William R. Clayton

William R. Clayton

Shareholder; Co-Chair, Real Estate Litigation Practice

William R. Clayton maintains a national civil trial practice, having tried more than 100 cases in state and federal courts, and has won more than $100 million in jury verdicts (for both plaintiff and the defense).

William has been reported in the 2015 edition of The Legal 500 United States Guide to Outstanding Lawyers, in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America and in the 2015 South Florida Legal Guide among "Top Lawyers." He has been named in the 2014 Business edition of Super Lawyers among "Top Attorneys in Business Litigation" in the United States; and in "Super Lawyers in Florida" by Super Lawyers (top 5% of Florida lawyers). William has also been recognized by corporate counsel for his superior client service in the BTI Client Service All-Stars 2015 report. In 2015, William was selected as "Trial Lawyer of the Year" by the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). He was nominated Defense Lawyer of the Year for State of Florida (FLABOTA) in 2014.

 

Outside of Florida, William was included among top litigation attorneys in New York City based on peer review rating in Avenue magazine's 2010 and 2011 "Legal Elite"; among "Top Lawyers" in Class Action Litigation in Vegas Inc. in 2013; and in the "Top Lawyers in Southern Nevada, 2012 and 2013" by Desert Companion magazine.

William is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. In both Florida and Nevada, he is board certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer. William has been rated AV Preeminent® by the peer review rating publication, Martindale-Hubbell®. He was selected by invitation as a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America, which is limited to less than .5% of American lawyers. He is a member of Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an organization whose membership is limited to trial attorneys who have achieved verdicts of $1 million or more. After winning verdict in a $70 million state court trial, a prominent judge described his legal services at trial as "wow man" and "brilliant."

William focuses his practice on commercial litigation and is frequently retained as lead trial counsel by NYSE and Nasdaq companies (on both plaintiff and defense sides). He is Co-Chair of the firm's Real Estate Litigation Practice.

Concentrations

  • Class action litigation
  • Construction litigation
  • Employment litigation
  • Financial services litigation
  • Insurance litigation, including bad faith
  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Jury trials
  • Pharmaceutical and medical device litigation
  • Product liability litigation
  • Real property and title insurance litigation
  • Securities and shareholder litigation
  • Sports law
  • Subprime and mortgage markets litigation
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Capabilities

Experience

 

  • Won a $5 million jury trial in West Palm Beach in a breach of contract, civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference case for retired Fort Lauderdale-based concert promotion company owner and restaurateur.
  • Defeated a $3 million bad faith claim against one of the largest medical malpractice insurers in the United States, and the decision was affirmed on appeal.
  • Within 20 minutes of the jury retiring to deliberate, our client, an affiliate of a large U.S. insurance company, received a complete defense verdict in an insurance coverage and breach of contract case in Miami federal court.
  • Represented one of the largest condominium developers in the U.S. defending against a condominium association claiming damages in excess of $8 million, involving 25 parties, where the case settled with our client paying nothing to the plaintiff (or anyone else) and at the same time the developer recovered approximately $1 million from the general contractor.
  • Defended one of the world's largest hotel affiliates against a multimillion-dollar claim by a condominium association, where the plaintiff was paid zero and had to pay our client $20,000 to settle the case.
  • Defended in Florida federal district court a national energy company based in California, against the holder, a multimillion-dollar credit facility, where we asserted a usury defense and in settling the case, our client paid nothing to the lender.
  • Represented two doctors and one of the most prominent medical laboratories in the U.S. in a two-week jury trial where the plaintiff (a shareholder and former "at will" employee) asserted numerous claims for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract and sought about $17 million in damages, plus punitive damages, against our clients. Granted a "zero" verdict. Following that result, obtained an award of attorney's fees and costs in excess of $1 million against the plaintiff, where the state court trial judge in the order described his legal services at  trial as "wow-man" and "brilliant."
  • Represented the developer of the tallest building on the Gulf Coast from Florida to New Orleans, who was awarded a judgment for $41.5 million in a two-week federal jury trial involving breach of a builder’s risk insurance policy.
  • Within weeks of engagement, defeated an action, based upon a $62 million real estate contract, for specific performance and a lis pendens recorded against a Las Vegas hotel and casino located near the Strip.
  • Within approximately three weeks of our engagement by a major insurance company, resolved an alleged bad faith claim, without ever having to file an answer to the complaint.
  • Within three months after filing suit for a professional football player, obtained a judgment granting specific performance and conveyance of real property valued at approximately $2 million. Obtained an award for attorney's fees and costs of $350,000 with an appeal in a per curiam decision just six days after oral argument.
  • Obtained a voluntary dismissal with prejudice for a client in an alleged sexual harassment case in California, where a co-defendant was a national sports organization, two months before a jury trial and without paying a dime.
  • As a result of a state court lawsuit filed on behalf of one of the oldest families in the U.S., and in a probate litigation setting, concluded the setting aside of an under-market real estate contract for the sale of the real property and a re-sale of the property resulting in a gain for the client in excess of approximately $9 million.
  • In a products liability case involving a manufacturing machine, where the plaintiff's demand was approximately $2 million for the loss of use of his right arm after an accident, obtained a summary judgment for the manufacturer on the strict liability, warning label and manufacturing defect counts of the complaint.
  • Defended a Nasdaq company in a multimillion-dollar federal jury trial involving the sale of computer software for cellular communications in Central America, where the jury, on our counterclaim for breach of contract, asked the court if it could award our client more money than requested, attorneys' fees, costs and interest.
  • Defended an alleged engineering malpractice in a multimillion-dollar jury case for the design of a cofferdam in a major river.
  • A million-dollar jury trial where the jury, in basically a breach of contract action, awarded treble damages and asked the court if it could award punitive damages, attorneys' fees and interest.
  • Defended a major university concerning the construction and design of its natural and artificial turf football fields in a nationally publicized jury trial.
  • Defended one of the largest real estate developers in Las Vegas in a jury trial.
  • Defended one of the largest international overnight delivery companies and obtained judgments for attorneys' fees and costs against plaintiffs alleging sick building syndrome.
  • Obtained a jury verdict from a federal jury concerning the retrofitting of a $14 million yacht.
  • Defended (in New York) a $300 million intellectual property case, where the plaintiff's claims, against one of the largest auto rental companies in the nation, asserted trademark and Lanham Act violations.
  • Obtained a settlement of $4.9 million in a breach of contract case three months prior to trial and for our client's investment of a few hundred thousand dollars.
  • Defended numerous federal court actions protecting the intellectual property rights of one of the most famous Las Vegas casinos and hotels against the unlicensed use of federally registered trademarks.
  • Defended one of the largest computer software and hardware companies in the world in a product liability case filed in federal district court and obtained a dismissal with prejudice of the case, without having to pay the plaintiffs.
  • Defended serious charges and complaints filed by the Florida Board of Professional Engineers against an engineer and one of the largest swimming pool contractors in Florida before an Administrative Law Judge, defeating the board on the merits and recovering attorneys fees' against the board.
  • Defeated a lawsuit by an Independent gubernatorial candidate seeking to become a third participant in the first televised debate for Governor of Florida scheduled between republican candidate Charlie Crist and democratic candidate, Jim Davis, based upon First Amendment grounds.
  • Defended a major nationwide trucking company from claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
  • Represented a $300 million scaffolding services company in a lawsuit for tortuous interference against a competitor and for breach of employment agreements against former key employees.
  • Obtained a temporary injunction against an international sports organization that had instituted a life-ban against an athlete for alleged anti-doping violations.
  • Obtained arbitration award for a major university concerning the construction of its soccer fields.
  • Prosecuted claims in federal district court, on behalf of one of the largest U.S. banks, against a commercial borrower and defended against a lender liability counterclaim, where the amount in controversy was in excess of $10 million.
  • Represented one of the largest parcel post companies in the world in a dispute with a general contractor over the construction of a major distribution center.
  • Represented one of the largest computer companies in the world in a dispute with a general contractor over the construction of a turbine engine generator for information systems.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation; Litigation - Construction; Litigation - Intellectual Property; Litigation - Real Estate, 2010-2017
  • Team Member, U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, Best Law Firms Edition, "Law Firm of the Year," Real Estate - Litigation, 2017
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Florida Super Lawyers, 2009-2016
    • "Top 100 Attorneys in Miami," 2011
  • Listed, South Florida Legal Guide, "Top Lawyer," Litigation, 2012-2016
  • Named, Client Service All-Star, BTI Client Service All-Stars Report, 2015
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, Litigation – Commercial Litigation, 2015
  • Nominated, Defense Lawyer of the Year for State of Florida (FLABOTA), 2014
  • Listed, VEGAS INC, "Top Lawyers," Class Action Litigation, 2013
  • Listed, Desert Companion magazine, "Top Lawyers in Southern Nevada," 2012 and 2013
  • Team Member, a Law360 "Employment Practice Group of the Year," 2011 & 2013
  • Listed, Florida Trend magazine, "Legal Elite," Employment Law, 2011
  • Selected, Super Lawyers and Corporate Counsel magazine, "Top Attorneys in Business Litigation," 2011
  • Team Member, a Law360 "Product Liability Practice Group of the Year," 2011
  • Listed, Wall Street Journal (Florida Edition), "Top 100 Attorneys in Miami," June 16, 2011
  • Listed,  Avenue magazine (New York Edition), "Legal Elite," Employment Law, October 2010, October 2011
  • Selected, South Florida Daily Business Review, Complex Business Litigation Finalist, "Most Effective Lawyers," 2008
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5

AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Board Certified Business Litigation Lawyer, The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education
  • Board Certified Civil Pretrial Practice Lawyer, National Board of Civil Pretrial Practice Advocacy
  • Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate, National Board of Trial Advocacy
  • Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education
  • Civil Trial Advocacy Specialist, Nevada
  • Faculty Member, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center
  • Former Dean of College, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, Litigation Management College
  • Member, American Bar Association, Litigation Section
    • Torts & Insurance Practice Committee
    • Title Insurance Litigation Committee
    • Commercial & Business Litigation Committee
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Fort Lauderdale Chapter
    • President, Fort Lauderdale Chapter, 2013
    • Co-Chair of Programs, Fort Lauderdale Chapter, 2012-2013
    • National Board Representative, Fort Lauderdale Chapter
  • Member, American Inns of Court
  • Member, American Judicature Society
  • Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel
    • Former Chair, Construction, Fidelity, Surety & Public Contract Section
    • Former Vice-Chair, Projects & Objectives Committee
  • Member, John Henry Wigmore Club, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Member, Leadership Broward Foundation, Inc.
  • Member, Leadership Florida, Class XXV
  • Member, The Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Member, National Board of Trial Advocacy
  • Member, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Broward Foundation, Senior Executive Orientation
  • Member, Professionalism Panel, 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Florida
  • Treasurer, FLABOTA (Florida Chapters American Board of Trial Advocates) 
  • Board Member, Broward County Bar Association, Board of Directors
    • Member, Bench Bar Committee
    • Board Member, Board of Governors, 2014-2015
  • Member, The Florida Bar
    • Business Law Section
    • Trial Lawyers Section
  • Faculty Member, Litigation Management College, Emory University, 2013
  • Faculty Member, GT Litigation Skills Academy, Mediation/Negotiation Training, July 2010
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2010
  • Member, Northwestern University Leadership Circle, 2008-2009
  • Member, Professional Panel, 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Florida

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
  • B.S., with distinction, Northwestern University
Clerkships
  • Hon. Harlington Wood, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Admissions
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
  • U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York