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My first trial: Do’s & don’ts, trial checklists & more


My First Trial at the 2017 Workhorse Seminar

Each year at Workhorse, My First Trial is the one session new attorneys cannot afford to miss.

It’s been an incredible experience. Absolutely invaluable. I gained so much insight, so many new perspectives and ideas that I am going to be able to immediately take back to the office. More importantly, it’s been incredibly inspiring to learn from the state’s and nation’s best plaintiff’s trial attorneys.
– Jason Thomassy, Ambler Law Group, Tampa

The wealth of information offered in this section is essential for those in their first few years of practice. From discovery to closing, young personal injury attorneys will be energized with fresh knowledge and perspective that will boost their confidence and trial skills.

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FJA Past President Troy Rafferty to be recognized for “Living the Dream” Award


FJA Past President, Troy Rafferty of the Levin Papantonio Law Firm, has been selected to receive the “Living the Dream” Award, honoring Pensacola natives and residents who exemplify Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream.

Troy served the FJA as President from 2015-2016, is a FJA EAGLE Legacy Member and recent recipient of the FJA’s most prestigious award, the Perry Nichols Award, which was awarded to him in September 2016.

Congratulations, Troy!

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[myPalmBeachPost] Cerabino: The never-ending plans to hobble Florida’s high court


Posted on myPalmBeachPost: 6:00 a.m. Saturday, January 07, 2017

By Frank Cerabino – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

By my count, this is Plan E.

I’m talking about the latest harebrained attempt launched from the Florida Legislature to invalidate the state’s highest court.

Florida lawmakers have long ago realized that some of their most precious plans could be realized if it weren’t for those pesky guys and gals in the black robes on the Florida Supreme Court.

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Stay safe: Drivers of vehicles both large and small are sharing the road this holiday season

An article posted by Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law reminds us of the increase of highway congestion during this time of year. Not only are there thousands of families driving hundreds of miles to Grandma’s house, trucks and trailers are sharing the roadway with them.


Recently, the number of accidents involving trucks has been on the rise, so driving safely is imperative during one of the busiest, and most dangerous, traveling times of the year.

The article reports on recent data which suggests an increase in difficulty for truckers to attain liability insurance to cover their trucking fleets. In addition, the Department of Transportation reports that while there has been a 20% decrease in fatal accidents with large trucks over the past 10 years, the number of accidents went up last year.

Not only has the number of accidents increased, Stark & Stark notes “the number of large verdicts where juries award tens of millions of dollars or more to families of truck accident victims” has also grown over the last few years.

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In Memoriam: W. McKinley Smiley, Jr.

UPDATE 12/21/16:

Click here to read Professor Smiley’s obituary written in the Tampa Bay Times.

A private family service was held in West Palm Beach this weekend and a Celebration of his Life will follow in the New Year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of W. McKinley “Mickey” Smiley, Jr. to Hospice of the Chesapeake Foundation, John and Cathy Belcher Campus, 90 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, MD 21122 or at

Today the Florida Justice Association family mourns the passing of Professor W. McKinley Smiley, Jr., our dear friend and a stalwart supporter of the civil justice system, legal education and the Florida Justice Association. He is affectionately known to all of us as “Mickey,” joining the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (AFTL) in 1963, shortly after admission to The Florida Bar. Mickey has been a regularly honored guest and speaker at the FJA’s Workhorse Seminar and Annual Conventions. These events will not be the same without his joyful and sparkling presence.

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A Victory in Workers’ Compensation

On November 23, the 73 page Order from Judge Karen Gievers was released regarding workers’ compensation rates.


It finds that NCCI violated the Sunshine Law, and it enjoins the workers’ compensation premium rate increase from going into effect on December 1st.

Congratulations to plaintiff Jim Fee and his legal team, as well as everyone else who participated and assisted in this case.

Special thanks also to FJA Workers’ Compensation Section Chair, Richard Chait, for his leadership in our FJA efforts to create a workers’ compensation system that works for everyone, especially injured workers. The lawsuit in which this order was entered is just one part of the overall effort in this cause.

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Florida Justice Association Congratulates Winning Champions for Civil Justice     

The Florida Justice Association congratulates all of the winning legislative candidates it supported during the 2016 election cycle.

These strong champions for civil justice elected will work to keep the courthouse doors open to every day Floridians who need to hold irresponsible corporations and insurance interests accountable when they cause harm. We are proud to provide our support to these outstanding leaders and look forward to working with them as members of the Florida Legislature.

The Florida Justice Association is deeply grateful for its members who stepped up and participated in key races across Florida. Your involvement contributed greatly to our success.

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FJA Titans: Paul Jess

Honoring the life and legacy of one of the titans of the personal injury profession. This article features a distinguished attorney who has been nominated by the FJA Young Lawyers Section Board. The YLS Board Members submit specific questions for each Titan to answer.

Enjoy this Q&A with FJA Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, Paul Jess.


Q. What is the most important thing you focus on in your cases?

A. My “cases” are legislative issues. The most important thing to focus on is political reality. If we are trying to pass legislation, is there a path with the leadership of the House and Senate to realistically think it can be done? What amendments might we have to accept to get a bill passed and would it be worth passing it with those amendments? If we are trying to defeat legislation, where are the choke points where it might be killed? Focus on lobbying the legislators who control those choke points. If it looks like bad legislation will pass, can we get it amended to eliminate or, at least, mitigate the damage? Finally, once the above analysis is complete, work the legislators who can make it happen – and keep working them until sine die.

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