F&P Announces 2021 Partner and Counsel Promotions

Effective January 1st, Franklin and Prokopik promoted one attorney to principal and four to counsel. We applaud these team members who have demonstrated skill and professionalism within the legal community, and at F&P. Our attorneys have received recognition from peers and distinguished legal organizations. Please join F&P in congratulating the following attorneys and thanking them for their dedication to the firm!

New principals and counsel:

Renee Bowen, counsel, Baltimore

Elena Patarinski, counsel, Richmond

Chris Smith, counsel, Baltimore

Ellen Stewart, counsel, Baltimore

Tony Troese, principal, Baltimore

 

F&P Obtains Favorable Appellate Opinion Regarding ‘Open and Obvious’ Jury Instruction

On December 16, 2020, in a reported opinion by Judge J. Berger, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reversed the trial court’s judgment in Stephanie Gonzalez-Perdomo v. Six Flags America, L.P. (Case No. CAL-18-15218, Circuit Court for Prince George’s County) and remanded the matter for a new trial on liability consistent with the Court’s opinion.

The Court of Special Appeals held that the trial court’s refusal to instruct on the “open and obvious” defense when the issue was clearly raised by the facts adduced in evidence was an abuse of discretion and required a reversal of the judgment and a new trial on liability. The court specifically held that the pattern instructions were insufficient as a matter of law when the defense was generated as an issue of fact. Most significantly for the defense bar, the Court directly calls for the Standing Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions of the Maryland State Bar Association to review Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instructions – Civil (“MPJI-Cv”) 24:3 (2019): “The duty owed to an invitee is to use reasonable care to see that those portions of the property that the invitee may be expected to use are safe.” The Court points out that, as F&P argued, the pattern instruction is incomplete and there is a lack of clarity with regard to the case precedent set forth in premise liability cases like Casper, 316 Md. at 582, and Tennant, 115 Md. App. at 389, “a possessor of land has the duty to protect an invitee from injury caused by an unreasonable risk that the invitee would be unlikely to perceive in the exercise of ordinary care for his or her own safety, and about which the owner knows or could have discovered in the exercise of reasonable care.”

Click here to read the opinion of Judge Berger.

Oral argument – https://www.courts.state.md.us/sites/default/files/import/cosappeals/media/20201105_1620.mp4 

Super Lawyers Recognizes F&P Attorneys for 2021 Super Lawyers and Rising Star Honors

Super Lawyers has announced its 2021 designees for Maryland Super Lawyers and Maryland Rising Stars. Super Lawyers is a nationally recognized rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

The final list for Super Lawyers includes 5% of the lawyers in each state. Rising Stars must be under 40 years of age or in practice for 10 years or less. This list comprises 2.5% of lawyers in the state. Each candidate is selected by attorney-led research staff and is evaluated on a high degree of peer recognition or professional competence.

2021 Super Lawyers:

Ralph Arnsdorf, Construction Litigation
Tamara Goorevitz, Transportation/Maritime
John Handscomb, Workers’ Compensation
Maija Jackson, Workers’ Compensation
Angela Garcia Kozlowski, Workers’ Compensation
Laura McKenzie, Workers’ Compensation
Michael Prokopik, Workers’ Compensation

2021 Rising Stars:

Imoh Akpan, Civil Litigation: Defense
Michael Bennett, Workers’ Compensation
Renee Bowen, Transportation/Maritime
April Kerns, Workers’ Compensation
Heather Rice, PI General: Defense
Miranda Russell, Business/Corporate
Ellen Stewart, Civil Litigation: Defense
James Temple, III, Workers’ Compensation
Patrick Toohey, Civil Litigation: Defense
Antonio Troese, Workers’ Compensation
Patrick Wachter, PI General: Defense

F&P Spotlight on Dave Skomba, An F&P Founding Principal

What is your practice area and how did you choose it?
I practice in several discrete areas including insurance coverage, commercial law and tort defense, as well as product liability, construction defect matters and workers’ compensation.  The tie that binds all these areas is my focus on litigation: I am a trial attorney and an appellate advocate.  While I value the counselor role, especially in insurance coverage, contract and related business matters, I enjoy immensely the challenge of effectively communicating our clients’ interests to both juries and jurists whatever the subject area might be.

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
I love the sense of team, of working together toward a common goal and regardless of result knowing that we did all we could to realize the clients’ goals in the particular mater.

What is your favorite aspect about working at F&P?
The people.  We have a talented and diverse group of attorneys, paralegals and staff that each have their own story and so much to offer.  It has been a pleasure to watch so many of them come to F&P and learn, grow and thrive and then in turn themselves become mentors to new additions to the firm.

What’s your favorite restaurant?
My wife, Jackie, and I have celebrated “date night” every Tuesday at Shannon’s Saloon in Ellicott City for almost 30 years, since our children were very young.  It is important to take time to be with the most important person in one’s life and Shannon’s has been the place where Jackie and I have taken that time.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Being part of raising two wonderful children who are accomplished, intelligent, and responsible adults and who are themselves kind and considerate of others.

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
That I am a native of New Jersey where my family farmed.

What do you like to do outside the office?
I love to coach and be involved with basketball.  I have coached all levels of boys and girls basketball over the last few decades!  For the last 15 years I have had the honor of coaching girls high school basketball at Mount de Sales Academy where we have been successful both on the court and in the classroom.

Have you read any good books this year that you would recommend?
“Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves” by James Le Fanu, MD

What is your favorite food?
I am a beef-eater!  A good steak, medium rare, is a divine gift.

What is your all-time favorite city or town and why?
Georgetown in the District is my home away from home (but I also like the rest of DC)!

What was the best news you ever received?
Outside of my wife saying “yes,” the news that I had been accepted Early Action at Georgetown University into the School of Foreign Service at Christmas time in 1978.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eat?
I don’t eat weird things!

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world who would it be?
Asked this years ago I responded immediately and without hesitation, John Clease of Monty Python fame.  I still feel that way, especially if he were to be paying the bill.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
I am a lawyer.  Of course, I have bizarre talents.  I am just not going to share them.

Imoh Akpan to Co-Chair Fannie Angelos Virtual Gala

 

F&P Receives US News and World Report’s “Best Law Firms” Designation for 2021

The U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers released their “Best Law Firms” rankings for 2021 last week. F&P is pleased to announce that we have received the following designations:

  • Metropolitan Tier 1
    • Baltimore
      • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers
  • Metropolitan Tier 2
    • Baltimore
      • Employment Law – Management
      • Litigation – Construction
    • Washington, D.C.
      • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Client and peer ratings determine firm rankings. A firm must also have an attorney recognized in the 26th edition of Best Lawyers in America. The survey for 2021 saw record participation, with 8.1 million evaluations reviewed. Nationally, 15,587 law firms and 75 practice areas were reviewed. A total of  2,179 firms received a national ranking.

To find out more about these rankings and the “Best Law Firms” process, please visit the website at https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/.

F&P Ranks Nationally in Law360’s 2020 Glass Ceiling Report

F&P has smashed the glass ceiling in 2020, according to Law360’s annual report. The firm ranked 7th for female representation among equity partners (36.4%) at firms with 51-100 attorneys, and 14th when including total female attorney count (46.5% at the time of the survey, currently 49%) at firms with less than 100 attorneys.  Both of these lists are national.

Today women make up about 40% of law school students, but less than a quarter of these attorneys will reach an equity partner status or be on an executive committee according to the survey.  Though improvements have been made, the legal industry still struggles with overall female representation.  F&P prides itself on being a front runner in providing and hiring a diverse workforce and thanks Legal360 for recognizing the firms that are making efforts to close the gender gap.

Links to the complete articles can be found below (Law360 Subscription required).

https://www.law360.com/articles/1310926/these-firms-have-the-most-women-in-equity-partnerships 

https://www.law360.com/immigration/articles/1316430/glass-ceiling-report-how-does-your-firm-measure-up-?nl_pk=404ac358-d857-4615-9452-272b7acf601f&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=immigration 

F&P Spotlight on Principal Bert Randall

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
As corny as it sounds, my clients themselves.  A long time ago I sat through a boring legal consultant speech, and the one salient point he raised was when he asked us to break down our clients into three groups:  1. clients that we love working with; 2. clients that we don’t mind working with; and, 3. clients that we don’t like working with.  He said to stop working with those in the third category and focus on those in the first category, because as he said it “if you don’t like people you’re working for, you’re not giving them proper service.”  He was absolutely right, and ever since, I’ve done my best to work with people that I really enjoy.  It makes every day far more rewarding and fun.  If you can’t laugh a little at work, you should pick another career.  Fortunately, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Being awarded Soldier-of-the-Year and NCO-of-the-Year awards in consecutive years.  While serving in the Army Reserves and Army National Guard only taught me enough to appreciate those in the military that have done far more than I did, it taught me a lot about myself and that you really haven’t had a bad day until you go into a tear gas chamber.  It also taught me that wonder bread and sugar packets make a good dessert when you’re starving in basic training and infantry school.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
I’ve chased down and caught two opossums by hand – it’s one of my longest-standing Randall-family records.

Do you have any favorite travel destinations? 
Yes, currently it is a tie between my bedroom and my kitchen.  I might get adventurous this weekend and check out my basement.

 

Imoh Akpan to Moderate Panel for the National Foundation of Judicial Excellence

F&P principal, Imoh Akpan, will be moderating a panel on October 15 for the National Foundation of Judicial Excellence (NFJE) Virtual Symposium. This year’s theme is “Law in the New Age:  How Automation and Artificial Intelligence Will Change Judging in Substance and Procedure.” Imoh’s session is called “The Nuts and Bolts of Cybersecurity” and will discuss legal issues that arise when a data breach occurs and the kids of litigation that might arise as well as a review of the overall cybersecurity landscape.

The NFJE works with bar associations, law schools, and non-profit organizations to strengthen and preserve the justice system. To learn more about the National Foundation of Judicial Excellence and this year’s virtual symposium, please visit their website at https://nfje.net/nfjeimis/nfje/home/nfje.

F&P Principal Bert Randall Presents Webinar for IAIABC

Bert Randall participated in a webinar for the IAIABC Convention on September 24.  Bert was a member of the College of Workers’ Compensation Attorneys’  panel discussing “IAIABC and NAWCJ Judicial Program: Competing Perspectives on COVID19 Presumptions.” The convention’s programs are offered during the month of September.

The IAIABC (International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions) was founded 106 years ago to find ways to “reduce harm and aid recovery from occupational injuries and illnesses.” To learn more about the IAIABC or this year’s convention, click www.iaiabic.org.