Maria Elena Abate

Shareholder

Since joining Colodny Fass in 1992, Maria Elena Abate has built her reputation and expertise in the areas of complex commercial litigation, insurance fraud, insurance coverage, bad faith and class action defense, as well as employment law and civil rights.

Ms. Abate is a member of the elite Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, an invitation-only national organization committed to furthering high standards of litigation and claims management in pursuit of client defense. With over 25 years of experience, she has worked closely with multiple defense firms and joint defense groups in complex commercial matters.

Consistently active with the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee, she has become a trusted resource for those seeking to rid the state of its dubious reputation as the insurance fraud capital of the nation. In addition to regularly lecturing and instructing, she has been called upon to serve on industry workshop panels, and in an advisory and training capacity to insurance companies, agents and their employees to help eradicate fraud through education and communication.

As part of her diverse practice, Ms. Abate handles a wide variety of insurance related matters, which include agent and broker E & O claims such as breach of duty, misrepresentation, fraud or inadequate coverage.  From licensing and liability matters, coverage disputes, errors and omissions, insurance solvency concerns, investigations and disciplinary proceedings, to new challenges like cyber-risk and social media she has successfully assisted agents and brokers navigate their duties and obligations under the law.

She provides counsel to agents on avoiding the liability pitfalls of errors and omissions in the many and varied circumstances of servicing policyholders.  Typical claims include breach of duty, inadequate coverage, misrepresentation or fraud, inadequate business practices, and inadequate communication and documentation.

Serving together with Firm Managing Partner Mike Colodny as outside general counsel, Ms. Abate was instrumental in the ability of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to continue its ability to pay policyholders’ claims in the wake of several major hurricanes. For Citizens, Ms. Abate also handled complex litigation and class actions, as well as oversaw its defense counsel teams.

Ms. Abate, who formerly served as General Counsel to the South Florida Workforce Board for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, represents major employers and state agencies in the defense of employment-related class action and complex litigation, as well as other high-risk employment-related matters in cases involving the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII, Section 1981 and 1983 claims, whistle blowers claims,  non-disclosures, non-competes, tortious interference claims and constitutional violations.

Ms. Abate has been named as a “Top Lawyer” and a “Distinguished Attorney” by the South Florida Legal Guide, among other prestigious recognitions, including “Insurance Defense Attorney of the Year” finalist by the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee.

Prior to joining the Firm, Ms. Abate served as a staff attorney for The Honorable Arthur M. Birken, the Honorable Miette K. Burnstein, the Honorable Robert L. Andrews, the Honorable Patricia W. Cocalis, the Honorable Mel Grossman the late Honorable Joseph E. Price, and the late Honorable Stephen R. Booher of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Florida.

A member of The Florida Bar, Ms. Abate is admitted to practice in all Florida state and appellate courts, the United States District Court for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

She is a member of the Florida Bar Association, the Broward County Bar Association,

She formerly served as Continuing Legal Education Chair of the Bar’s Public Interest Law Section (PILS) and is Past Chair of PILS’ Legal Needs of Children Committee. She also is a founding board member of the Women’s Breast & Heart Initiative, a charitable organization dedicated to providing breast and heart screenings to women.

Ms. Abate received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami, cum laude, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude.

She is fluent in Spanish.

Civic and Community Involvement

  • Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section Chairman, 2008-2009
  • Florida Bar’s Public Interest Law Section Legal Needs of Children Committee Co-Chair
  • The Women’s Breast and Heart Health Initiative; Founding Board Member

Special Recognition

  • 2019 South Florida Legal Guide “Top Lawyer”
  • South Florida Legal Guide 2018 “Distinguished Attorneys”
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee 2018 “Insurance Defense Attorney of the Year” Finalist
  • AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities
  • 2005, 2014 South Florida Legal Guide “Top Lawyer”
  • 2006, 2008-2016 Florida Super Lawyers

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Colodny Fass Shareholder, Maria Elena Abate, presented her class on Property & Catastrophe Fraud and Litigation at the CLM Claims College, September 2018
  • Maria Elena Abate presented at the CLM 2018 Southeast Conference on November 8th and 9th “A Tale of Tow Rooftops: A Panel Review of Two Affirmative Action Fraud Lawsuits” in Atlanta Georgia.
  • Maria Elena Abate, Colodny Fass Shareholder, presented How To Know a Real ‘House Guest from a Monkey’s Uncle:  Assessing Homeowners’ Claims for Fraud Involving Airbnb or Home Sharing Agreements at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company SIU 6th Annual Fraud Conference, November 16, 2018
  • Colodny Fass Lawyer Maria Elena Abate Provides Legislative Review at Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies Annual Conference, August, 2017
  • Colodny Fass Lawyers Counsel Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies On Errors and Omissions Liability Pitfalls, August 2017
  • Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Northeast General Counsel Seminar; September 19-20, 2016. Assignment of Benefits and Litigation Panel.
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance; Level 1 Class on Property Insurance Fraud and a Level 2 Class on Personal Injury Protection Insurance Fraud at the CLM 2016 Claims College School of Insurance Fraud in Baltimore, Maryland; September 7-10
  • Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies Annual Conference, Hollywood, Florida; July 27, 2016. Legislative Summary, Assignment of Benefits and Personal Injury Protection Update.
  • 2014 CLM Claims College,” September 9, 2014
  • Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA) Annual Conference; July 30, 2014; “Up the Creek with Both Paddles! Understanding Agent’s Obligations and E & O Exposure in Today’s Economy” with Sharlee Hobbs Edwards
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC) Conference; June 11, 2014; Orlando, FL; “Nip it in the Bud–Frontline Defense to PIP and Workers’ Compensation Fraud.”
  • 2014 CLM Annual Conference; April 10, 2014; “The Vanishing Privileges–A Discussion of Attorney-Client and Work Product Privileges in Bad Faith Cases and How to Best Protect Confidential Communications”
  • Ascendant Holdings, LLC, April 1, 2014; “Effective Use of Social Media, Investigations in Claims Handling & Litigation, It’s No Secret“
  • Florida Peninsula; March 21, 2014; Boca Raton, FL; “The Cost of Fraud and its Effects on the Industry“
  • State of the Florida Insurance Market Summit; January 29, 2014; “Effective Use of Social Media, Investigations in Claims Handling & Litigation, It’s No Secret“
  • PCI Surplus Lines Committee; November 14, 2013; Chicago, IL; “Developments Expanding the Potential Scope of Broker Liability“
  • Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies Presentation; September 4, 2013; Updates on HB 119 and Litigation (Myers v. McCarty) – Maria Elena Abate
  • Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies Presentation; July 18, 2013; “PIP and Workers’ Compensation Fraud: All Agents Are Impacted!” — Maria Elena Abate and others.
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Conference; June 6, 2013; “Fighting Fraud in Sinkhole Claims”
  • MAGNA Legal Services – Streamlining Relationships with Outside Counsel; Naples, June 5, 2013; “The Privilege is all mine! The classic formulations of the attorney client privilege and work product doctrine”
  • 2013 State of the Florida Insurance Market Summit; January 30, 2013; “Don’t Get Caught With Your Whistle Blown” – Maria Elena Abate, Amy Koltnow
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee Conference; June 14, 2012; “Fighting Fraud in Sinkhole Claims”
  • 2012 State of the Florida Insurance Market Summit; March 14, 2012; “Crawling Out of the Litigation ‘Hole’ – An In-Depth Conversation on Sinkholes and Fighting Fraudulent Claims” – Maria Elena Abate, with Amy L. Koltnow
  • 2012 State of the Florida Insurance Market Summit; March 14, 2012; “News from the World of Insurance Litigation” – Maria Elena Abate and Amy L. Koltnow

Recently Published Articles and Media Mentions

  • Colodny Fass’ Insurance Defense Lawyer Maria Elena Abate Recognized Among South Florida Legal Guide’s “Distinguished Attorneys” South Florida Legal Guide, January 22, 2018.
  • Colodny Fass Lawyer Maria Elena Abate Provides Legislative Review at Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies Annual Conference, August, 2017
  • Colodny Fass Lawyers Counsel Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies On Errors and Omissions Liability Pitfalls, August 2017
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC) Nominates Colodny Fass Shareholder Maria Elena Abate as “Insurance Defense Attorney of the Year”, June 16, 2017
  • “Insurance Regulation Lawyers Colodny Fass Chosen by A.M. Best to Revise Prestigious Florida Insurance Law Digest for Fifth Consecutive Year,” March 29, 2017
  • “Pounding the Gavel on the Frye v. Daubert Debate;” Bracken Engineering E-News.  March 17, 2017.
  • “Insurance Fraud On Syllabus for Colodny Fass’ Maria Elena Abate’s Claims College Students,” August 31, 2016
  • “Colodny Fass Lawyers Maria Elena Abate and Raquel Moya Represent National, Florida Insurance Trade Associations With Successful Amicus Brief,” August 31, 2016.
  • “Battling Back Against the Use of AOBs in Water-Related Claims” by Maria Elena Abate.  Claims Management Magazine.  July 22, 2016.
  • “What Employers Need to Know About the New ‘Overtime Rule,’” by Maria Elena Abate, July 18, 2016.
  • “Colodny Fass Litigators Successfully Thwart Statewide Florida Class Action Threatening Insurer’s Option to Repair,” July 6, 2015.
  • “First DCA Rejects Insurer’s Attempt to Fight Fraudulent Post-Loss Assignments of Benefit Claims Through Change in Policy Provision,” June 23, 2015.
  • “Colodny Fass Litigators Honored by Daily Business Review as 2014 ‘Insurance Litigation Department of the Year’ for South Florida,” April 9, 2014.
  • “Colodny Fass Litigators Obtain Landmark Success on the Sinkhole Warfront,” November 20, 2013
  • “Examining the Daubert Standard on Scientific Evidence and Expert Opinion Testimony,” by Maria Elena Abate.  American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice News; September 19, 2013.
  • “Colodny Fass Shareholders Recognized as 2013 Florida Super Lawyers,” June 7, 2013.
  • “First DCA to weigh limits to PIP reimbursement,” Maria E. Abate and Matthew C. Scarfone. Daily Business Review; May 22, 2013.
  • “That Sinking Feeling.” Maria Elena Abate quoted in Claims Journal, April 15, 2013.
  • “Administrative Law Remedies–Going Outside the Comfort Zone” by Maria Elena Abate.  South Florida Legal Guide 2013 Professional Services Forum.
  • “Colodny Fass Lawyer Maria Elena Abate Presents ‘Fighting Fraud in Sinkhole Claims’ at Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee Conference,” June 22, 2012.
  • “Courts leave insurers uncertain of PIP repayments” by Maria E. Abate and Matthew C. Scarfone.  Daily Business Review; April 6, 2012.
  • “3rd, 4th DCAs hold insurer may limit PIP reimbursements” by Maria E. Abate and Matthew C. Scarfone.  Daily Business Review; December 16, 2011.
  • “Colodny Fass Lawyers Maria Elena Abate and Amy Koltnow Join Council on Litigation Management,” October 19, 2011.
  • “Colodny Fass Shareholders Named to Florida Super Lawyers 2011 List,” July 6, 2011.
  • “Fourth District Court of Appeal Clarifies Florida Law on Appraisals Demanded by Insureds,” by Maria Elena Abate. May 24, 2010.
  • “Fourth District Court of Appeal in Hurricane Wilma Sunshine State Insurance Case–Coverage Issues Must be Determined Before Court-Ordered Appraisal,” by Maria Elena Abate. February 8, 2010.
  • “Florida Supreme Court: Motion to Compel Appraisals Now Immediately Appealable Under Amended Appellate Procedure Rules” In-depth analysis of the revised Rules of Appellate Procedure adopted by the Florida Supreme Court on January 30, 2009.
  • “Putting a Stop to the Parade of Horribles,” co-authored by Maria Abate and Amy Koltnow.  Federation of Regulatory Counsel (“FORC”) Quarterly Journal of Insurance Law and Regulation.  Vol. 19 Edition 1, Spring 2008.
  • “A Judicious End to the Parade of Horribles” In-depth analysis of the September 25, 2007 Florida Supreme Court reversal of Florida’s Valued Policy Law, by Maria Elena Abate.  September 27, 2007.
  • “Breast cancer survivor raises awareness“ front page feature article on the Florida Breast Health Initiative, of which Maria Elena Abate is a founding board member.  The Miami Herald, October 23, 2007.
  • A.M. Best 12th installment of the Insurance Law Podcast–Maria Abate and Amy Koltnow, 2007.
  • “Public Interest Law Section Advocates for a Just Society”  The Florida Bar News, Volume 35, Number 3, February 1, 2008.