In December, Gunster attorneys George S. LeMieux, Luna Phillips, and Lauren Marcil, won a partial final judgement before Judge Tuter, Chief Judge of the Broward County Circuit Court. The win was on behalf of a group of homeowners who own waterfront property near the Hillsboro Inlet in Broward County, Florida. The judge had previously invalidated the deed under which William Swaim, though his company Hillsboro Inlet Investments, LLC (HII) claimed ownership of portions of the homeowner’s property as well as land underneath the Atlantic Ocean. The homeowners countersued for slander of title and abuse of process and won on both counts.

Judge Tuter ruled in favor of the homeowners, affirming their riparian rights for the waterfront properties, which includes rights to access and use the water for recreational purposes. Additionally, the judge ruled that Swaim had slandered the titles of the properties and that Swaim had used “an illegal, improper, or perverted use of process, us[ed] the legal process for a purpose not intended and did so with an ulterior motive.” This ruling entitles the homeowners to seek attorneys’ fees from HII and Swaim.

This unique matter was made more complex because of legal issues concerning submerged lands, and tracing property titles back to the 1940s. Additional challenges included multiple changes in opposing counsel which resulted in repeated delays and the high stakes for homeowners whose homes and property were threatened. “It was personal,” said Phillips. “Access and use of the water is why people purchased homes in this neighborhood and to have it slandered was emotional. It was important to Gunster to defend their property rights.”

Gunster attorneys George S. LeMieux, Luna Phillips, and Lauren Marcil were supported by a deep bench of land use, property rights, and real estate attorneys within the firm. Gunster is known for its large and broad ranging real property team across the state of Florida. Phillips is the chair of the Environmental & Land Use team at Gunster, while LeMieux is a nationally recognized litigator and sought after counselor, and serves as Chairman of the law firm.

The Gunster attorneys noted that the vindication for the homeowners’ rights was a win not only for these clients, but they are hopeful it is a deterrent for future claims by William Swaim or other actors who seek to claim the riparian rights of homeowners in other waterfront neighborhoods.


About Gunster 

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 13 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa Bayshore, Tampa Downtown, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With more than 290 attorneys and consultants, and over 290 committed professional staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at


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