Michael Dolce is a partner at Cohen Milstein, a member of the Complex Tort Litigation practice, and the leader of the firm’s Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking, and Domestic Abuse team.
A trial lawyer and political activist, Mr. Dolce’s exclusively represents sex crime survivors, including child and adults. His team represents clients from initial disclosure to law enforcement, to police investigations, criminal prosecutions, injunction proceedings and civil lawsuits against individual criminals and any institution that gave them safe harbor to commit their crimes. Mr. Dolce brings to his work the insight and commitment of a survivor, having himself been the victim of sexual abuse as a young boy at the hands of a sadistic predator.
In addition to helping secure convictions against multiple sex criminals, he has achieved multiple multi-million-dollar trial verdicts and substantial settlements for his clients. Those include a $19.2 million jury verdict in 2009 (a top 100 verdict in The National Law Journal’s “Verdict Search” that year) and in 2018 the largest child abuse verdict in Florida that year, $4.6 million.
Among many awards, he is included in Lawdragon’s list of “500 Leading Lawyers in America” (2020 - 2022) and “500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers” (2019). He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and received Daily Business Review’s 2019 “Innovative Practice Areas” award. He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. He has also received awards for his work from the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, and the Florida Justice Association..
His expertise and accomplishments in sex crime victim rights is nationally recognized. CNN relied on him as an expert for an investigative report into mishandling of sex crime investigations. He has been quoted and has published editorials in the nation’s top news outlets and law journals, including: NBC Think, The Associated Press, Newsweek, USA Today, The Guardian, The Hill, The New York Times, New York Daily News, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Law360, The Daily Business Review, The Epoch Times, The Herald (Sharon), The Palm Beach Post, PENN Live, Politico, Salon.com, SunSentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), Tampa Bay Times, among others. He also appears as an expert in the award-winning documentary film, Pursuit of Truth: Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Seeking Justice.
In 2004, he broke his decades-long public silence about his status as a child sex abuse survivor in order to help other survivors. He testified before the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee, starting what became a six-year crusade to repeal all statutes of limitation for civil and criminal prosecution of child sexual battery. He founded the political committee, Protect Our Kids First, Inc., and assembled a grassroots organization of some 200 survivors to overcome aggressive, well-financed opponents to compel the Florida Legislature to pass a full repeal.
Currently, Mr. Dolce is litigating the following notable matters:
- Doe, et al. v. Washington Hebrew Congregation, et al. (D.D.C.): On April 15, 2019, Cohen Milstein, on behalf of the families of 11 children between the ages of three and four, filed a lawsuit against Washington Hebrew Congregation Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center and its Director for failing to protect their children from sexual abuse by a preschool teacher over a two-year period.
- Doe v. Scores, et al. (Cir. Crt., Hillsborough Cnty., Fla.): On January 29, 2020, Cohen Milstein filed a lawsuit on behalf of a developmentally disabled minor against Scores Holding Company, Inc. and its affiliates for illegally having her perform at one of their Florida strip clubs, subjecting her to be sexual abuse and human trafficking.
- Jane Doe v. Gerard Abate, M.D. (Cir. Crt., Flagler Cnty.): On June 16, 2021, Cohen Milstein filed a civil sexual assault lawsuit Against Dr. Abate for allegedly committing rape and sexual assault by deception or fraud, sexual battery, battery, aggravated battery, poisoning, and exposed the plaintiff to a sexually transmissible disease without notice and consent.
Mr. Dolce’s recent successes include:
- Doe v. Unnamed Institution: In November 2017, Mr. Dolce successfully settled a matter, prior to filing a lawsuit in court, on behalf of a client who survived a sexual assault in a medical setting. The $800,000 settlement and outcome for his client was life-altering and life-sustaining, as she had profoundly struggled with suicidal behaviors and needed expensive residential treatment due to her trauma.
- Jane Doe v. Seagate Hotel and Spa (Cir. Crt., Palm Beach Cnty., Fla.): Mr. Dolce successfully represented an adult against a resort hotel for negligence, asserting that she was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist, who had been discharged just two months earlier by his prior employer for sexually assaulting a guest.
- Doe v. Doe (Cir. Crt., Norfolk Cnty., Va.): In October 2017, Mr. Dolce successfully settled a survivor of child sexual abuse lawsuit in Virginia for $880,000 – more than 40 years after the abuse occurred –on behalf of a 49-year-old south Florida resident, whose repressed memories of traumatic sexual abuse began to surface two years earlier, causing him to relive the painful experiences.
- Jane Doe v. Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches (Cir. Crt., Polk Cnty., Fla): Mr. Dolce represented a teenaged sex abuse victim who was abused in a residential childcare facility by an adult resident of the facility. This civil suit against the facility follows a successful criminal prosecution of the abuser, asserting that the facility failed to maintain proper child safety procedures and policies.
- Rose, Fitzsimons and Davis v. The Devereux Foundation, Inc. (Cir. Crt., Leon Cnty., Fla.): Mr. Dolce represented adult survivors in three related lawsuits, asserting child physical and sexual abuse at a licensed therapeutic group home perpetrated by several staff members.
- Hollins v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Cir. Crt., Leon Cnty., Fla.): Mr. Dolce represented an adult survivor of child sexual abuse against his former church (Jehovah’s Witnesses), resulting in a confidential settlement.
- A.S.W. v. Happy House, Inc. (Cir. Crt, Duval Cnty., Fla.): Mr. Dolce represented a pre-school child against a day care center in a child-on-child sex abuse case, resulting in a confidential settlement.
- Jane Doe v. James Byrne and Linda Byrne (Cir. Crt., St. Lucie Cnty., Fla): Mr. Dolce represented a mentally disabled child in an action against a neighbor who sexually abused her over a two-year period and against the abuser’s wife, on a theory that she failed to protect the child after finding evidence of ongoing abuse. The jury awarded damages of $3.5 million, ordering both defendants to pay.
He previously served on the board of directors of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
Mr. Dolce graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Lynn University and received his J.D. from Stetson University, which awarded him at graduation the Walter Mann Award for leadership in the legal profession and the Victor O. Wehle Award for outstanding trial advocacy.