F&P Secures a National Ranking for Law360’s 2021 Glass Ceiling Report

F&P continues to shatter the glass ceiling by securing a national ranking for Law360’s annual report. The firm ranked 16th for firms with 100 or fewer attorneys; 44% of our associates are female, 36.4% are equity partners, and 61.5% are non-equity partners. The methodology behind this year’s rankings (a redesign of the Glass Ceiling Report) shows how the percentage of women across the three attorney levels compares with the field of new hires. This redesign was due in part to the effect that the pandemic had on female attorneys.

In 2020, 54% of students enrolled in law school were female and outnumbered men for the fifth year. Despite this trend, a relatively small number of female attorneys will achieve equity partner or acquire a seat on the executive committee, and the struggle remains for female representation. F&P strives to maintain a focus on hiring a diverse workforce and appreciates Law360 for recognizing the firms making efforts to close the gender gap.

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



“Best Lawyers” Announces 2022 Honorees

“Best Lawyers” recently announced the designees for “Best Lawyers” and “Ones to Watch” for 2022. These selections are determined entirely by peer review and assessed by colleagues in the same geographical and legal practice areas. Criteria include legal expertise, ethics, and professionalism and are awarded to attorneys who have been in practice for more than ten years. “Ones to Watch” are selected by the same methodology and are given to attorneys who are still early in their careers and have been practicing for less than ten years.

Honorees for 2022 include:

“Best Lawyers”

Ralph Arnsdorf
Tamara Goorevitz (new for 2022)
Bert Randall
Lynn Fitzpatrick

“Ones to Watch”

John Archibald (new for 2022)
Michael Bennett (new for 2022)
James Hetzel
Heather Rice (new for 2022)
Bryce Ziskind
Elena Patarinski

To learn more about “Best Lawyers,” visit www.bestlawyers.com.


Andrew Stephenson to Speak At ACTA Annual Conference

F&P principal Andrew Stephenson is slated to speak at the American College of Transportation Attorneys’ (ACTA) Annual Conference. This year’s event returns in-person at the Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel on August 19-20.

Andrew will be speaking on, “Defending Against the Manufacturing of Medical Bills for Claims” along with Travis Ginest of Independent Drivers Association,

ACTA is comprised of 25 select members who each have more than 20 years of experience in the trucking industry. ACTA is a non-profit which serves as a legal resource for transportation defense lawyers,

Summer Welcomes New F&P Associates

This summer, F&P welcomes two workers’ comp associates in Maryland and Virginia. Associate Marleigh Davis is also returning to Baltimore as a worker’s compensation attorney.

Marleigh Davis is rejoining the Baltimore workers’ compensation team. She knew she wanted to focus her career in litigation after clerking for the Honorable Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Marleigh was an Associate Comments Editor with the University of Baltimore Law Review and a Rule 19-220 Student Attorney in the Juvenile Justice Project clinic during law school.  Marleigh was also a research assistant for Professor Barbara Babb.

Tim Hartman is the newest edition to Baltimore’s workers’ compensation practice. Before joining Franklin and Prokopik, Tim worked for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance, providing COVID-19 relief for business owners across the country through both the EIDL and SVOG programs. Tim led a 100-person team, providing guidance on corporate legal issues and ensuring efficient disbursement of federal relief funds.

Allyson Blazey is resident in our Herndon office, focusing on her practice on workers’ comp.  Since being sworn into the Virginia Bar in 2018, Allyson has focused her practice exclusively on Virginia Workers’ Compensation. Before joining Franklin & Prokopik, Allyson represented employers, insurers, and third-party administrators in workers’ compensation claims before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission at an insurance defense litigation firm in Virginia.

Lynn Fitzpatrick Named as One of “Virginia’s Go To Lawyers”

Franklin & Prokopik is proud to announce that principal Lynn Fitzpatrick has been named one of Virginia’s Go To Lawyers” for workers’ compensation by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. The publication added the workers’ comp category this year in addition to honorees for business law and employment law.

Lynn has been practicing in the area of civil litigation, especially the defense of state workers’ compensation cases, for more than 28 years. She is resident in F&P’s Herndon office.

Virginia Lawyers Weekly designates a “Go To Lawyer” as an expert in his or her field and has extensive knowledge of case law, statutes, and regulations. This lawyer has a strong success record with cases that can speak to his or her quality of advice

Click here to read more about this honor.

F&P Welcomes New Associates During Pandemic

F&P is pleased to announce the addition of five new associates firm-wide in the last eight months. Despite the pandemic causing disruptions to businesses and industries worldwide, F&P has continued to grow and we would like to introduce you to our new attorneys.

Jessica Corace joins the Baltimore liability defense team. She concentrates her practice in construction and general civil litigation. She has extensive litigation experience in toxic tort, personal injury, and breach of contract matters. She brings a well-rounded perspective having represented both plaintiffs and defendants.

Daniel Cornell is the newest member of the Baltimore workers’ compensation practice. Before joining F&P, Dan was a health law attorney with CloudMed, LLC where he appealed claim denials with insurance companies as well as state and federal agencies on behalf of healthcare systems and hospitals in the U.S. and its territories. Prior to his legal career, Dan spent time working for a trucking company based in Pennsylvania and served as a police officer in Virginia.

Ben J. Crawley-Woods, born and raised in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, is the newest member of our Martinsburg office. He focused on liability defense and insurance coverage analysis before pursuing a business venture as a solo practitioner. Ben handled almost 500 cases in his general practice, taking matters to jury trial in state and federal court. His clients’ issues ranged from workers’ compensation and ERISA disputes to criminal indictments. Outside of his law practice, Ben has served as an adjunct professor of political science at Shepherd University.

Colin Grigg comes to F&P from the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office where he litigated more than 80 trials, including over 25 jury trials to verdict. Colin was also a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Althea M. Handy in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Bryce Ziskind rounds out the Baltimore liability team with a focus on the defense of insurance carriers and private individuals. Bryce has defended clients from claims of personal injury, negligence, and breach of contract. Since joining F&P, Bryce represents clients in a variety of matters including cargo loss, catastrophic accident/injury/tort claims, general negligence, and breach of contract.

F&P Obtains Dismissal of Workers’ Compensation Claimant’s Action for Judicial Review in Reported Decision from MD Court of Special Appeals

On March 31, 2021, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, in a reported opinion, reversed the Circuit Court for Harford County’s grant of summary judgment to a workers’ compensation claimant.  The Circuit Court had granted judgment despite the fact that the claimant was seeking judicial review of a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision that chose not to exercise its plenary power to re-open or re-visit a prior order adverse to the claimant.  Applying precedent from the Court of Appeals, the intermediate appellate court had no difficulty holding that there is still no right of judicial review when the Commission chooses not to disturb a prior award or order.  Rather, the Court held that the Circuit Court should have granted the Employer’s (the Harford County Board of Education) and Insurer’s (the Maryland Association of Boards of Education) motion to dismiss the action.  F&P Principal David A. Skomba argued the case before the Court of Special Appeals and was joined on brief by fellow Principal Angela Garcia Kozlowski and Associate Natalie J. Johnson.

View the argument and decision.

Franklin & Prokopik Secures Complete Reversal of $400,000 Jury Verdict in Premises Liability Case

On February 25, 2021, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a $400,000 jury verdict entered against one of Franklin & Prokopik’s retail clients in 2019.  The case involved a customer who sued a grocery store alleging that she was struck while shopping by a stocking cart being pushed by a vendor who was at the store stocking its merchandise.  Plaintiff claimed that the vendor should be treated as the grocery store’s employee. Plaintiff’s counsel, who deployed the “Reptile Theory” in opening and closing arguments, also argued that because the business had no security footage of the incident, the business must have spoliated/destroyed evidence.  There was no evidence offered of the destruction of video at trial.  Instead, the store owner offered testimony that the store’s surveillance system did not capture the incident at issue.  Over challenges raised by the store, the trial court allowed the jury to decide whether the vendor was an employee of the store and provided a jury instruction related to spoliation of evidence. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff at trial.  On appeal, The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed the jury’s verdict and ordered that a defense judgment be entered in favor of the store. Firm Principal Steve Marshall tried the jury trial and briefed and argued the successful appeal.

In reversing the trial court, the Court of Special Appeals held that a defense judgment should have been entered at the close of the Plaintiff’s case, as there was insufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the store owner could be vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of an employee of a vendor. The Court held that general control over an independent contractor’s work, such as having the vendor check in, and reviewing the vendor’s work once completed, or allowing the vendor to use a stocking cart, does not amount to the type of control that the store had to exert over the vendor’s employee in order for the store to be vicariously liable for the vendor’s actions.  As the store did not have control over the “method and operative detail” of the vendor’s work, there was no basis for establishing vicarious liability on the store owner. To that end, the Court reversed the jury’s verdict and directed the entry of a defense judgment in the case.

The Court of Special Appeals also held that the trial court abused its discretion in providing a jury instruction as to spoliation of evidence. The opinion clarified that under Maryland law before a spoliation instruction can be given to a jury, a plaintiff must establish, and the trial court must make a legal determination that evidence actually existed and was destroyed. The Court noted that in this case, Plaintiff did not meet her burden to show that direct evidence of the video surveillance footage of the incident actually existed or that it was destroyed. As such, the trial court improperly provided the instruction as to spoliation of evidence because it invited and permitted the jury to speculate regarding concealment, destruction, and failure to preserve evidence that was never shown to actually exist.  The Court found that to be significantly prejudicial to the store. Even though the Court had already directed that judgment be entered in favor of the Defendant, the Court said it would have still reversed the judgment based on the spoliation instruction and ordered a new trial.

This is also the first reported case in which an appellate court in Maryland has addressed the impropriety of Plaintiff’s attorneys’ use of the Reptile Theory in opening and closing arguments.  Specifically, the Court here admonished Plaintiff’s counsel’s use of reptilian tactics in both his opening and closing statements as encouraging jurors to make the store owner an insurer of its customers’ safety while on its premises. The Court stated that these tactics and arguments invite jurors to disregard their oaths and to become non-objective viewers of the evidence or to go outside that evidence to bear on the issues of damages; purely subjective considerations are improper in Maryland. While not determinative to the outcome of this case, the opinion provides the basis for mounting legal challenges to a Plaintiff’s bar that loves to embrace the use of the Reptile Theory.

This case is a significant decision that will provide clear guidance to trial courts moving forward when dealing with cases involving the actions of vendors and their employees while in a retail establishment.  It also serves to guard against completely fabricated claims invented by plaintiffs that the absence of video surveillance of an incident equates to some act of destruction of evidence.  The law is now clear that before a trial court can grant a spoliation instruction, the trial court must first find that there was evidence that actually existed and which was destroyed or not properly preserved.

The reported case is Giant of Maryland, LLC v. Karen Webb (No. 413, September Term, 2019).

See the memorandum and opinion here: https://www.courts.state.md.us/data/opinions/cosa/2021/0413s19.pdf.

If you have any questions regarding this case or any other retail and hospitality matter, please contact Steve Marshall at smarshall@fandpnet.com or at 410-230-3612.

Principal Ralph Arnsdorf is Selected Fellow in the Construction Lawyers Society of America

Ralph L. Arnsdorf, F&P principal, has been selected as a Fellow in the Construction Lawyers Society of America. Ralph is one of 1,200 attorneys, throughout the United States and internationally, to be given this honor. The Fellowship is an invite-only, society of construction attorneys. Lawyers are selected based on accomplishments in any of the disciplines within construction law as well as possessing a superior ethical reputation.

An experienced civil litigator, Ralph has been providing a broad spectrum of legal services to clients for more than 35 years. He works extensively in the construction field and has represented architects and engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, owners, and suppliers in a full range of cases from construction site accidents to delay and disruption of schedule claims.

Attorneys are selected to Fellowship membership through Fellow input, nominations by Fellows, research, attorney opinions, as well as some input from active and retired judges, among other qualifications. The CLSA strives for a preeminent level of diversity and most fellows are on the partner or shareholder level in their respective firms. For more information, please visit the CLSA site at https://www.constructionsociety.org/.


F&P Spotlight on Paralegal Christine Mueller

What is your practice area and how did you choose it?
I am a litigation paralegal in insurance defense concentrating mostly on Commercial Transportation or premise liability cases.

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
I like that I have established a trusting relationship with our clients. If at any time the attorney is unavailable, our clients will contact me to discuss a case or relay information. It shows how important my job as a paralegal truly is.

What is your favorite aspect of working at F&P?
Overall, I love the people I work with. Our liability team works extremely well together and are always more than willing to help each other out.

Favorite Restaurant:
Chiapparelli’s  — I could eat their salad for days

Favorite Show:
Friends (all time): This Is Us (Current)

Favorite Event in Baltimore: 
Generally, I love live music. Baltimore has such a huge local music scene.  But if I had to pick just one particular event, it would be opening day for baseball. I love how alive our city becomes.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Honestly, I believe the fact that I have been at the same job now for almost 16 years is a huge accomplishment. In our current times, not a lot of people can say that. Most people do not stay in one position for very long. I have established a good relationship with our clients and they know I am someone they can rely on.

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
This is more of a fun fact but I traveled a lot growing up and was able to go hang gliding off a cliff in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when I was in High school

What do you like to do outside the office?
When I am not working I like to spend time with friends and family especially my 8-year-old twins, run a girl scout troop, see live music shows and go to baseball/football games.

Have you read any good books or seen any good movies this year that you would recommend?
The Way Back; Queen’s Gambit (mini-series)

What is your favorite food?
Mexican is my absolute favorite but Italian and India aren’t too far behind

What is your all-time favorite city or town and why?
I don’t have a favorite but I have the best memories in Las Vegas and New York City. I was able to celebrate my 21st birthday in Las Vegas with family and friends. I’ve been so many times and even witnessed my best friends get married there on more than one occasion. I love the atmosphere of NYC and the hustle and bustle and that there is always something to do.

What was the best news you ever received?
When I found out I was having twins. There is nothing like it.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Anyone that knows me knows I don’t eat weird hahaha I barely eat normally

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world who would it be?
Drew Barrymore has been my all-time favorite person since I was a teenager.  I would love to have lunch with her.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
Not that I can think of