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Florida Justice Association

Personnel note: Dale Swope named president of Florida Justice Association

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Tampa attorney Dale Swope has been named the 58th president of the Florida Justice Association, the group announced in a press release Monday. Swope took the presidency at the Association’s 2017 Annual Conference in St. Pete Beach last week. The group is the only statewide professional association dedicated to trial attorneys and their clients in the state. “I’m honored my colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead the Florida Justice Association at this consequential time for civil justice in our state and country,” Swope…

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Amendment would move Senate workers’ comp fix closer to House language

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The sponsor of the Senate workers’ compensation bill has edged toward the House position regarding the maximum attorney fees payable in claims litigation. Sen. Rob Bradley filed an amendment to his bill Wednesday trimming the maximum hourly fee to $200 — down from $250 in his original bill, but more than the $150 contemplated in the House. The amendment also would require the Department of Financial Services to engage an independent consultant to study the system for reimbursing medical providers…

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Florida Justice Association denounces House workers’ comp package

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Trial attorneys issued a denunciation Monday of the workers’ compensation reform package now headed for a House floor vote. HB 7085 is “a handout to the insurance industry and its big-business allies – one that does little to benefit injured workers or most employers,” the Florida Justice Association said in a written statement. “The plan wipes out countless injured workers’ ability to afford legal help when insurance companies wrongfully deny benefits, without providing other new benefits to offset this added burden,”…

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Smoker’s widow fights for multimillion-dollar jury award

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A lawyer for the widow of a Florida man “addict(ed) to cigarettes” asked the state Supreme Court Monday to reinstate her $30 million jury award for punitive damages. Tallahassee attorney John S. Mills, who represents Joan Schoeff, told the court the conduct of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.(RJR)—in selling a product they knew was killing 500,000 people a year—stopped just short of “intentional genocide.” Mills called RJR “the worst of the worst,” saying the cigarette maker was aware their customers “were going to die and continued (selling cigarettes)…

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Tobacco bond repealer is again postponed, this time in House

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A House bill (HB 6011) that would repeal the cap on the amount of money tobacco companies have to put up as appellate bonds was “temporarily postponed” Thursday. With its Senate companion (SB 100) also indefinitely put off, the proposal’s fate is uncertain for the 2017 Legislative Session. The House version was slated to be heard in the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee, records show. Tobacco companies are required to put up bonds before they appeal unfavorable damages awarded to former smokers, but the…

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Personnel note: Debra Henley out at FJA, Paul Jess in

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Debra Henley left her job as executive director of the Florida Justice Association last month and is temporarily being replaced by her deputy, Paul Jess, according to a Tuesday press release. Jess, who was called a “veteran association executive and attorney,” is now interim executive director, the release said. The news comes just a couple of months after rumblings about Henley’s leaving the state’s trial lawyers organization were reported in SUNBURN. At the time, FJA spokesman Ryan Banfill declined comment about any change in personnel. Now, Florida Justice Association…

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Senate bill would eliminate tobacco companies’ discounted appeals

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The Florida Legislature will consider legislation that would make it more expensive for tobacco companies to appeal verdicts in liability cases filed by smokers made sick or injured by their products. SB 100, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, contains just two lines: “Section 569.23, Florida Statutes, is repealed.” And “This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.” That section, enacted in 2009, caps the amount tobacco companies must post when appealing trial court verdicts against them. Supporters argued at the…

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