Summary: Plaintiff's wife died and arrangements were made for cremation and visitation at Rose Lawn Funeral Home in Gulf Breeze owned by Alderwoods. Plaintiff's husband, David Edwards, discovered apparent mix ups in delivering his wife's ashes after the cremation. The funeral home and its parent company denied any wrong doing. Mr. Edwards, the former clerk for the U.S. District of the Middle District, retained Mr. Higby who sued the funeral home and its parent company. A confidential settlement was obtained after mediation in the case.
Summary: Plaintiff was taken for a test drive in a Porsche Boxter by Capital Euro Cars salesman, Lorenzo Corona. Corona advised the Plaintiff that he was going to show him how the car could perform, proceeded to take the car 70 miles an hour through an S-curve of a two lane road with a 35 mile per hour speed limit. The salesman lost control, and the Plaintiff, a seat belted passenger in a two seat vehicle, was injured when the car crashed into a culvert. Plaintiff had a pre-existing hip implant which proceeded to break down due to osteolysis over several months after the accident. A substantial confidential settlement was obtained after the court allowed Plaintiff to amend the complaint for punitive damages against Capital's salesman, Mr. Corona.
Summary: Plaintiff was injured while traveling through the West Bay Bridge construction site when a crane positioned in the intra-coastal waterway dropped 6,000 pounds of lumber while swinging the load out over live traffic. Hardaway failed to use a flagger to stop traffic and used an improper sling mechanism to secure the load of lumber. Plaintiff suffered a comminuted fracture of the tibial plateau and back injuries. Plaintiff settled after extensive litigation, but prior to trial for $750,000.00.
Summary: Plaintiff was injured while performing a pressurization test on an air to air heat exchanger for an F-15 fighter aircraft at King Khalid Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The Defendant, Honeywell, manufactured a "cap" which separated from the heat exchanger and injured Plaintiff's arm resulting in five surgeries. Plaintiff, Marty Hughes, retained Cliff Higby and Bob Spohrer of Jacksonville to pursue the claim. At least four other law firms turned the case down believing it was simply a workers' compensation case. The Defendant removed the case to Federal District Court and extensive motions were filed on the issue of forum non-conveniens attempting to transfer the case to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Higby and Mr. Sporher successfully defeated the motions, including using a Georgetown law professor on the issue of Shari-a Islamic law and its inapplicability to the Plaintiff's case. Plaintiff settled the case after mediation for a confidential lump sum.
Summary: Plaintiff's decedent, Mike Austin, was killed in a helicopter crash involving a Bell 47-G. Coastal Helicopters originally denied they had any liability insurance, but after further investigation, Plaintiff's discovered that Coastal did, in fact, have insurance. Plaintiff also brought a claim for punitive damages against the Estate of William Rogers (the pilot), which resulted in disclosure of assets in excess of 1 million dollars. Mr. Higby and attorney Bob Spohrer of Jacksonville retained a metallengist and aviation expert who discovered the clutch drum on the helicopter was defective and had been machined by non-FAA certified mechanics. The total value of the settlement to decedent's wife, Melanie Austin, exceeded 2.5 million dollars.
Summary: Christopher Jones was traveling to work on Interstate 10 early in the morning in March of 2007. Jones passed over a hill six miles east of Crestview and came upon a large semi-tractor tire which he could not avoid. The tire was laying in the inside east bound lane of I-10, and impact with the tire caused Jones air bags to deploy and his truck to swerve out of control towards the South shoulder of I-10. Initially, Plaintiff had no way of knowing who deposited or left the tire in traffic on I-10. The Highway Patrol had closed their investigation. Mr. Higby hired a private investigator, who went to every repair facility 50 miles east and west of the accident scene, and it was ultimately learned that a tractor trailer for Southern Tire, Inc. out of Mobile, Alabama, had, in fact, encountered a repair very near the accident site. Forensic investigation through expert witnesses established that the tire in possession of the Plaintiffs after the accident matched exactly with respect to tire manufacturer serial numbers the tires on Southern's trailer in question. After the depositions of the corporate representatives and driver for Southern were taken, the case settled in excess of Southern Tire's policy limits.
Summary: Plaintiff, Shirley Harlow, was a candidate for lung transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, due to a condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She wore an "oxilite" air tank to assist with her breathing and walked three miles a day in preparation for her lung transplant surgery. She had lost over sixty pounds conditioning herself for the lung transplant surgery. Mrs. Harlow was broad sided by a large street sweeper truck owned by GeoWaste which ran a red light in Lynn Haven, Florida. The doctors at Mayo Clinic advised that Mrs. Harlow could not be a viable candidate for lung transplant surgery, which assured Mrs. Harlow she would be dying from her pulmonary fibrosis condition. The case was tried before a Bay County jury, and just before closing arguments, GeoWaste's insurance company paid $850,000.00 to avoid a large verdict. Mr. Higby expedited the case under Florida Judicial and Administrative rules, and the check was received exactly one day to the year after Mrs. Harlow's accident.
Summary: Teresa Cotter was married at common law to Randall Stewart in the State of Texas. They had lived in Florida for over two years, but had never been formally married in the state. Stewart was killed on his motorcycle on Thomas Drive when an Etheridge Cabinet truck pulled in front of him and violated his right of way. Stewart was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but Mr. Higby obtained expert witness testimony which proved that a helmet would have made no difference in the outcome of the accident. Mr. Higby also petitioned the court to recognize Teresa Cotter and Randall Stewart's common law Texas marriage and have Ms. Cotter appointed personal representative of Stewart's estate. The case settled for $500,000.00 before suit was filed.
Summary: Plaintiff, Gypsy Wotring, was severely injured when a drug dealer trying to evade police in a high speed chase ran a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 98 and Everitt Avenue. Mrs. Wotring obtained multiple soft tissue injuries, but ultimately was left with a condition known as lymphedema. Mrs. Wotring and her husband had uninsured motorist coverage with USAA. Mr. Higby successfully pursued a claim on their behalf and the case settled for a confidential amount at mediation.
Summary: Plaintiff, Jeff Prumatico, was injured in Destin when the Defendant, Keefer, ran the red light at Highway 98 and the intersection for Sand Destin. Mr. Prumatico was driving a truck owned by his employer, Treasure Island Marina, and therefore received workers' compensation benefits. Mr. Higby sued the Defendant Keefer and achieved a confidential settlement which adequately covered all workers' compensation liens and Mr. Prumatico's future claims.
Summary: Plaintiff, Barry Broglin, was working for his employer laying fiber-optic cable in Baldwin County, Alabama. Mr. Broglin was driving a Caterpillar backhoe which veered off the dirt logging road he was on and ejected Mr. Broglin due to a faulty seatbelt, and a faulty brake lock down mechanism. Mr. Higby retained Birmingham Attorney, David Elloitt, of the law firm Burr & Forman, and the two firms brought a claim on Mr. Broglin's behalf under an exception to Alabama workers' compensation law. The exemption provides there can be direct liability against an employee where a fellow employee has disabled a safety device on a piece of equipment. The Plaintiffs settled the case in excess of 1.5 million dollars after Plaintiffs' expert demonstrated that the employer had willfully disabled the brake lock down mechanism. This was done through detailed photographs taken by the expert witness during investigation of the backhoe.
Summary: Mr. Higby was hired to conduct financial discovery in this divorce case where Petitioner, Sandra Haire's ex-husband claimed he had a negative net worth. After much discovery, including depositions of the ex-husband's accountants and the husband himself, including third party discovery to casinos and other entities, Plaintiff achieved a settlement in excess of 3.5 million dollars for Mrs. Haire. Mr. Higby worked in conjunction with prominent Atlanta attorney, Leigh Baier, on this case.
Summary: Barbara Stoner's son, Jarred Stoner, was 18 and traveling as a passenger late one night in Panama City when the Camaro he was traveling in was broadsided by William Culley, of Curt Miller Oil Company. Culley was driving a semi-tractor trailer from the Panama City fuel depot north on Harrison Avenue. Stoner and the driver of Camaro were traveling east across Harrison Avenue at the intersection 13th Street. Plaintiff sued Culley and Miller Oil Company, and determined through deposition and discovery that the truck driver was 67 years old, diabetic, and blind in one eye. Additionally, Mr. Culley was using a "radar detector" device in his tractor trailer rig which was carrying a full load of gasoline in the center of the city. The case settled for a confidential amount just before trial.
Summary: This engineering malpractice case resulted from a failure of the Defendants to obtain an appropriate development order for the Plaintiff, Michael Meints, who built six town homes an Compass Lake in Jackson County, Florida. The Plaintiff completed construction on his project, but could not get a Certificate of Occupancy for over eight months after the project was completed due to errors by the engineers. Meanwhile, all of Plaintiffs contracts on the six units fell through, and Plaintiff was left with the obligation for the note and construction mortgage on the project. A confidential settlement was reached after mediation, and one month prior to a bench trial in Jackson County, Florida.
Summary: Tim Lewis was a heavy equipment operator for Pettibone Construction when he was injured while driving his company vehicle north on Highway 231. The Defendant driver hydroplaned and came all the way across the median resulting in a head-on collision and multiple fractures to Plaintiff's wrist. Plaintiff's employer, Pettibone Construction, maintained uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $500,000.00. Plaintiff settled his case with the UM carrier for $450,000.00.
Kenneth Campbell v. City of Pensacola - False Arrest/Violation
Federal Court Case #3:13-cv-161-MCR/EMT of Civil Rights
Mr. Higby represented the Plaintiff, Kenneth Campbell, an Escambia County middle school Music Teacher who was wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct by a ten year old student. Campbell was arrested and Mr. Higby contended the arrest and four day imprisonment were done without probable cause. Campbell was pictured on the front page of the Pensacola News and branded with a sex crime. The Pensacola Police and the Detective who investigated the case arrested Mr. Campbell despite every witness contradicting the alleged victim. The victim recanted her entire story after it became apparent her story could not be true, and that she was having abuse issues at home from her own parents. Suit was brought in Federal Court and settled for $125,000.00 and a public apology by the City of Pensacola.
Michael and Connie Ates v. - Medical Malpractice/
Gulf Coast Medical Center et al Emergency Room Failure
Bay County Case #2010-1259-CA to Diagnose Ischemic Stroke
Mr. Higby and Tallahassee attorney Sidney Matthew represented Mr. Ates in this medical malpractice case against HCA Gulf Coast Medical Center. Mr. Ates went to the emergency room at the local hospital on consecutive days complaining of nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, and facial droop. He was diagnosed on the first visit with food poisoning. He was diagnosed on the second visit with vertigo. Mr. Ates went home and his symptoms got no better over the weekend. He went to his General Practitioner on the following Monday, who immediately recognized Mr. Ates was having symptoms of an ischemic stroke. He ordered an MRI which confirmed the acute infarcts. Mr. Higby and Mr. Matthew obtained expert testimony from world renowned Emergency Medicine Expert Richard Zane of Harvard University. The expert opined that Mr. Ates' condition should have been diagnosed, and that the clot busting medication TPA would have effectively treated Mr. Ates' stroke. The case settled for a confidential amount after several years of litigation, during which the hospital never offered any money pre-suit or before mediation.
Raymond Kendrick v. Edgewater Beach Resort - Pool Diving Accident
Bay County Case #86-1679-CA Negligence/Premises Liability
Mr. Higby and Mr. Bryant defended Edgewater Beach Resort in this Quadriplegic Dive case where the plaintiff suffered a broken neck after diving into the Resort pool from a lifeguard stand. The case was originally disposed of on Summary Judgment and was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. The matter was reversed and returned to the Trial Court in Bay County for a two week jury trial. Plaintiff contended the Resort did not have adequate Lifeguards, a proper pool permit, and that the pool was negligently designed and dangerous. Plaintiff asked the Jury for over 14 million dollars. The Jury sided with the Resort and the Firm's insurance client, Fireman's Fund Insurance ended up paying less than $150,000.00 after offering over $800,000.00 before Trial.
David Jordan v. Chateau Motel - Pool Diving Accident
Bay County Case #90-2641-CA Negligence/Premises Liability
Mr. Higby defended this Pool Diving accident where the plaintiff dove into the shallow end of a Hotel swimming pool on a 4th of July weekend. The plaintiff suffered a broken neck and was rendered a quadriplegic. Through discovery, Mr. Higby located a photograph from a fellow guest showing the plaintiff sitting by the pool's edge drinking a Budweiser Beer right next to a 3 foot Depth Marker. While the plaintiff had denied knowledge of the depth of the pool or prohibitions on diving in the shallow end of the pool, the photos and witness statements severely impeached the plaintiff s case. The case settled for a confidential amount just before Trial.
Estate of McCloud v. Jacksonville Aviation Authority - Negligence/Premises
Duval County Case #16-2012-CA-004576 Liability Hotel Murder
Estate of McCloud v. Jacksonville Aviation Authority, et al - Mr. Higby and Mr. Barr defended this premises liability case involving a shooting and murder at a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party hosted at the Jacksonville Airport Clarion Hotel. The Jacksonville Aviation Authority owned the Hotel Property. The Clarion Hotel, through Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, agreed to indemnify the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. Plaintiff sued the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and claimed they had a non-delegable duty to provide security and premises that were safe. In discovery, it was determined that the Shooter and the Decedent had an extensive prior relationship dealing guns and drugs, and the shooting was a revenge killing. Mr. Higby made a $200.00 Offer of Judgment after taking the deposition of the Plaintiff's expert on liability. Plaintiff's counsel accepted the $200.00 settlement after two years of hotly contested litigation rather than risk exposure for attorney's fees and costs.
Abernathy v. Emerald Coast Entertainment, et. al. - Product Liability/ Bungee Ride Injury
Okaloosa County Case #2009-CA-4874
Mr. Higby defended this lawsuit against Emerald Coast Entertainment, a company which rented inflatable rides to school and church carnivals. Plaintiff was a fourteen year old teenager who was injured at the Choctaw High School Jellyfish Festival, a High School Booster function for the Choctaw High School Football Team. The plaintiff suffered a subdural hematoma which necessitated a craniotomy after engaging several times in Emerald's "Bungee Run". The plaintiff suffered no apparent trauma, but collapsed after getting off the ride. Policy limits for Emerald had already been tendered when Mr. Higby was engaged by Fireman's Fund to defend the case. The plaintiff was attempting to make the case into a bad faith extra contractual claim against FFIC. After over two years of litigation, the plaintiff and his attorneys accepted the previous offer from Emerald and FFIC, and went to trial against the manufacturer of the Bungee Run.
Andem adv. Cunningham - Medical Malpractice/Defense of
Santa Rosa County Case #07-284-CA General Practitioner/ Failure to Diagnose
Mr. Higby defended this Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice case for Dr. Andem. Dr. Andem came to Mr. Higby when the Insurance Carrier for the co-defendant, Defuniak Springs Walk-In Clinic denied coverage for Dr. Andem. The decedent underwent laparoscopic gall bladder removal and had continued to suffer post operative pain nearly three weeks after her surgery. She went to the Defuniak Springs Walk-In Clinic and sought pain medication the day before Hurricane Ivan hit the panhandle of Florida. A day after being seen in the clinic, the decedent died of an alleged retro hepatic abscess (a complication of her surgery). Dr. Andem never saw the patient but was responsible for signing off on charts for the clinic, and patients managed by the clinic's Physician Assistant. Mr. Higby filed a declaratory action against the insurance carrier for the Walk in Clinic, who then agreed to indemnify Dr. Andem and pay for his defense. The case was settled after extensive discovery, with no contribution from Dr. Andem.
Panama City Port Authority adv. Hayward Baker, Inc. - Construction/Engineering Malpractice
Bay County Case #03-3106
The Port hired Hayward Baker to rehabilitate the Port bulkhead as part of an overall Port renovation and dredging/ deepening project. Hayward Baker was using a jet grout system to strengthen the bulkhead and seawall of the Port. Unfortunately, near completion of the project, the bulkhead blew out and gave way resulting in the need for two million dollars in repairs. Hayward Baker sued the Port claiming it had performed extensive extra work under the contract. The Port counter-claimed and sued for damages it claimed were caused by Hayward Baker failing to shut down work after the blow-out became evident. The case settled after litigation with the Design Engineers and the Supervising Engineers. The Port did not pay out of pocket for any of the settlement monies, and was able to re-coup a portion of the repair costs after the litigation.
Atkins Engineering adv. Bay County - Construction/Engineering Malpractice
NW Florida Airport and Phoenix Construction
Bay County Case #2010-2839-CA
Mr. Higby served as lead local counsel on this construction/engineering malpractice case involving the design and construction of the Northwest Florida International Airport. Severe and historic rains hit during construction of the project, causing cost overruns and alleged damages to the contractor. Drainage ponds at the Airport had to be re-configured at a cost of several million dollars to the Airport. Atkins denied liability, and contended the contractor was responsible for failing to follow the plans and specifications, and taking short cuts during construction. Mr. Higby worked with Atkins' outside counsel Karl Pearson of Orlando, and they hired Navigant Consulting to render an expert opinion on construction management and issues involving earth movement. Navigant's consultant, Chad Hutchison, was a previous construction manager for twenty years at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. The case settled on the eve of Trial for a confidential amount, after Mr. Hutchison's deposition and reports were rendered in the case.
Panama City Port Authority adv. - Construction/Dredging Project at Port/
Inland Dredging, Alleged Cost Overruns by Contractor
Federal Court Case #5:04-cv-280-RH/WCS
Inland sued the Port in Federal Court claiming that Inland had incurred substantial damages and cost overruns during the course of a dredging contract for the Port's main seawall complex. Inland claimed it incurred subsurface materials which were not disclosed in pre-bid information, or otherwise discoverable. Inland claimed over two million dollars in damages and cost overruns, and sued in Federal Court. The Port claimed Inland failed to give sufficient notice under the Port-Inland contract, and that Inland had waived any claims for failure to do so. A five day Bench Trial in Federal Court resulted in a $32,000.00 award to Inland, despite the fact that Inland was seeking over two million dollars. The Port had offered this amount and much more prior to Trial. Federal Judge Robert Hinkle agreed with the Port that inland had failed to give proper notice under the contract, and entered his judgment accordingly. Inland appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which affirmed in favor of the Port Authority.
Panama City Port Authority adv. - Commercial Landlord/
Berg Steel Corp. Tenant Dispute (Long Term Lease)
Hillsborough County Case #08-014246
Mr. Higby defended the Panama City Port Authority in this lease dispute between the Port and long time Port tenant Berg Steel. Berg contended that the Port had failed to meet its obligations regarding railroad infrastructure at the Port under a one hundred year lease between Berg and the Port. A venue clause in the lease resulted in the case being filed in Tampa-Hillsborough County. Mr. Higby teamed up with Tampa trial lawyer Brad Powers, and the parties achieved a long term amendment to the Lease after extensive mediation. The resulting amendment achieved continuity and improved relations between the Port and its valuable tenant, Berg Steel.
Defense Cases for Corrections Corporation of America:
Emerald Corrections Co. v. Bay County - Municipal Contract/Challenge
and Corrections Corp. of America: to Bid Process-Request for Proposals
Bay County Case #06-440-CA
Mr. Higby represented CCA in this challenge to CCA's one hundred twenty million dollar contract to build and manage the new Bay County Jail Annex. CCA managed the Bay County Jail and Annex in a contract with the county for over twenty years. When the County decided to build a new Annex for the Jail, a Request for Proposals was issued and CCA and Emerald were the two responding vendors. CCA was awarded the eighty six million dollar contract to build the new Annex. It was also awarded a contract to manage the facility. Emerald challenged and sued the County claiming the award to CCA was the result of improper favoritism. CCA intervened in the case based on Mr. Higby's recommendation. CCA and the County prevailed in the case, and CCA was awarded over $150,000.00 in attorney's fees and costs, all of which were recovered from Emerald.
Estate of Justin Sturgis v. - Wrongful Death/Failure to
Corrections Corp. of America Diagnose-Recognize Drug Overdose
Mr. Higby represented CCA in this claim by the Estate of Justin Sturgis. Mr. Sturgis came to the Bay County Jail on Valentine's night and had been charged with DUI. Unbeknownst to the arresting officer, and to CCA, Mr. Sturgis had ingested a small baggy with over 10 pills of the drug "Ecstasy" as the officer approached his vehicle. Mr. Sturgis started to demonstrate erratic behavior after being taken into the holding area at the jail. The jail nurse called the Emergency Room at Bay Medical and was advised to follow up in two hours. Mr. Sturgis, who denied having taken any drugs, proceeded to go into malignant hypothermia and overdose. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The family brought a claim against CCA and the State Attorney's office convened a Grand Jury investigation of CCA. Mr. Higby guided the company through both proceedings. No criminal information was issued against the company, and the civil claim by the family was settled for a confidential amount before suit was filed.
Estate of Chad Littles v. - Wrongful Death/Failure to Protect Inmate
Corrections Corp. of America:
Bay County Case #03-316-CA
Mr. Higby defended CCA in this wrongful death case by the Estate of Chad Littles, an eighteen year old inmate of the Jail Annex who was beaten to death and kicked in the head by a group of inmates in the "D" Dorm at the Jail Annex. The dormitory style housing areas at the jail Annex housed up to eighty inmates who were overseen by two guards and a camera monitoring system. The inmates targeted Mr. Littles, as they believed he had "snitched" and advised officers of contraband in the dormitory. The case was settled for a confidential amount after extensive litigation, but before trial. Mr. Higby retained renowned corrections expert Gary DeLand of Utah to opine on liability in the matter. Deland's testimony was critical in obtaining a reasonable settlement in the matter.
Lawrence Johnson v. - Failure to Protect/
Corrections Corp. of America Failure to Diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal
Bay County Case #96-2979
Mr. Higby defended CCA in this personal injury case by the Guardian of Lawrence Johnson. Attorneys for Mr. Johnson originally claimed that Johnson had been severely beaten by corrections officers or other inmates. He was taken to the hospital from the jail after sustaining a head injury when he fell from his top bunk and struck his head on a metal property locker. Johnson was in a coma for several days and did not remember how he was injured. After discovery, Johnson's lawyers changed course and agreed he had not been beaten. They alleged that CCA had failed to diagnose Mr. Johnson's alcohol withdrawal, and that he should not have been housed on a top bunk. The case settled before trial for a confidential amount, but which was a fraction of the original demand in the case.
Kimberly Dallas v. Corrections - Wrongful Classification/
Corp. of America Release/Sexual Assault
Jackson County Case #05-509-CA
Mr. Higby defended CCA in this claim by a female inmate who claimed she was improperly released to a single Bay County Deputy who allegedly raped her. Plaintiff was released to a uniformed Deputy Sheriff with the Bay Count Sheriff s office, who had proper release and transfer papers for transport of the plaintiff to the Jackson County Correctional Facility. The Deputy had a transport van, but no fellow officer accompanying him and the inmate. Upon arrival at the Jackson County jail, the female inmate claimed the Deputy had raped her. It was determined that sex between the inmate and the officer had in fact occurred. CCA denied liability for the encounter and settled for a confidential but nominal amount.