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President’s Message
December, 2009
 
When I first took office as President of this great organization last December, my primary concern was finding interesting speakers to attend our monthly dinner meetings.  I quickly realized that would be the easiest of my duties.  Late last year I attended an FJA telephone conference call which included the leaders of local “trial lawyer” organizations across the State.  Initially, many of the issues discussed seemed to be remote and of little interest to me, sitting as I was in my office in Broward.
 
However, as I listened, my concern grew.  It was apparent that the other county Justice Associations around the State were much more involved in the fight to protect our clients and practices than we were.…

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Oct. 28, 2009
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“Thank you Officer.”
 
Although politeness like this may not get you “out” of a traffic citation, any police officer will agree that a good attitude serves you much better than the alternative. Forget about what type of day you have had, be thankful if you only get issued a citation, and can return to fight another day.
 
Many people believe the only way to deal with a traffic citation is to pay the fine, take the points, and go to driving school. Depending on a number of factors, including the type of violation, and your driving record, you may have other options.
 
In Broward County, a violator actually gets four opportunities to decide how to deal with a citation: 1) plead guilty by mail, pay the fine, and perhaps elect driving school; 2) attend the initial appearance, pay the fine, elect driving school, or plead “not guilty”, and request a full hearing; 3) attend the pre-trial conference, where a magistrate will give you the opportunity to change your plea to “no contest”, and accept a “plea bargain”; and 4) proceed to a final hearing.…

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Earlier this year, a doctor was walking across the street when he was run over and killed by an uninsured drunk driver. Although his car was covered by a good policy with high uninsured motorist benefits, his widow and children received none of those benefits.
 
We often see business people who, while attempting to protect themselves from the liability which motor vehicles present, exclude themselves and their families from very valuable insurance protection for which they are paying.
 
Where we see this situation the most, is in closely held corporations and in the practices of professionals such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc. These astute individuals realize that motor vehicles present a potential liability whenever the vehicle may be involved in an accident, regardless of whether the principal or an employee is driving.…

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Sep. 30, 2009
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I hope everyone enjoyed their summer. Personally, I love autumn. Football starts again, kids go back to school, temperatures begin a slow decline to something approaching pleasant and the end of hurricane season approaches.
 
The past few years have brought us a much-needed reprieve from the onslaught of hurricanes that, at times, made us feel like Mother Nature was loading tropical systems into a machine gun aimed at Florida. Nevertheless, many of us brace ourselves in June and follow the weather reports closely until the end of the season nears in October and November.
 
I’ve begun to realize, however, that we Floridians face not one, but two hurricane seasons every year.…

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Of all the organizations I’m involved in, the BCJA is my favorite.  When I was a law student, I clerked for Morris Finkel, who was then President of this group.  Morris, now one of my partners, brought me as his guest to a monthly dinner meeting.  That evening had a profound effect on me, and helped form my decision to become a Plaintiff Trial Lawyer.  I remember that meeting well: it was held at the Riverside Hotel, and while sitting in on Case Evaluation I was stunned at the free exchange of knowledge, opinions and assistance.  The dinner was likewise memorable, not so much for the food (some things never change) but because the speaker and topic were timely and interesting, and I got to sit at Morris’ table with  Judges and lawyers whose names, while unfamiliar to me at the time, have become very familiar indeed.  …

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Sep. 23, 2009
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For a session that wasn’t supposed to be focused on “Tort Reform”, there were an alarming number of such Bills before the legislature this year.  Our battles in Tallahassee are far from over. We can all consider this past session a victory, thanks to the hard work of our brethren at the Florida Justice Association.  Click on this link to find a brief legislative update from the FJA’s website (www.floridajusticeassociation.org), where additional information is available.
 
Looking back over the “Bad Bills” should give us all pause—Insurance Company Bad Faith Immunity?  Really?  That was on the table?  I’m being flippant, of course, but I can’t believe this didn’t cause more concern within our profession.…

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It seems that every time I think we have a bit of time to relax our vigilance and focus exclusively on our practices, the enemies of Justice launch another attack.  John Thrasher is running for the open seat in State Senate District 8 (Jacksonville). What does a Jacksonville State Senate race mean to us down here in Broward County?
 
For those of you who are unfamiliar with State politics, James Thrasher may be an unknown to you.  As Speaker of the House, Thrasher joined forces with Jeb Bush on a mission to destroy Florida’s civil justice system.  In my opinion, no one has done more harm to your client’s rights and Florida’s consumers than John Thrasher. …

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