If you’re a business owner, you understand the hard work and dedication it takes to build and maintain a successful enterprise. Carlos knows this, which is why he is a staunch advocate for his clients’ business and real estate interests, especially when they need to be protected in court, arbitration, or any other tribunal.
With decades of litigation experience, Carlos represents business clients in partner/shareholder disputes, fraud and intentional interference claims, and various contract-based claims. He also represents clients in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act claims, purchase and sale disputes, real estate broker/agent defense, and commercial landlord/tenant claims.
Carlos has been recognized as a “Top Lawyer” in business litigation, eminent domain, and condemnation law by Naples Illustrated from 2018 to 2023. He has also been named to Florida Super Lawyers® magazine’s list from 2021 to 2023.
Carlos is a highly sought-after speaker on various aspects of eminent domain, including best practices for preparing an appraiser witness for condemnation cases. He has presented for The Florida Bar’s Eminent Domain Committee, The Florida Bar’s City, County & Local Government Section, the Florida Association of County Engineers & Road Superintendents, Half Moon Education, Inc., and the West Coast Florida Chapter of the Appraisal Institute.
Carlos also frequently writes on these issues and has been published by the American Bar Association and The Florida Bar Journal. One of his articles has been cited by The Supreme Court of Florida and the Cardozo Law Review. Carlos is also an author for the firm’s Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate blog and Southwest Florida Business and IP Blog.
Carlos has been with Henderson Franklin since 1997 and currently serves as chair of the Business Litigation Department, a member of the Pro Bono Committee, and a member of the Marketing Committee. He chaired the Firm’s Summer Associate Program for many years, and mentors up-and-coming trial lawyers in the Department. He is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. When he’s not practicing law, Carlos enjoys physical training, cheering for the ‘Noles on the gridiron, and watching black and white detective movies from the 1940s and ‘50s.
Professional and Civic Affiliations
Carlos is an active volunteer in the community and serves on SalusCare, Inc.’s Finance Committee. He also served as Board Chair of The IMAG History & Science Center for three years and as a board member for several years prior. Carlos is the co-founder of P.E.A.K., a business roundtable composed of members of various professions, including accounting, banking, construction, education, financial advising, health, information technology, insurance, legal, mortgage brokering, non-profit, public relations, and real estate.
Carlos served on the Board of Governors of the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar for six years, and at the local level, served on Grievance Committee “D,” including as vice-chair. He has also served the Lee County Bar Association in many capacities, including as Chair of the General Civil and Business Litigation Practice Section.
- Defended a real estate brokerage and real estate agent sued in state court on claims of fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment of alleged defects in residential real property. The plaintiffs sought $700,000 (seven hundred thousand dollars) in damages, plus punitive damages, along with attorneys’ fees and costs. Carlos obtained summary judgment against plaintiffs on their two claims against the brokerage and the agent. Judge’s ruling cited key undisputed facts established through depositions of plaintiffs and cited case law identified in motion for summary judgment.
- Tried a breach of contract case as co-counsel with my law partner, Douglas Szabo, in which the judge awarded damages against opposing party of $6,267,901 immediately upon conclusion of two-day bench trial. Defendant had breached a long-term contract, forcing the client to seek replacement long-term contract with a third party at a significant price increase. Delivered the opening argument and cross-examined defendant’s site manager. The judge’s findings included certain specific key words and concepts used in cross-examination of defendant’s site manager.
- Represented condemning authority in acquiring approximately 4.5 acres of fee simple and easement interests in state court. Tried case as lead counsel in six-day jury trial in which owner’s two appraisers had prepared reports claiming damages of $5,073,600 and $6,331,700, respectively. After five days of trial, culminating in cross-examination of owner’s second/final appraiser witness, owner’s counsel requested a settlement conference. Despite condemning authority also having potential exposure to owner’s attorneys’ fees of at least $1,061,000 and costs of $210,000 (for a total potential exposure of over $6.5 million in damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs), case settled for $2.4 million, which included all of owner’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Especially noteworthy, as part of settlement, owner conveyed the fee simple interest for the remaining approximately 15.7 acres to the condemning authority.
- Represented real estate brokerage and agent in defending lawsuit alleging a variety of claims, including negligence. Obtained favorable testimony from a non-party deponent, causing the opposing parties to request a settlement conference. Opposing parties ultimately accepted less than 3.5% of their claimed damages to dismiss and settle all claims with prejudice.
- Represented condemning authorities in acquiring parcels for electric transmission facilities, electric substation, and road construction.
- Represented business owner in defending against proposed road widening. Condemning authority changed plans to minimize impact to client property.
- Represented property owner in negotiating a settlement of the taking of property for a governmental facility. Negotiated sale price to condemning authority that was $600,000 (or 50%) more than condemning authority’s highest appraisal.
- Represented owner of agricultural property in defending against proposed taking for drainage facilities. Condemning authority decided not to seek client property and did not file condemnation action.
- Represented owner of income property in defending against proposed taking to widen road. Condemning authority decided to alter plans to avoid taking client property.
- Represented (as co-counsel) local government in successfully defending against a claim under the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act and a claim for a regulatory taking. Plaintiff sought $10,900,000.00. Local government obtained summary judgment, which was upheld on appeal.
- Represented (as co-counsel) owners of trade secrets against former colleagues who claimed no trade secrets existed. Obtained favorable settlement after favorable rulings on client’s motion to amend to seek punitive damages.
- Represented business and its owner sued by a plaintiff who claimed an ownership interest in the entity. Raised various formation defenses and ultimately obtained favorable settlement.
- Represented business owners in dispute with co-owner over multi-million dollar commercial property; obtain settlement retaining ownership of property for clients and ousting co-owner.
- Obtained dismissal with prejudice of ethics complaint against real estate broker; upheld on appeal.
- Represented buyer of a business. Before any payment was due, negotiated favorable settlement resulting in satisfaction of promissory note given by the buyer to seller in purchasing the business.
News & Insights
- Naples Illustrated Magazine Recognizes 44 Henderson Franklin Attorneys as “Top Lawyers”
- Henderson Franklin Celebrates 26 Attorneys Recognized as 2023 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars
- Naples Illustrated Magazine Recognizes 36 Henderson Franklin Attorneys as “Top Lawyers”
- 21 Henderson Franklin Attorneys Recognized as 2022 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars
- Naples Illustrated Magazine Recognizes 39 Henderson Franklin Attorneys as “Top Lawyers”
- 20 Henderson Franklin Attorneys Recognized as 2021 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars
- Carlos Kelly Named Chair of Henderson Franklin’s Business Litigation Department
- Kelly Presented “Condemnation Blight Damages in Florida” to The Florida Bar’s City, County, Local Government Law Section
- Naples Illustrated Magazine Recognizes 28 Henderson Franklin Attorneys as “Top Lawyers”
- Kelly Continues Service as Chairman of the IMAG Board of Directors
- Fort Myers Litigation Attorney Carlos Kelly Continues Service on The Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee