Archive for the ‘Palm Beach Legal News’ Category

Christopher Hopkins Joins Akerman Senterfitt

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


I am pleased to report that, effective Wednesday, June 16, I will be moving my law practice to Akerman Senterfitt LLP.  Both of Butzel Long’s Florida offices are being merged/absorbed into Akerman, the largest law firm in Florida (with 500+ lawyers nationwide).

You can check out the firm at

My new contact information:

Christopher B. Hopkins

Akerman Senterfitt

222 Lakeview Avenue, Suite 400

West Palm Beach, Florida 33401

Direct: 561-671-3668

Cell: 561-635-3397

Fax: 561-659-6313


CLaw iPhone App in Palm Beach Daily News

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Palm Beach Daily News ran a nice story on the CLaw iPhone app which sets out Florida Rules of Professional Conduct as well as various federal and local bar rules which is free on iTunes.  

Article is here.

Check out the app via link at

Hospital’s Charges for Perc Disc Procedures Are Discoverable

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

If you perform a Google search for “percutaneous disc decompression” you will obtain a list of care providers detailing their PDD services.

Add the word “fraud” to your search and, at the top of the Google results, will be articles (here and here) questioning these procedures and allegedly inflated costs — with reference to Palm Beach County practitioners.

Enter the Fourth District’s opinion this week in Columbia Hospital (Palm Beaches) Limited Partnership d/b/a Columbia Hospital v. Catherin Hasson, Mark Hasson and Hourhan Elsawy (per curiam).

A personal injury plaintiff claimed she suffered injuries and received medical treatment (including a “perc disc” procedure) at the hospital, for which she was billed $19,000.

Defendants sent a subpoena to the hospital for the plaintiff’s records as well as the amount the hospital has charged patients with and without insurance vs. those with letters of protection and for differences in billing for litigation vs. non-litigation patients.  The Defendants’ purpose was to determine the reasonableness of the charges.  The hospital claimed a trade secret sought a protective order.

The court held that the defendants were entitled to discover whether non-litigation patients were charged a lower fee for the same procedure.  However, the trial court was instructed to take protective steps under F.S. 90.506 to ensure the trade secret(s) were protected with a confidentiality order or agreement.

Taken differently, the opinion sets out steps to obtain this kind of information:

1.  Determine if it is a trade secret via in camera inspection.

2.  Pursue hearing on compulsion to produce and/or produce in camera.

3.  Follow F.S. 90.506 regarding confidential production, if ordered.

“Blogging for Lawyers” at Palm Beach Bar Association

Monday, January 25th, 2010

We recently offered a lunch-time seminar for lawyers interested in learning about blogging at the Palm Beach Bar Association.  This was one in a series of lawyer-technology seminars, much like our prior Tweet Meet and Eat.

Thanks to Matt Kakuk of who jumped in with some technical help on issues relating to Google Analytics, Adsense, and Google Local.

If you couldn’t make it, the Palm Beach Bar Bulletin article is here and the powerpoint is here.

Palm Beach Bar Ranks Local Judges

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Today’s Daily Business Review ran the story, “Most judges fare well in bar poll” in a below-the-fold article giving the highlights of the biennial Palm Beach Bar Association survey.  But the article doesn’t provide the raw data for you to peruse.  For the full results on your favorite (or not so favorite) Palm Beach county and civil court judges, click here.

Bottom line: Overall, roughly 20% of the judges had excellent legal knowledge and 40% had an excellent demeanor.  Evans, Lewis, McCarthy and McSorley were rated as having poor demeanors.  More than half of the responding lawyers who appeared before Judge Corlew felt he lacked legal knowledge.

The DBR peppered their article with some interesting sentiments.  The poll is intentionally NOT undertaken during election years and is reportedly not intended to be used as an election tool (which some suggest it has been in the past, vis a vis Lisa Small’s challenge of Judge Lewis in the last election).

The lead sentence of the article notes that, “for the second time in a row, Palm Beach Circuit Court Judges Diana Lewis and Timothy McCarthy were rated discourteous by more than of the lawyers…” but it is only deeeep in the article that we learn that less than 600 lawyers out of more than 5,300 responded at all.  In fact, that lead sentence to the article is predicated on opinions of less than 200 lawyers who voted on Lewis and McCarthy.  It was further suggested in the article that voters may only be those with strong feelings.

Parents Liable for Child Loaning ATV to Another Minor to Ride

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In Florida, it is lawful for children under 16 years of age to operate an ATV… as long as they wear a helmet.  But that will not avoid civil liability for the parents if something goes wrong.  Indeed, it appears that the manufacturer’s warnings may be a weapon of liability against the parents/end users.

In Karen, Roger and Nicolas Fina and Nationwide Insurance Co. v. Est. of Sara Rose Hennarichs (Gerber, Damoorgian and Levine), Mr. and Mrs. Fina allowed their teenage son to ride an ATV despite the warnings on the machine and manual which said that minors under 16 should “NEVER” drive the ATV.  The son allowed a 13-year old friend to drive the ATV (contrary to parental instructions) and the friend had an accident and died.

The parents/owners were sued for negligently entrusting the ATV to their minor child as well as negligently training/supervising him.  A jury found the parents 70% liable, the son 10%, the friend/driver 5% and another parent 15% responsible.

A 1955 case holds that  a parent may incur liability where the parent entrusts the child with an instrumentality which, because of the lack of age, judgment or experience of the child, may become a source of danger to others.

The parents tried to claim that the “lack of age” did not apply because it was not unlawful for a minor under 16 years to drive an ATV.  The court disagreed, holding that it need not be illegal to be an act creating civil liability.

The parents likewise argued that they had no reason to believe their son would violate the family rule that no other children could ride the ATV.  The court denounced that claim, finding that the parents had “set an example of disregard” when they ignored or overlooked the manufacturer’s warnings and “it should have come to no surprise that [the son] would have disregarded their rules too.”  Indeed, the court even held the jury might rely on common sense to find the parents liable.

Note: this case does not appear to be limited to ATVs.  Heavy tools, BB guns, knives, and other equipment or toys could easily fall into this category.

Palm Beach County Bar Association Hosts “Tweet, Meet & Eat”

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

What does $30 buy you these days?  How about a 90-minute session learning to use Twitter and Facebook, a free lunch, and 1 hour of Florida Bar CLE credit!

Come join us on Friday, September 25, 2009 at the Palm Beach County Bar Association offices for the Tweet Meet & Eat seminar.  Bring your laptop and log in through the Bar’s WiFi and learn how to create a Twitter and Facebook account as well as tips on posting, setting privacy settings, and marketing your practice.

Sign up here.

Can’t make it?  Check out the two Powerpoint presentations on the right column of this page under “Materials” (look for “2009 Twitter for Lawyers” and “2009 Facebook for Lawyers”).  Also check out Why Lawyers Should Be @ Twitter and Internet Social Networking Sites for Lawyers.

West Palm Lawyer Suspended by Florida Supreme Court

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

The Palm Beach Post reported earlier this month that local plaintiff lawyer, A. Clark Cone, was temporarily suspended from the practice of law by the Florida Supreme Court while there is an investigation into allegations of taking over a half million dollars from various clients.  He also reportedly filed suit for a client in South Carolina, despite not being licensed in that state.

Cone’s father ran a law firm which “schooled some of the top attorneys in the state, including Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente.”

An initial search on the Florida Bar website appears to indicate Cone is “in good standing.”  However, clicking on the “YES” link reveals the temporary suspension.

The 165-page Petition for Emergency Suspension was predicated upon sworn complaints from a former paralegal, several clients, and a Bar auditor who reviewed the attorney trust accounts.

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