Merlin Law Group attorneys Javier Delgado and Tony Loe successfully won a jury trial arising from a Hurricane Michael trial in Panama City, Florida, last week. When I spoke with Javier Delgado shortly after the verdict, Javier said that the “jury awarded every penny Tony asked for in his closing argument.” The defendant insurance company was Tower Hill.

Insurance companies are the most professional and repeat litigators in the country. Many insurance companies contemplate how litigation may play into a claims philosophy and try to minimize the impact of adverse publicity caused by such litigation against their customers. On the other hand, policyholders rarely contemplate that they will have to hire attorneys to obtain insurance benefits at the time insurance is sold. Maybe departments of insurance should require insurance companies to report on litigation statistics to their potential customers before selling insurance?

Our client was very grateful and sent a message which she has allowed us to share in the hope that it will inspire others with valid claims to stand up to their insurance companies when they refuse to pay what is owed:

Dear Tony and Javier,

I hope your travels home were peaceful. Sister and I returned home last night. It feels so amazing to be back in my world. It was beyond cathartic to re-visit Mexico Beach in all it’s overwhelming struggles still and see that I no longer belong there. It was also cathartic to simply be “heard” by you, and then finally heard in a court of law.

I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the two of you. Not because it led to any outcome financially, but because we ‘did it’ together—we won. The entire time, I was holding a small rock that a dear friend gave to me. It was representative of ‘David & Goliath’ and something she created as a reminder for me.

Merlin Law did right by me–what happened prior to the two of you is nothing left in my mind—and it seems as with all else—that it was meant to be–God’s plan. I cannot imagine two other attorneys caring more, working harder, or presenting themselves in a way that made me proud to sit at their table.

Thank you.

Being repeat players to litigation, insurance companies hire very good attorneys when defending themselves. The opposing counsel representing Tower Hill came from the Galloway law firm which is a very well-established firm that defended many insurers in the Hurricane Katrina litigation battles I was so involved with 15 years ago. Tower Hill’s trial counsel, Todd LaDoucer, is almost out of central casting for what an insurance company would look for in a trial attorney. Galloway’s website noted:

“Undoubtedly, military service has chiseled Todd’s ability to remain calm under pressure. As a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a commissioned officer in three branches of service, the Army, Navy and Marines – effective leadership is a hallmark of his character. A rigorous academic study of conquering outer space has honed Todd’s intellect. His degree in Aerospace Engineering with an emphasis in the orbital mechanics of the planets allows him to quickly unravel and deftly handle the most complex and intricate cases. At NASA, Todd served in the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, while the causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident were investigated. As a Marine flyer, Todd excelled as an attack jet mission commander in the A-6E ‘Intruder.’ The Intruder’s main mission was to deliver bombs on target on time. With that goal, details matter. You become precise in planning and execution, which are traits that transfer directly to the practice of law. These demanding assignments and background prepared Todd well for his subsequent legal education. He graduated at the top of his University of Florida law school class in 1995 and has been in private practice ever since.

Todd’s training and experience coupled with a relentless drive have resulted in successful outcomes for hundreds of clients including, corporations, service companies, trucking companies, commercial property owners, and…insurance companies. Todd partners with his clients and understands that their participation and insights are invaluable to a positive result.”

So how did we win? Teamwork, facts, and a trusting client. Javier Delgado was the lead attorney in this case. He went out of his way to explain how so many lawyers and staff in the firm helped with trial preparation, last-minute briefing, how to counter LaDoucer’s last-minute arguments, and in trial techniques. Indeed, Javier noted how Etienne Font, a former property insurance claims manager turned Merlin Law Group attorney, helped formulate the method for presenting damages in the case.

Javier also gave huge credit to Tony Loe’s ability to summarize and speak plainly to the jury about the facts of the case. I wrote about Tony in Career Trial Prosecutor Tony Loe Joins Merlin Law Group. In that post, I noted some quotes I found in another news article about him:

  • “Law can be demanding and extremely time-consuming, and I have been very blessed that I have a wonderful family that has been extremely supportive on those nights and weekends when I am working on my cases, trying to make sure that I obtained justice on behalf of the Broward State Attorney’s Office.”
  • “John F. Kennedy said, ‘One person can make a difference and everyone should try.’ ”
  • “I am truly blessed: I have a wonderful family and a phenomenal job, a job for which I have a ton of passion.”

Tony told me that our client’s email made him proud to be a lawyer helping policyholders.

Fortunately, Merlin Law Group is far different from 30 years ago when I took boxes of evidence to trial all by myself and with little support in out of state cases. There was no such thing as an Internet, and I would be in a law library until it closed copying cases for use the next morning at trial. Today, there is truly a team behind everybody who can work all night long and share information and briefs written from afar. This helps us even the odds against insurance companies and their clever and capable insurance counsel.

Our justice system can certainly be improved. Many may even criticize America’s jury trial system. But I would not trade it. There are many very well-meaning and talented judges, along with lawyers and citizens, who, without any fanfare or glory, volunteer time to listen carefully and make decisions to make our justice system better on limited budgets.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am grateful that we live in a country where people really care about justice and take action to make our system better. I am grateful to serve people in need with my talents. I am grateful to work in a law firm so dedicated to helping policyholders achieve the justice they deserve and stand up for them against the Goliaths of the insurance industry. I am grateful for our most recent victory—it was a very hard-fought case that could have gone the other way.

Thought For The Day

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
—Oprah Winfrey