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Miami Herald Endorses YES Vote to Retain the Justices

The Miami Herald's published its YES recommendation for the Supreme Court justices.  Please spread the word.  The endorsement can be found here:

Order of the Court: Striking Down Bad Law, Missouri Supreme Court Does its Job and Declares Med Mal Caps Unconstitutional

 "In suits at common law, trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature." [Emphasis supplied.]  James Madison


"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  Thomas Jefferson


At the end of July, the Missouri Supreme Court did what a supreme court should.  It courageously approached a constitutional question and decided a case based on what is right and fair, not what is most accepted by the most powerful.  The unconstitutional law capped non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, insulating health care providers from personal and professional responsibility when their negligent acts cause harm to their patients.  The case before the court involved a brain injured baby, who suffered a catastrophic deprivation of oxygen to his brain that was largely ignored by the obstetrical team who provided care to him and his mother.  The child, the most vulnerable of all litigants, received a $5 million jury verdict.  But the jury's decision was replaced by the legislature's limit of $350,000.  The child's family appealed, asking for the jury's verdict to be reinstated.  The Missouri Supreme Court concluded that damage awards are the job of the jury, and the legislature's attempt to take that job away amounted to a deprivation of the child's constitutional right to a jury trial.  The Court reinstated the jury verdict.

7 Essential Steps To Successful Trial Advocacy

7 Essential Steps To Successful Trial Advocacy

Most trial lawyers want to be the best we can be. The goal takes a lifetime of dedication to the craft. Here are my thoughts on how to be your best:

  1. Preparation. The first essential step for every aspect of oral advocacy is preparation. No successful advocate can make his or her case without it. But preparation does not mean closing yourself off to all common sense in the world around you.

Crafting a Good Release: University of Miami v. Francois and the Perils of Language

Settling a case is usually a good thing.  A compromise, to be sure, but a good settlement resolves a dispute and, if your represent the plaintiff like we do at our firm, settlements put money in your client's pocket and, in turn, in yours.  But the work doesn't end once you agree to terms.  Crafting a good release is a challenge and requires the plaintiff attorney's close attention.  Be careful to limit the release to only the party with whom you are settling.  Too often, release language is overbroad and purports to release the settling party not only for past cond

U.S. Supreme Court Victory for Tobacco Plaintiffs

The United States Supreme Court issued a victory for Florida's Engle tobacco plaintiffs on Monday, March 26, 2012 when it declined certiorari review of three appeals brought by the RJReynolds Tobacco giant.  Reynolds, like the other major tobacco companies, claims that its due process rights are violated by the Engle class action findings.  Reynolds' gripe centers on the class action jury's findings that cigarettes are a defective product, that the tobacco companies were

Time to take a Stand: Democracy at Stake

The current battle to remove Justices Pariente, Quince, and Lewis is a perversion of democracy and a threat to our liberty.  It is a knee jerk, and childish, reaction to a judicial decision.  These are excellent jurists who should not face removal simply because a group of disgruntled citizens dislike President Obama or his health care policy.  If we fail to protect these justices from this attack, our judicial branch, and its ability to faithfully assure justice, will be fatally wounded.

Louisiana Letdown: Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Damage Caps

The Louisiana Supreme Court, in the case of Oliver v.

Florida Man Receives $1.35 Mil From the State of FL for Wrongful 30 Year Prison Term: Nice Try FL, But it's Just not Enough

Congratulations to William Dillon, the Florida man who was recently awarded $1.35 million by the Florida legislature in a claims bill designed to compensate him.  It turns out William Dillon spent almost 30 years, that's three decades, in a Florida prison for a crime he did not commit.  The State of Florida wasted the best years of Mr. Dillon's life.  And for that, Mr. Dillon will receive $1.35 million (actually less than that because he will have to pay his team of lawyers their hard earned, and much deserved fees).  I congratulate Mr.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy ("HIE"): Medical Prevention and Legal Remedies

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, or "HIE," is a diagnosis of brain injury relating to traumatic labor and delivery.  "Hypoxic" means oxygen deprivation.  "Ischemic" means lack of blood flow to the tissues of the body.  And "Encephalopathy" means disease or injury to the brain.   Taken together, the diagnosis means that the brain tissue suffered injury due to lack of blood flow and lack of oxygen.  This type of injury, often catastrophic, occurs when a baby receives inadequate blood flow, or inadequately oxygenated blood, or both, during labor and delivery.

Hot Coffee Update: Democracy's Big Florida Test as Supreme Court Hears Med Mal Caps Challenge on February 9, 2012

Something is wrong in America.  What's wrong is uncontrolled corporate greed.  Enough is enough.  They had their way in the Bush years. And they did their damage.  It is now time to reset democracy.  This is the first in a series of updates on the status of our legal rights around the country.  First stop: my home state of Florida.

Attorney Stuart N. Ratzan on David's Slingshot and the Judicial System

The judicial system, and the jury trial in particular, are the great equalizers in our democracy. How many of us have the power and money to compete with the tobacco industry, or British Petroleum, or Walmart, in our state capitols or in the United States Senate? In the halls of our capitol buildings, power and money reign. Imagine the reception the average citizen would get when entering to persuade a legislator on a need for public funds, or on a change in the law, as compared to the CEO of AIG, Goldman Sachs, or Johnson & Johnson! And what about the Executive Branch? What are the average citizen's chances of accessing the Governor's mansion for a sit down? And the White House? In the words of Tony Soprano, "Fahgettaboudtit!"

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