2018 News Items

Bradley Ellis Attends Spring Board Meeting of American Hiking Society

Thursday May 10, 2018

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SARASOTA, FL – Attorney Bradley Ellis attended the spring meeting of American Hiking Society's Board of Directors which took place at Grand Canyon National Park. The AHS is a national non-profit that for 40 years has promoted and protected foot trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience.

At the meeting, the Board began a strategic planning process that will conclude this winter and plan for AHS' next 10 years. Bradley has served on the Board since October 2015. He currently serves as the Board Vice-Chair and Strategic Planning Chair and will become the Board Chair in January 2019.

Icard Merrill proudly serves as a corporate sponsor of AHS. Bradley's wife, Megan Ellis, accompanied Bradley for the Board meeting to take in some hikes and sights.

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Sarasota FAWL Hosts Judicial Reception

Thursday May 3, 2018

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MAY 3, 2018 – The Sarasota Chapter of Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) held a reception at the Sarasota Yacht Club.  FAWL hosted judges from the Second District Court of Appeal and the 12th Judicial Circuit to mingle with members of FAWL and the Sarasota County Bar Association (SCBA). 

Judge Erika Quartermaine was recognized for her groundbreaking work with the Mental Health Court. 

Incoming FAWL President and Attorney Jessica Farrelly presented a charitable donation of $2,000 to the Executive Director of Cenacle Legal Services and longstanding FAWL Board Member, Evelyn Moya, to assist Cenacle in fulfilling its mission of providing pro bono legal services to the working poor.

Steps to Take Before Your Company is Hit with an Employee Lawsuit

Monday Apr 30, 2018

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Steps to Take Before Your Company is Hit with an Employee Lawsuit

by Jessica M. Farrelly
April 30, 2018 

Six out of 10 employers have faced employee lawsuits within the last five years. During fiscal year 2017 alone, more than 84,000 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 6,858 of those charges were filed against Florida employers. In Florida, retaliation was the most frequently filed charge (50.8%), followed by disability discrimination (32.4%), and race discrimination (31.4%). The EEOC also received 6,696 sexual harassment charges and obtained $46.3 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment. Those numbers are only expected to climb as a result of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

It’s not just large corporations that are being hit. Roughly 41.5% of employee lawsuits are brought against private companies with between 15-100 employees. The financial damage can be dramatic; the cost of settling out of court averages $40,000, and the average jury award hits $217,000 if you go to court and lose.

For all of these reasons, it is beneficial for any executive or human resources manager to investigate their company’s Employment Practices Liability Insurance (“EPLI”) coverage, if any. EPLI can save employers money. At its basic level, EPLI helps protect employers from financial risks associated with various types of employee-related legal claims, including discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and a multitude of other types of claims. Attorneys’ fees and costs are generally included in the coverage, subject to a deductible.

However, when you have a trusted relationship with counsel who is familiar with your business, do not wait until your company has been served with a threatened litigation letter, a charge of discrimination, or a lawsuit to inform the insurance carrier about your preferred counsel. Be proactive. To ensure your company has the right to choose counsel and that your trusted employment lawyer will be able to defend your company’s interests, take the following steps at the time you obtain EPLI coverage, or upon renewal:

  • Read the Policy:  What does the policy’s provision on selection of counsel say?
  • Team Up with Your Insurance Broker:  Make sure you align with the insurance broker who has been, or will be placing, the EPLI policy for your company. The broker should be knowledgeable about the terms of coverage and be able to tell you exactly what the coverage calls for in terms of the ability to select counsel. Additionally, find out whether your insurance broker has any internal contacts at the insurance company that underwrites the policy. The broker may be able to speak with his/her contacts about: (a) changing or amending the terms of the policy to allow the company to select its own counsel in the event of a claim; and/or (b) adding your preferred employment lawyer and law firm to the list of approved firms used by the insurance company.
  • Negotiate:  Be mindful of the leverage you may have at the time of obtaining and/or renewing your EPLI coverage.  The insurance company wants your business, particularly if you have a large policy with a significant premium. In attempting to persuade the insurance carrier, you can inform them that your lawyer and/or law firm already knows your business, your policies and procedures, the players involved, the jurisdiction, locale, and judges most likely to be involved in your case.  All of these factors equal a cost savings to the insurance carrier, as compared with new lawyers who would have to spend time (i.e., billable time) getting acquainted with your business and the backdrop in which the claim arose. Those are great selling points.
  • Confirm the Endorsement: If you are successful in negotiating a separate agreement or specific endorsement to the policy which gives you the right to select counsel, or to add your preferred law firm to the list of firms used by the insurance company, be sure to carefully review the endorsement and confirm it grants you the specific right you’ve negotiated.

Litigation is inevitably stressful, but one way you can diminish that stress is by having your trusted lawyer by your side. I have been approved as panel counsel defending employers in both Florida and Massachusetts for numerous EPLI insurance carriers over the course of my 20-year career.  Often times, when insurance carriers are informed of a lawyer’s familiarity with the insured’s business, and also with the protocols and guidelines of the insurance carrier, approval is more readily obtained.

In today’s litigious climate where disgruntled employees are quick to commence legal action, don’t wait for the proverbial shoe to drop. Be proactive. Investigate the insurance coverage your company currently has, and leverage your business by confirming the right to choose your desired lawyer should a claim arise under your EPLI policy. Please contact me if you would like guidance regarding compliance with anti-discrimination laws or assistance with securing approval for Icard Merrill to act as defense counsel for your company under a particular policy.

Jessica M. Farrell, Esq.
Employment Law Practice Group
Icard Merrill
941.366.8100
jfarrelly@icardmerrill.com

Nine Icard Merrill Attorneys Honored for Pro Bono Service

Monday Apr 30, 2018

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SARASOTA, FL – Nine attorneys from the law firm of Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen and Ginsburg, P.A. were honored with Pro Bono Service Awards from Legal Aid of Manasota. The annual awards recognize attorneys who have donated their services to provide legal services at no cost to those in need. The Gold Pro Bono Award for over 100 hours of donated time was presented to Thomas Icard and Anthony Manganiello. The Silver Pro Bono Award for 50-99 donated hours went to Tad Drean and Jordan Riccardi. The Bronze Award for 20-49 hours was given to Jessica Farrelly, Jason Lessinger, Robert Lyons, Lindsey Meshberger, and John Waskom.

For over 25 years, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s pro bono program, Legal Aid of Manasota, has endeavored to provide equal access to justice for the underprivileged with the support of hundreds of attorneys, local law firms, bar associations, sponsors, and volunteers. With offices in Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Legal Aid of Manasota serves thousands of indigent clients by providing free legal services and community education classes. In addition to helping those in need, they assist local nonprofit agencies and partners with State College of Florida to train paralegal students. They strive to provide their clients with the peace of mind that comes with having effective assistance of counsel as they wade into the legal system, many for the very first time.

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Icard Merrill is a full-service law firm based in Sarasota, Florida, delivering innovative and effective legal solutions through dedicated and caring professionals. Icard Merrill offers clients more than 65 years of comprehensive legal experience in over 20 practice areas, including business, commercial, and construction litigation, real estate, land use, family law, probate, tax, and estate planning. The cornerstone of Icard Merrill is an enduring commitment to excellence, integrity, fairness, and the community. More information is available at icardmerrill.com.  

 

Icard Merrill Hosts “Women Out Front & Behind the Scenes”

Wednesday Mar 21, 2018

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Icard Merrill was proud to host the “Women Out Front & Behind the Scenes” event, sponsored by the Sarasota Chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL). The event celebrated three FAWL standouts and the dedicated judicial assistants of the 12th Judicial Circuit. IM’s Jessica Farrelly serves as FAWL’s president-elect.

PICTURED:
Back row - Jessica M. Farrelly (President-Elect), Alexis Rosenberg (President), Stephanie Murphy (Board Member)
Front row - Honorees: Vice Mayor Liz Alpert, Honorable Susan B. Maulucci, and Marjorie Schmoyer.

 

 

Jessica M. Farrelly presented #MeToo Sarasota

Friday Jan 26, 2018

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Jessica M. Farrelly of Icard Merrill and Christine R. Sensenig of Hultman Sensenig + Joshi recently presented #MeToo Sarasota for members of the Sarasota Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers ("FAWL") and The Labor & Employment Law Section of the Sarasota County Bar Association ("SCBA"). Attorney Farrelly currently serves as President-Elect of the Sarasota Chapter of FAWL and Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the SCBA.

This timely and engaging discussion educated attendees on the definition of sexual harassment under federal and state law, presented various scenarios of unwelcome conduct, discussed employee rights and employer obligations under the law, and equipped participants with tools to prevent and respond to complaints, and cultivate a harassment-free workplace.