Photo of Heath Gelman

Heath is a well-respected and zealous advocate for his clients in and outside of the courtroom. For 20 years, he has been passionately representing individuals and companies in matters of automobile negligence, premises liability, professional liability, first party insurance, and wrongful death.

Heath takes the time to truly listen to his clients’ needs and concerns and offers solutions to meet their goals. While he has the proficiency, skill and experience to try the most complex cases before a jury, Heath takes great pride in negotiating beneficial settlements on behalf of his clients in mediation and alternative dispute resolution to avoid costly litigation.

Heath brings a very unique perspective in evaluating matters, having initially served as defense counsel for a well-known insurance defense firm for the first thirteen years of his career, and then handling plaintiff personal injury matters and first party insurance claims for nearly seven years with one of the largest personal injury firms in the United States.

Heath also lectures to diverse audiences on various topics, including the use of store-captured surveillance video in litigation and the best practices to handle multiple competing claims with minimal policy limits.

Heath is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts, as well as the Federal Bar for the Middle District of Florida. He served as a school senator at both the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University.

Originally from New York, Heath has called Southwest Florida home since 2004. He currently resides in North Fort Myers with his wife Lisa, who is an elder law, wills and trust attorney, and their four active children. When not working, he enjoys time with his family, traveling, reading, enjoying the beach and the great Florida outdoors, and attending their children's athletic events.

On July 1, 2020, an Ingham Michigan Judge dismissed a claim of first impression, ruling in favor of an insurer’s decision to deny business interruption coverage due to the finding that the insured business owner did not suffer a direct physical loss under the policy.

Similar to many lawsuits on this uniquely 2020 issue, the case (Gavrilides Management Company v. Michigan Insurance Company) focused on whether there was a “direct physical loss of or damage to the insured’s property” which would trigger the coverage for business interruption. This particular claim centered on a business owners’ two restaurants in Lansing Michigan in the amount of $650,000.

The insurer argued that the business interruption coverage kicks in by an occurrence that actually alters or damages the property, which apparently did not occur. The claimant argued that non-destructive losses are also covered by the policy.
Continue Reading Recent COVID-19 Business Interruption Decision is a Win for Insurers

The coronavirus has impacted more than an individual’s health and well-being. In the wake of this global pandemic, many businesses have been impacted — whether it be from an order from local or state government or because it has been directly hit with employees or customers who were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Businesses have had to grapple with the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” and alter their budget to purchase PPE and other sanitary items. Projections for revenue for 2020 were obliterated in the process leaving business owners with difficult decisions in terms of whether it is worthwhile to remain open in a limited capacity, temporary closure, furloughs, layoffs, bankruptcy, or in some cases going out of business. The Payroll Protection Program instituted by the Federal Government has provided a temporary salve, however, in many cases business losses continue in big and small ways.

Business Interruption Insurance

The natural offshoot of this business and economic disruption for businesses is whether their business insurance coverage, for which its owners paid premiums month in and month out, ‘owe’ for business income lost, and additional expenses, due to a viral pandemic such as to COVID-19.

Multiple insurers are facing federal class action lawsuits for denying business interruption claims. Further, claims by business owners for business disruption losses have increased exponentially. This post endeavors to examine some of the issues that will be at the forefront for business owners, and carriers, as it pertains to COVID-19.

Coverage


Continue Reading What You Need to Know About COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance Coverage

It is not uncommon to see your fellow Florida motorists, head tilted downward and not on the road, utilizing their mobile device to text while their vehicle is in motion. Florida is now catching up to the rest of the country in one important area:  giving teeth to our texting while driving law. Enacted in 2013, Florida Statute 316.305, known as the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law”, is intended to improve roadway safety by preventing crashes related to the act of text messaging.

Secondary Offense Not Enough

This statute, however, only authorized law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations as a “secondary” offense to persons who were texting and driving. In other words, police were only able to cite motorists for texting if they were pulled over for other reasons, such as speeding or failure to yield. This law did little to curb accidents caused by “distracted driving”, which were numerous, and often deadly.


Continue Reading Florida Drivers Be Aware: Texting and Driving is a “Primary” Concern