse for over 30 years.

LLW was a proud sponsor of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (ABA SEER) 50th Annual Spring Conference which was held virtually April 27-30, 2021. This year’s conference had a special focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice in the practice of law. The program featured presentations reflecting on 50 years of environmental law and action, informative CLE sessions, and a 50th anniversary celebration. LLW’s Michelle Diffenderfer serves as Chair-Elect of ABA SEER.

LLW President and Shareholder Michelle Diffenderfer presented “McGirt v. Oklahoma–Will the Supreme Court’s Decision Spill Over Into Water Rights?” on April 21, 2021 at the 2021 California Water Law & Policy MCLE Conference.

LLW attorney Frederick Aschauer, Jr. recently presented “Development in Florida: Overview of Federal and State Environmental Statutes” for the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar. The presentation focused on Environmental Law 101 with an emphasis on development for real property practitioners. The recording of the presentation is available for purchase here: https://lnkd.in/e-Buaq3

LLW President and Shareholder Michelle Diffenderfer participated in the 2021 SleepIn for SleepOut event on April 9, 2021. Proceeds from the event supported The Lord’s Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing innovative, compassionate and effective services to men, women and children in Palm Beach County.

LLW was a proud sponsor of the Palm Beach County Florida Association of Women Lawyers Virtual Judicial Appreciation Luncheon on March 24, 2021.