Rusty Graf is a Board Certified attorney in Construction Law by the Florida Bar. His practice includes all aspects of commercial litigation with a primary emphasis in defending and prosecuting complex construction and design claims, involving both public and private projects throughout the United States. His cases in both state and federal court address all facets of construction law due to his representation of contractors, trade contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, material suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and sureties. Oftentimes Rusty represents these clients through insurance defense.
Rusty has a wide range of experience with construction disputes which includes lien foreclosures, payment and performance bonds, condominium construction, DBPR complaints, design and construction defects, professional errors and omissions, contract disputes, personal injury matters, changed conditions, extra work, and complex scheduling issues, which may encompass delays, disruptions, accelerations, inefficiency, and lost labor productivity to name a few. Additionally, Rusty handles subrogation claims, insurance coverage disputes, and collection matters. Rusty is an aggressive trial attorney and a master negotiator. When he is not working hard to litigate or settle disputes, Rusty negotiates, drafts, and reviews construction contracts for his clients and provides day-to-day general counsel for them when real time issues or concerns arise on a project.
Rusty has been recognized for his professional achievements in construction litigation. He was selected to the Rising Star list and has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers list annually since 2019. He carries an “AV” rating by nationally recognized Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating that demonstrates the utmost professional and ethical standards. He also lectures client companies and industry groups on a variety of topics and current issues in the construction industry.
Rusty received his B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He obtained his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law, where he was a member of the Client Skills Team and competed in negotiation competitions at both state and national levels. Prior to attending law school, he gained practical experience in the construction industry working as a supervisor/foreman for a construction company in the New Orleans area from an early age all the way through college. This background experience in construction sets Rusty apart from other lawyers because he understands first-hand the intricacies and pitfalls of construction projects. All of his experience serves him well as a member of the City of Maitland’s Board of Adjustments and Appeals, which interprets and enforces Building Code standards and hears appeals of decisions and interpretations of the Building Official.
Rusty and his wife Jennifer have three daughters, Kennedy, Presley and Monroe. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and taking on construction projects at home. He is also active with his daughters’ competitive swim, dance, and soccer teams.
Professional or Trade Affiliations
- Member, Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar
- Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Orlando Chapter
- Member, City of Maitland Board of Adjustments and Appeals
- Former Vice-Chairman, City of Orlando Building & Fire Codes Board of Appeal
- Current Issues in Construction and Applicability of Ch. 558, Florida Statutes – City of Orlando Building & Fire Codes Board of Appeal
- Overview of Florida’s Lien Law – Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
- Multistate Overview of Proposals for Settlement – XL Insurance
- Routinely represents general contractors and subcontractors of all trades in complex multi-million dollar lawsuits.
- Member of the prevailing trial team that defended a structural engineering firm and principal engineer in a six-week jury trial on 24 million dollar professional liability claim involving the design and construction of an underground parking garage and library addition.
- Prevailed in a three-day bench trial on behalf of national roofing contractor who prevailed against general contractor for unpaid work, which triggered recovery of attorneys’ fees under Florida’s Proposal for Settlement statute.
- Negotiated favorable settlement for demolition contractor and surety on a claim in excess of $3M relating to construction of the Port of Tampa’s REK pier.
- Prevailed on summary judgment and recovered attorneys’ fees for client who was defending against claims involving the sale of a commercial building and alleged failure to disclose defects.
- Successfully represented at trial engineering firm against general contractor for unpaid services and won appeal on attorney’s fee award, ultimately recovering full amount of judgment.
- Negotiated favorable settlement for high-rise hotel owner client involving claim for defective products incorporated into building.
- Negotiated hundreds of construction related disputes both in and outside of mediation. He has a formidable track record of obtaining favorable results for his clients and is often successful in resolving most cases either without litigation or short of trial.