Berk, Merchant & Sims, PLC

Representing Multinational and Regional Insurers. We're coverage, liability and trial attorneys who serve the needs of insurers, and their insureds.

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Firm Overview

Berk, Merchant & Sims, PLC is often called upon to provide legal services, advice and representation to U.S. domestic and international insurers of commercial and personal lines business.

Our client list includes many well known commercial and personal lines insurers (See a list of some of our clients).

Although the firm was founded in 2005, many of our attorneys have specialized in our field for many years. Our three-most-experienced attorneys average 30 years of experience. In fact, our combined experience is more than 215 years. Problem-solvers first.

We help our clients resolve coverage disputes, property claims and litigation, third-party coverage issues, bad-faith claims and litigation, and general liability defense. We see ourselves as problem-solvers first. We help you keep a handle on your legal costs by providing you with an expeditious analysis of your issues and where possible resolving matters promptly. We respect that litigation can be costly, so we approach each file with individual attention, and provide advice on the best resolution strategy..If litigation is the best approach, our trial experience makes us a market leader.

In sum, we can get your issues resolved however you deem best, whether by trial, motion, or settlement.
Main Office

Main Office
2 Alhambra Plaza, Suite 700
Miami  FL  33134

Phone
  • 786-338-2900
Fax
  • 786-338-2888
Business
Experience when it matters most
Don't be deceived by the fact that the insurance defense attorneys at Berk, Merchant & Sims have been providing legal advice and representation to insurance companies and self-insured corporations for only eight years.

Because our staff of more than 15 attorneys brings extensive experience - more than 215 years - in handling insurance claims, insurance coverage issues and subrogation for national and regional insurance companies,as well as for international firms doing business in the United States, at every level of state and federal court.

Miami-based insurance defense attorneys
Based in Miami, Florida, Berk, Merchant & Sims is dedicated to providing your firm with a wide variety of legal services, including:
-Tort litigation of all varieties
-Claim management and apportionment services
-Insurance coverage opinion letters
-Declaratory judgments
-Reinsurance advice and disputes
-Bad-faith litigation
-Professional liability litigation
-Coverage opinion letters
-Insurance appellate litigation
-Arbitration and mediation

Our firm often helps insurance companies resolve problems involving insurance policy coverage. We analyze every provision to determine the extent of coverage that is warranted under the policy, and we prepare detailed opinion letters on those findings. We provide our client with an opinion letter, and we then seek to resolve the issues by filing a declaratory judgment action in court. However, in certain cases, litigation may become necessary to settle issues in dispute. If that occurs, rest assured that our attorneys have the knowledge and skill to get you the best possible results.

We also help insurance companies in situations involving third parties. Our attorneys often initiate subrogation claims against at-fault third parties so as to get reimbursement for any payments to insureds under their own policies.

Effective solutions with your best interests in mind
Although Berk, Merchant & Sims has forged its reputation through its litigation abilities, our attorneys commit their best efforts wherever possible to resolving your problems without resorting to court. We understand that litigation can become expensive, and we recognize that litigation may not be the best option in your case. For these reasons, our attorneys routinely use arbitration and mediation to settle disputes at a much-reduced cost, and we propose settlements that have your company's best interests in mind.

William S. Berk

Practice Areas: Property Insurance, First- and Third-Party Insurance Defense, First- and Third-Party Insurance Coverage, Insurance Bad-Faith Litigation, Insurance Fraud; General Liability, Subrogation, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Property Insurance, Extra Contractual Insurance Claims, Fire Insurance, Insurance Contracts, Insurance Investigations, Insurance Litigation, Property Insurance Coverage

Admitted: 1982, Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern, Northern and Middle Districts of Florida; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

Law School: University of Miami, J.D.

Member: Dade County, Federal and American (Member, Torts and Insurance Practice Section) Bar Associations; The Florida Bar (Past Chairman, Grievance Committee; Past Chairman, Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee); Florida Defense Lawyers Association; Defense Research Institute; Dade County Defense Bar Association; Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

Biography: Executive Editor, International Law Journal, University of Miami, 1982. Assistant State Attorney (Felony Division Chief), Dade County, Florida, 1982-1986. Certified Instructor, Florida Department of Financial Services. President, Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention, 2002. Florida Windstorm Insurance Network, President, 2013; 2007 Program Chair; Finalist, LexisNexis Insurance Law Center Insurer Attorney of the Year; Council on Litigation Management.

Representative Cases: QBE Insurance Corporation v. Chalfonte Condominium Apartment Ass'n., Inc., 2012 Fla. LEXIS 1063 (Fla. 2012); State Farm v. Gonzalez, 828 So. 2d 1021 (Fla. 2002); Banco Ficohsa v. Aseguradora, S.A. 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 11925 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. 2006); 224 W. Flagler Holdings, Inc. v. Terra Nova Ins. Co., 17 Fl. Law Weekly Fed. D444 (S.D. Fl. 2004); Saenz v. State Farm, 861 So. 2d 64 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. 2003); Solar Time Ltd. v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., 142 Fed. Appx. 430 (11th Cir. 2005); Am. Reliance Ins. Co. v. Kiet, 703 So. 2d 1190 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. 1997); State Farm v. Middleton, 648 So. 2d 1200 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. 1995); Lopez v. Southern Coatings, 580 So. 2d 864 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. 1991); Quadomain Condominium Ass'n., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34972 (S.D. Fl. 2007); Tower 1515 Condominium Apts. Ass'n., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73401 (S.D. Fl. 2006); Hess v. Fidelity Nat'l Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 2007 U.S. Dist LEXIS 10578 (N.D. Fl. 2007); Osting-Schwinn v. Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, 613 F. 3rd 1079 (11th Cir. 2010); Royal Marco Point 1 Condo Ass'n. v. QBE Insurance Corp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60940 (M.D. Fl. 2007); Dorset House Condo. Ass'n. v. QBE Insurance Corp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62298 (S.D. Fl. 2007); Underwriters at Lloyd's v. El-Ad Villagio Condo. Ass'n., 2008 Fla. App. LEXIS 714 (4 DCA 2008); Bonafonte v. Lexington Ins. Co., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65794 (S.D. FL. 2008); Buckley Towers Condo. Ass'n. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 613 F. 3rd 1079 (11th Cir. 200); Mayfair House Condo. Ass'n. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. 66456 (S.D. FL. 2008); Vantage View, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20938 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 3, 2009); Shaker Vill. Condo. Ass'n v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16483 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 18, 2009); Nirvana Condo. Ass'n v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100771 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 10, 2008); Isola Condo. Ass'n v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101165 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 24, 2008); QBE Ins. Corp. v. Dome Condo. Ass'n, 577 F. Supp. 2d 1256 (S.D. Fla. 2008); Page v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34310 (S.D. Fla. April 15, 2009).
Education
  • University of Miami
    J.D.

Evelyn M. Merchant

Practice Areas: Civil Litigation, Insurance Coverage, Products Liability, Premises Liability, Arbitration, Appraisal

Admitted: 1985, Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern and Middle Districts of Florida; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

Law School: Nova Southeastern University, J.D.

Member: The Florida Bar American Bar Association, Florida Defense Lawyers Association, Ft. Lauderdale Claims Association

Former Member, Board of Directors and Current Member, Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention; South Florida Claims Association; Former Member, Board of Directors, Children Genetic Disease Foundation; Board of Directors, Kids in Distress, Windstorm Insurance Network.

Born: Rockland, Maine

Melissa M. Sims

Practice Areas:
Insurance Defense, Insurance Coverage Litigation, First-Party Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith

Admitted: 1992: Louisiana
1996: Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Louisiana; U.S. District Court, Southern, Northern and Middle Districts of Florida
2006, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida

Law School: St. Thomas University, Miami, FL, J.D.

Member: Dade County, Federal and American (Torts and Insurance Practice Section) Bar Associations, Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention, Windstorm Insurance Network

Representative Cases: Solar Time Ltd. v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., 142 Fed. Appx. 430 (11th Cir. 2005); Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. Osting-Schwinn, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21844 (M.D. FL. 2006); Royal Marco Point 1 Condo Assn. v. QBE Insurance Corp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (M.D. Fl. 2007); Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. Osting-Schwinn, 545 F. Supp. 2d 1261 (M.D. FL. 2008); Buckley Towers Condo. Assn. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. 56195 (S.D. FL. 2008); Nirvana Condo. Assn. v. QBE Ins. Corp. 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100771 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 10, 2008); Underwriters at Lloyd's London v. Osting-Schwinn, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86786 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 30, 2008); Isola Condo. Assn. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101165 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 24, 2008).

Born: Sulphur, Louisiana

Gilberto J. Barreto

Practice Areas:Insurance Defense, Property Insurance Defense, General Liability Defense, Automobile Insurance Fraud Defense, Bad Faith, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), Automobile Defense

Admitted: 2002 Florida, 2003 U.S. District Court, Southern and Middle Districts of Florida

Law School:University of Florida, J.D.

Member:The Florida Bar

Languages:Spanish




Patrick E. Betar

Practice Areas: Insurance Defense (100%)

Admitted: 2005: Florida; and U.S. District Court, Southern and Northern Districts of Florida

Law School: Syracuse University, J.D.

Member: The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, Dade County Bar Association

Born: Glen Cove, New York

Evan M. Brooks

Practice Areas:Civil Litigation, Insurance Litigation (100%), Personal Injury Protection

Admitted:2009, Florida

Law School:University of Miami, J.D.

Born:Ithaca, New York



Andrew J. Chan

Practice Areas: Insurance Defense, Insurance Coverage

Admitted: 2009 Florida, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Law School:University of Miami School of Law, J.D. 2007

Member:Dade County Bar Association; The Florida Bar

Biography:2003 B.A. University of California, Berkeley

Born: California



Maria I. Fuxa

Practice Areas:Medical Malpractice; Insurance Defense; Nursing Home Litigation

Admitted:1995, Florida; 2001, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida and U. S. Supreme Court

Law School:St. Thomas University - Miami, FL, J.D.

Member:Dade County and Cuban American Bar Associations; The Florida Bar.

Biography:Registered Nurse, Florida, 1985. Licensed Health Care Risk Manager, 1996.

Born: Cuba

Languages: Spanish

Scott M. Janowitz

Practice Areas: First and Third-Party Insurance Defense (100%)

Admitted: 2006: Florida
2009: U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Law School: University of Miami, J.D.

Biography: Assistant State Attorney, Broward County, Florida, 2006-2009.

Born: Miami, Florida

Illon R. Kantro

Practice Areas: SIU/Fraud Litigation (33%), General Insurance Litigation (33%), Property Liability Litigation (33%)

Admitted:2006 Florida

Law School: University of Miami, J.D

Member: The Florida Bar (Member, Young Lawyers Division, 2006-)

Biography:Phi Alpha Delta. Recipient, Harvey Ford Memorial Scholarship

Born:Bayside, N.Y


Jocelyn Mroz

Practice Areas: First- and Third-Party Insurance

Admitted:2009, Florida

Law School:Valparaiso University, J.D.





Raluca S. Neagu

Practice Areas: First and Third-Party Insurance

Admitted: 2010, Florida

Law School: University of Detroit Mercy, J.D.

Languages: Romanian, French and Spanish

Alan Palma

Practice Areas: Insurance Litigation (50%), Property Insurance Coverage (50%)

Admitted:2009: Florida; 2010 U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; and U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

Law School:University of Miami, J.D.

Born:Buffalo, New York

Aleksey Shtivelman

Practice Areas: Civil Litigation, Insurance litigation

Admitted: 2012 Florida Bar, Middle District of Florida,
United States District Court,Southern District of Florida

Law School: Boston University School of Law J.D. 2012

Member: Florida Bar

Languages: Spanish and Russian





Jonathan D. Tobin

Practice Areas:Commercial Property Insurance First and Third-Party Insurance

Admitted:2009, Florida

Law School: Northeastern University, J.D.




William X. Xanttopoulos

Practice Areas: Commercial Litigation, Antitrust Law, Unfair Competition, Bankruptcy Law, Litigation, Legal and other Professional Malpractice, Insurance Commercial Insurance, First-Party Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Coverage

Admitted: 1981 New York; 1994: Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; U.S. Court of Appeals, Second and Ninth Circuits

Law School: The University of Texas School of Law, J.D.

Member: American Bar Association

Representative Cases: Lopez-Infante v. Union Central Life Insurance Co., 809 So.2d 13 (Fla. App. 3 Dist., 2002); Vines v. U.S., 28 F.3d 1123 (11th Cir. 1994); U.S. v. Garcia, 13 F.3d 1464 (11th Cir. 1994); U.S. v. Paul, 150 F.R.D. 696 (S.D.Fla.1993); U.S. v. Pena, 897 F.2d 1075 (11th Cir. 1990); U.S. v. Lopez-Lima, 738 F.Supp. 1404 (S.D. Fla. 1990); U.S. v. Fuente-Kolbenschlag, 878 F.2d 1377 (11th Cir. 1989); Dell'Orfano v. Scully, 692 F.Supp 226 (S.D.N.Y. 1988); U.S. v. Aleman, 832 F.2d 142 (11th Cir. 1987); U.S. v. Guevara 823 F.2d 446 (11th Cir 1987); Shoyo Shipping Co. Ltd v. Shipmair, B.V., 1986 WL 11607, 1986 A.M.C. 2374 (S.D.N.Y. 1986); General Electric Co. v. M.V. Nedlloyd Rouen, 618 F.Supp. 62 (S.D.N.Y. 1985); Hojgaard & Schultz A/S v. Transamerican S.S. Corp., 590 F.Supp. 916 (S.D.N.Y. 1984); Thyssen Steel Caribbean, Inc. v. Palma Armadora S.A., 1984 WL 905, 1985 A.M.C. 2840 (S.D.N.Y. 1984); Thyssen Steel Caribbean, Inc. v. Palma Armadora S.A., 1983 WL 674, 1984 A.M.C. 1133 (S.D.N.Y. 1983); Marcraft Clothes, Inc. v. M/V Kurobe Maru, 575 F.Supp. 239 (S.D.N.Y. 1983); Weyerhaeuser Co v. Western Seas Shipping Co., 568 F. Supp 1220 (N.D. Cal. 1983).

Born: Stockton, California

Ross C. Johns

Practice Areas: Insurance Litigation

Admitted: 2013 Florida

Law School: University of Miami School of Law, J.D. 2013

Born: Tampa, Florida

* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.

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