F&P Participates in Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Certification

Franklin & Prokopik continues to explore ways to strengthen our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. The firm is pleased to announce we are currently participating in the Mansfield Rule for midsize law firm’s cohort.  F&P is one of more than 70 firms working toward certification.

The Mansfield Rule is designed to diversify leadership in law firms by increasing the representation of historically underrepresented lawyers in firm leadership.  Among several parameters, this entails including 30% of female attorneys, attorneys of color, LGTBQ+ attorneys, and/or attorneys with disabilities for hiring considerations, promotions, client pitches, and senior lateral positions.

The certification process will be completed in July 2024, and F&P must meet specific and measurable objectives to earn this distinction.

F&P continues to be an equal opportunity employer, believing that a diverse workforce best suits the needs of our clients. We are committed to recruiting and promoting attorneys regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Our participation with the Mansfield Rule reinforces our dedication to continued positive change and ongoing focus on DEI.

To learn more about the Midsize Mansfield Rule, please visit Midsize Mansfield Rule – Diversity Lab Diversity Lab.

F&P Promotes Five Principals and One Counsel for 2024

Franklin & Prokopik welcomes 2024 by congratulating five attorneys who have been promoted to principal and one promoted to counsel. These attorneys have helped elevate the firm as a standout in the legal field, the courtroom, and with clients and colleagues. Please join us in congratulating these attorneys and thanking them for their hard work!

Principal

Neal Adkins concentrates his practice in the areas of workers’ compensation and employers’ liability, representing employers and insurers at the administrative hearing and appellate levels. A seasoned litigation attorney, Neal spent nearly 15 years representing claimants and plaintiffs before joining F&P in 2014. His experience during this time enabled him to gain a deep understanding of the tactics used by both parties, and he is able to utilize this as a way to counter strategies.

Cindy Armstrong represents employers and insurers in workers’ compensation matters before the Workers’ Compensation Commission and courts throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. She has been practicing law for almost 17 years, and all of her legal experience has been in the workers’ compensation industry. Before joining F&P, Cindy was a partner at a private workers’ compensation firm.

Michael Bennett brings nearly two decades of legal experience. Since joining Franklin and Prokopik in 2015, Mike has litigated hundreds of cases at the Workers’ Compensation Commission and over a dozen jury and bench trials throughout the state. He has also briefed and argued matters before the Maryland appellate courts. Mike has returned several defense jury trial verdicts and victories at the appellate courts.

Robert Hunt, Jr. joined F&P’s Delaware office in 2013, concentrating his practice in workers’ compensation and employers’ liability. He has experience representing clients at all stages of the litigation process, from hearings before the Industrial Accident Board and appeals to the Delaware Superior and Supreme Court to settlement and mediation. His clients primarily include employers, insurers, and third-party administrators from companies of all sizes across various industries.

Eric Scott Thompson concentrates his practice on representing the rights of business and individual defendants in civil actions and, in doing so, has tried cases before all levels of courts in Delaware in addition to administrative boards. He is an adjunct instructor at Wilmington University and volunteers his time for Delaware Volunteer Litigation Services, representing indigent clients in guardianship matters.

Counsel

Melissa McGaunn

Super Lawyers Selects 20 F&P Attorneys to 2024 Ratings

Today, Super Lawyers announced its annual Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists in Maryland, and F&P boasts 20 attorneys to receive this honor for 2024. Super Lawyers selects the top 5% of attorneys each year, while Rising Stars is no more than 2.5%. The attorney-led research staff evaluates candidates on 12 peer review and professional competence indicators.

For more information about Super Lawyers and its selection process, please click here to visit their website.

Super Lawyers
Albert B. Randall, Jr.
Angela Garcia Kozlowski
John J. Handscomb
Laura S. McKenzie
Maija  B. Jackson
Tamara B. Goorevitz
William A. Crawford
Jennifer F. Hare

Rising Stars
April M. Kerns
Ellen R. Stewart
Heather A. Rice
James K. Hetzel
Jessica B. Pupkin
Joshua T. Carback
Kara K. Parker
Marleigh A. Severe
Marni E. Sperling
Matthew E. LaFontaine
Patrick M. Wachter
Renee L. Bowen

Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Amusement Park Liability Case

After a five-day jury trial in the US District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, Firm Principals David A. Skomba and Tamara B. Goorevitz, along with Firm Associate Jessica B. Pupkin, obtained a defense judgment in favor of Six Flags America on November 5, 2023.

The case, Balchi v. Six Flags America LP, involved a serious multi-ligamentous knee and related peroneal nerve injury incurred on a water attraction in Hurricane Harbor that resulted in several surgeries and over $100,000 in past medical expenses.  The plaintiff was forced to concede that the ride itself was safe but argued that he was not properly warned/instructed how to ride.  Six Flags was able to show, using the expert testimony of nationally recognized biomechanical engineer Douglas Morr of SEA, that the accident could not have happened unless the plaintiff failed to follow the ride instructions that he conceded were given to him.  The jury agreed, and after several hours of deliberations, returned a defense verdict in favor of the Park.

The plaintiff argued that the jury should award some $815,000 in damages in closing.  Six Flags trusted F&P’s recommendation that the matter, a classic “high damages, low liability” case, should be tried and that trust resulted in the defense verdict and judgment.

“Best Law Firms” Awards F&P Metropolitan Tier 1 Ranking

Best Lawyers publicly announced their 2024 “Best Law Firms®” rankings, including Franklin & Prokopik as a recognized firm for the sixth consecutive year. We received multiple Metropolitan Tier 1 rankings for Workers’ Compensation Law and will be featured in the 14th edition of the Best Law Firms® publication, distributed to 30,000 C-Suite and in-house counsel.

A firm must have at least one lawyer currently recognized in The Best Lawyers in America to be eligible. The recipient must practice in a Best Law Firms practice area and jurisdiction. The research process includes client and professional references, firm information, lawyer evaluations, and industry leader interviews. This year, “Best Law Firms” had record-breaking participation, receiving more than 23,000 lawyer evaluations and almost 100,000 client references reviewed.

F&P is pleased to be recognized in the following areas:

  • Metropolitan Tier 1
    • Baltimore
      • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers
    • Washington, D.C.
      • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers
  • Metropolitan Tier 2
    • Baltimore
      • Litigation – Insurance
  • Metropolitan Tier 3
    • Baltimore
      • Construction Law
      • Litigation – Construction

ABOUT BEST LAW FIRMS®

Debuted in 2010, Best Law Firms® is the most credible rankings of exceptional law firms, rooted in a rigorous, peer-to-peer, industry-driven evaluation. Achieving a tiered ranking in Best Law Firms signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. Ranked firms, presented in three tiers, are recognized on a national and metro-based scale.

To learn more about these rankings, please visit https://bestlawfirms.com.

F&P Spotlight on Principal Stephen J. Marshall

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
When the phone rings at 3:30 a.m., it’s usually not good news, but working with clients through the really bad times and difficult cases makes the good results we obtain together extremely gratifying.

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
I had aspirations to be a classical singer.  I had six years of classical voice training, and as I was graduating high school, I passed up on a scholarship offer to be a vocal performance major in order to pursue pre-law.  Back in the day, I could carry a tune.

What do you like to do outside the office?
I’m actively involved in Stonewall Baltimore, a sports league that raises funds for local LGBTQ charitable causes. Travel, baking, checking out the exceptionally good food scene in Baltimore, and hanging out with my very bestest good boy Gus also keeps me pretty busy.

What is your all-time favorite city or town, and why?
At the very tip of Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims first landed after crossing the sea, sits a former Portuguese fishing village called Provincetown. The ocean, the beaches, the climate, the architecture, the food, the people – it’s just perfect.

What was the best news you ever received?
That I was going to be a big brother – twice.

F&P Spotlight on Associate Kara Parker

What is your practice area and how did you choose it?
Employment Law and Workers’ Comp.  I like the high pace of the Commission work and the “we must protect this house” aspect of employment law and defense litigation.

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
I love the problem-solving aspect of what we do and working with my clients on strategies to meet their needs and limit exposure – Teamwork makes the dream work!

What is your favorite aspect about working at F&P?
Without a doubt, the teamwork and culture.  When I first started at F&P, I knew this was the place for me.  We have fun, work hard, and with the help of everyone from the partners on down work together to make each one of us better every day.  Truly.

What’s your favorite restaurant/show/event in Baltimore?
I love a sporting event – ESPECIALLY, a Ravens game.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Passing the bar!

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
My Frenchie’s name is “Taybur” after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – I’m an old movie freak.

What do you like to do outside the office?
I love being outside.  My fiancé and I do a lot of biking, hiking, and hanging out in bars watching international rugby (Go Wales!)

Have you read any good books or seen any good movies this year that you would recommend?
I read A LOT – If you like fantasy, I HIGHLY recommend the Fourth Wing series.  It’s excellent!

What is your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes.

What is your all-time favorite city or town and why?
B-More (Why B-less?).  I love Baltimore – I always have.  I think our city has a unique vibe and flavor that gets under your skin in all the best ways.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a Purple Friday in this city during football season.

What was the best news you ever received?
The BEST news? That I was an Aunt (x2).  Shout out to Shiloh and Wyatt Saine for allowing me to live out my Auntie Mame fantasies.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Pickled pig’s knuckles – Don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try them!

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world who would it be?
This is a tough one.  Alive: Ray Lewis.  Dead:  Maya Angelou.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
I’m freakishly talented at claw games – The kind you see at the boardwalk or bowling alley.  Weird, I know.

 

Say What? F&P Prevails Before the Appellate Court of Maryland on Hearing Loss Claim

A new reported opinion from the Appellate Court of Maryland (ACM) was issued earlier this month as it relates to occupational deafness claims.  The ACM was tasked with determining whether the last injurious exposure rule applies both to insurers and employers and if it applies to hearing loss claims.

F&P Counsel Mike Bennett represented the appellee, the City of Laurel, and delivered oral arguments at the ACM.  The appellant was the insurance company that provided coverage for Laurel during the majority, but not the entirety, of the claimant’s employment with them several decades ago.  Despite there being no dispute that the employment with Laurel contributed to the claimant’s hearing loss, the appellant argued that they were not responsible for covering the claim since they did not insure Laurel at the time of the claimant’s last injurious exposure with them. The appellant posited that the last injurious exposure rule applies only to insurers, and not employers, in hearing loss cases.

The ACM rejected the appellant’s argument and held that the last injurious exposure rule applies equally to employers and insurers; and that the last injurious exposure rule does not apply to hearing loss claims. In reaching its conclusion, the appellate court went through the legislative history of the various statutes at play, the fact that §19-402(b)(5) of the Insurance Article explicitly states that an award against an employer is also binding against its insurer, and also rejected the public policy arguments advanced by the appellant.

Best Lawyers Announces 2024 Recipients

Best Lawyers has released its “Best Lawyers” and “Ones to Watch” recipients for 2024. F&P is proud to announce 11 of our attorneys received this honor. Best Lawyers are selected exclusively through a peer review process based on practice area and geographic region. These evaluations examine the candidate’s quality of legal services, expertise, ethics, and professionalism. “Ones to Watch” employs the same methodology for attorneys still early in their careers.

Best Lawyers is the oldest peer-review publication in the legal industry. More than 142,000 lawyers worldwide have been recognized amongst 150 practice areas in 76 countries; more than 13 million lawyers were evaluated this year.

2024 Recipients Include:

Best Lawyers

Ralph Arnsdorf
Tamara Goorevitz
Maija Jackson (first-time recipient)
Bert Randall
Lynn Fitzpatrick

Ones to Watch

Michael Bennett
Renee Bowen
James Hetzel
Heather Rice
Ellen Stewart (first-time recipient)

For more information about Best Lawyers, visit the website at www.bestlawyers.com.

F&P Spotlight on Maija Jackson, a Founding Firm Principal

What is your practice area, and how did you choose it?
When I was in Law school at UB, I clerked for a Plaintiff’s law firm.  When one of their attorneys left the firm, I was asked to manage their workers’ compensation claims on a day-to-day basis to get them ready for hearings.  I took Richard LaFata’s workers’ compensation class at UB Law School at night.  After passing the Maryland bar, I became an attorney at that firm, but quickly realized that I looked at the claims from the defense perspective.  I moved on to defense work and have never looked back in almost 40 years.  I have been a founding principal at Franklin & Prokopik in the workers’ compensation practice group for the past 24 years.

What is your favorite aspect of working at F&P?
I love the people I work with.  I truly enjoy my clients.  The collaborative effort is so important.  I feel that we have built a firm that really tries to manage the work/life balance.  We have managed to weather the untimely passing of our principal Bob Franklin as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, and will undoubtedly face challenges in the future as our world changes and evolves.  But I am confident in the strength of the bond with my colleagues and the fact that we all have our complementary strengths and skills that we bring to the operation, management and development of the firm.  I am proud to be associated with F&P and look forward to many years ahead.

What’s your favorite restaurant/show/event in Baltimore?
I love the Kinetic Sculpture Race in May in Baltimore City!  One of my sons participated in the design, construction and racing of entries while he was in high school.  It’s a fantastic event which starts and ends at the American Visual Arts Museum on Key Highway and travels throughout Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton, and Patterson Park.  It’s a great way to spend a spring day and root on the competitors and engineers.

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
My parents met as pen pals and corresponded originally in French.

What do you like to do outside the office?
Exercise, martial arts, stamp collecting, caring for my two cats and my dog, and traveling with my family.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
A Fig Newton doused in ketchup.  It was a 5th grade lunch dare, and while it was not awful, I have never repeated it.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Wow, so many people come to mind, some living and some no longer with us.  I would love to have had lunch with Robin Williams, but I fear that I would never have gotten to eat because I would have been laughing too hard.  Emma Thompson and Queen Elizabeth II are but a few others.

If you had an eighth day every week, how would you spend it?
Relaxing, reading, and rejuvenating to face the new week.