Dono, Michael J.

Dono, Michael J.




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Michael J. Dono is a partner in the Miami office of Hamilton, Miller, & Birthisel LLP and Chair of the Firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group. He handles appeals in state and federal courts throughout the country, and he regularly partners with trial lawyers at Hamilton, Miller, & Birthisel to develop legal strategies applicable to all phases of litigation: pre-trial, trial, post-trial, and appeal. Michael has experience litigating a wide variety of substantive legal issues; his particular areas of interest are maritime passenger and crew claims.

Since founding the Firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group, Michael has briefed and argued many cases in the Florida appellate courts, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits, and U.S. Supreme Court. Michael is Board Certified in Appellate Practice. Only seven percent of eligible Florida Bar members, approximately 4,800 lawyers, are board certified. As of April 1, 2016, there are only 171 attorneys certified in Appellate Practice in Florida.

Besides handling purely appellate matters, Michael regularly briefs and argues complex issues at the trial-court level. For example, he has handled pre-trial motions practice and appellate preservation for over a dozen cases that have either gone to trial or been resolved before trial. As legal strategy counsel before and during trials, Michael handles all aspects of appellate preservation, including drafting and arguing motions in limine, dispositive motions, directed-verdict and post-trial motions, proposed jury instructions and verdict forms, and exhibit objections.


J.D., University of Miami School of Law
M.S., Finance, Florida International University
B.S., University of Miami


  • State:
    • Florida, 2002
  • Federal:
    • United States District Court for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida
    • United States Court of Appeals, Third, Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits
    • United States Supreme Court


  • Veverka v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., 649 F. App’x 162 (3d Cir. 2016) – affirming summary judgment finding against passenger who sued cruise line for negligence, breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relations, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.
  • Carmouche v. Tamborlee Mgmt., Inc., 789 F.3d 1201 (11th Cir. 2015) – holding that operator of shore excursions in Belize for cruise ship passengers did not engage in continuous and systematic business activity in Florida, and thus general personal jurisdiction over operator under Florida’s long-arm statute or due process clause was not warranted.
  • Escobar v. Celebration Cruise Operator, Inc., 805 F.3d 1279 (11th Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 1158 (2016) – addressing cost-based effective vindication defense to cruise line’s motion to compel foreign arbitration under the New York Convention and finding that seaman failed to establish that arbitration costs precluded his access to the forum.
  • Escobal v. Celebration Cruise Operator, Inc., 482 F. App’x 475 (11th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 1998 (2013) – determining that the seaman’s claim against the defendant cruise line were inextricably intertwined with his claims against the contract signatory Celebration Cruise Operator. Thus, the district court properly applied equitable estoppel in requiring the seaman to arbitrate his claim against the cruise line.
  • Estate of Myhra v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., 695 F.3d 1233 (11th Cir. 2012) –concluding that 46 U.S.C. § 30509, which prohibits common carriers transporting passengers and making use of a U.S. port from contractually limiting liability for personal injury claims, does not bar common carriers from using a forum-selection clause selecting a venue where domestic law, if applicable, would effect a limitation of liability.
  • Farris v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 487 F. App’x 542 (11th Cir. 2012) – affirming summary judgment finding in favor of cruise line and holding that nothing prevents a cruise line from contractually shortening the statute of limitations for bring suit if the ship enters no U.S. port.
  • E & H Cruises, Ltd. v. Baker, 88 So. 3d 291 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) – reversing trial court’s finding of jurisdiction over a Grand Cayman based cruise line shore excursion provider.

Recognition & Memberships

  • Recognition
    • Florida Super Lawyer, Rising Star, Law & Politics, 2010, 2012
    • Florida’s Legal Elite, Florida Trend, Appellate Practice
    • Top Attorneys in Florida, Appellate, American Registry
  • Memberships
    • Dade County Bar Association
    • Cuban American Bar Association
    • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
    • National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF)