Joan Carlos Wizel chairs the Appellate Practice Group. He is also a member of the Government Liability Division and General Litigation Practice Group in the Miami office of Lydecker | Diaz.
As appellate counsel, Mr. Wizel represents clients across a broad range of legal matters in state and federal appellate courts. He also provides litigation support to trial attorneys, including in the preparation of complex pre-trial and dispositive motions, jury instructions, post-trial motions, and trial consulting to optimize our clients’ position for success at the trial and appellate levels.
Mr. Wizel’s trial practice encompasses federal and state civil litigation, with a primary focus on government liability—including constitutional law and civil rights litigation—representing municipalities, state agencies, state universities, school boards and districts, charter schools, special taxing districts, water management districts, and public officials and officers. His trial practice also comprises professional liability litigation—representing attorneys and other professionals charged with malpractice, errors, and omissions—and complex business litigation.
Leadership, Membership & Honors
Before joining Lydecker | Diaz, while completing his legal studies, Mr. Wizel served as a judicial intern to The Honorable Raoul G. Cantero, III, former Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, and as a judicial extern to The Honorable Leon M. Firtel, Circuit Court Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.
Areas of Expertise
- Samuel Eferstein v. City of Margate, 16-61694-Civ-Scola (S.D. Fla. March 24, 2017) — successfully defended 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action representing a municipality and its police officers in a case filed by a former officer who alleged that he was retaliated against after he complained about, and threatened to publicly reveal, improper conduct within the department, and also asserted claims of malicious prosecution and conspiracy.
- Espinoza v. Harrelson, 6:15-cv-1923-Orl-37GJK, 2016 WL 3926497 (M.D. Fla. July 21, 2016) — obtained dismissal with prejudice in favor of a city charged with a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 municipal liability claim relating to § 1983 claims for excessive force against several of its police officers.
- VP Properties & Developments, LLP v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Company, 645 Fed. Appx. 912 (11th Cir. 2016) — successfully defended appellate challenge to favorable ruling for insurer in declaratory judgment action.
- Okeechobee Aerie 4137 v. Wilde, 199 So. 3d 333 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) — successfully represented local establishment in overturning what at the time was reported as the largest verdict in Okeechobee County in a case that clarifies the protective nature of the DRAM Shop Act, the proper legal basis of a claim limited by the Act, the derivative nature of the claim that precludes the inclusion of the drunkard person as a Fabre defendant, and the interplay between the Responsible Vendor Act and the DRAM Shop Act.
- K.W. v. Lee County Sch. Bd., 67 F. Supp. 3d 1330 (M.D. Fla. 2014) — obtained dismissal of action under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 in favor of school board and its employees for purported failure to train, deliberate indifference, failure to investigate and discipline misconduct, violations of equal protection (class-of-one) and substantive due process, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- Young Apartments, Inc. v. Town of Jupiter, Fla., 529 F.3d 1027 (11th Cir. 2008), on subsequent appeal 406 Fed. Appx. 376, 2010 WL 5174956 (11th Cir. Dec. 22, 2010), and — Fed. Appx. —, 2013 WL 69215 (11th Cir. Jan. 7, 2013) — successfully represented government officials in charge of enforcement of overcrowding ordinance in federal equal protection action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and persuaded the courts to award attorney’s fees and costs against the plaintiff and its attorneys for their pursuit of the action.
- Bond v. Baggett, No. 11-61108 (S.D. Fla. 2012) — successfully represented Federal Aviation Administration officials in federal action involving Bivens supervisory liability claims for alleged violations of due process rights afforded by the Fifth Amendment and related state law claims.
- Hochberg v. Thomas Carter Painting, Inc., 63 So. 3d 861 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011) — successfully represented subcontractor on the prevailing argument that the statute of limitations for defects on new construction begins running from discovery of the defect, not from discovery of the precise nature of the defects or discovery of the defect’s specific cause.
- Florida Atlantic University Bd. of Trustees v. Lindsey, 50 So. 3d 1205 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) — successfully represented public university in appeal involving intricacies of the relationship between the university and leaders of student-led and student-run organizations in relation to the limited waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions under section 768.28, Florida Statutes.
- O’Donnell v. Derrig, 346 Fed. Appx. 385, 2009 WL 2501957 (11th Cir. 2009) — successfully represented police officer in defense of claims involving, inter alia, allegations of warrantless arrest without probable cause, excessive force, unlawful seizure, and deliberate indifference to medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
- TheStreet.com, Inc. v. Carroll, 20 So. 3d 947 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009) — successfully represented leading digital financial media company in appeal involving protection of documents and information under the Florida journalist’s privilege.
- Leysoto v. Mama Mia I., Inc., 255 F.R.D. 693 (S.D. Fla. 2009) — successfully defeated class certification on behalf of locally-owned restaurant in a putative class action seeking redress under a federal consumer protection statute, persuading the court that, as a matter of first impression in the Eleventh Circuit, class action is not the superior method of adjudication when the proposed class recovery is potentially annihilatory to the defendant and disproportionate to plaintiffs’ actual economic injury.
- Berg v. Merchants Ass’n Collection Div., Inc., 586 F. Supp. 2d 1336 (S.D. Fla. 2008) — represented reputable debt collection agency in action involving question of first impression on the interpretation of a federal consumer protection statute with widespread industry repercussions.
- Crowley Museum and Nature Center, Inc. v. Southwest Florida Water Management Dist., 993 So. 2d 605 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008) — represented governmental agency responsible for managing and protecting water resources of South Florida in case involving, inter alia, complex claims and issues of inverse condemnation.
News & Publications
- Course & Scope of Employment vs. Scope of Employment: Sometimes, Neither is it the Same Nor is it Equal by Onier Llopiz and Joan Carlos Wizel (Oct. 2016)
- Miami Herald: Walmart wins challenge over Midtown Miami store (Aug. 29, 2015)
- FDIC Wins $4.9M From WaMu’s Title Insurer For Loan Fraud (Sept. 4, 2014)
- CBS News: City Commissioners Reject Appeal To Block Midtown Miami Walmart (Nov. 21, 2013)
- Miami Herald: Walmart gets OK from zoning appeals board for Midtown store (Oct. 2, 2013)
- DBR: Insurers Need Not Be Afraid Of Reporting Suspected Insurance Fraud (April 29, 2013)
- FDIC Sues 2 Title Insurers Over $7.7M WaMu Fraud (Oct. 4, 2012)