HLF Letter

Haggard Law Firm > HLF Letter (Page 17)

Attorney Todd Michaels Interviewed About His Published OP-ED “My Son’s Skin”


Haggard Law Firm Attorney Todd Michaels was recently a guest on WEAA-FM 88.9 in Baltimore. Michaels was brought on the “Voice of the Community” to discuss his op-ed My Son’s Skin which was published in the Miami Herald.  In the article Michaels discusses his concern as the father of  a black child of what his child will face as he ages. The article was written following the shooting  death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in November 2014.


To listen to Michaels interview click here. The interview begins at 29:07.

Here is the original article published in the Miami Herald in December 2015.

My Son’s Skin

Op-ed by Todd Michaels

I’ve spent 38 years as a white boy and man in America. Actually, a Jewish man, but I’m not usually identified as a Jew, live in a place full of Jews, and I have never faced a minute of anti-Semitism. I can tell you that being a white man in America is good. It’s great. It’s all that it’s cracked up to be. The opportunity is limitless. The fear is minimal.

I’ve never spent one day as a Black boy or man.

I’ve spent 5 years and 4 months as the father of a Black boy. An amazing boy. A smart, funny, talented, cute, sweet boy who has significant opportunity and privilege and doesn’t know any bounds on what he can achieve. A boy that I’ve been able to protect thus far from the realities that a child like Tamir Rice has had to face. But I know I can’t protect him forever, and I know that at some point, and maybe at many points, he will face a different experience as a boy or man in America.

And I’ve spent a lot of those five years worrying. I never think about race. It’s never a conscious thought that the world sees me as white and my son as Black, or mixed, or whatever. I’m just his dad, and he’s just my son. But I think about it when things like Tamir Rice happen. And it makes me worry.

It makes me worry because I know that as Ashton grows, when he walks down the street, people won’t say, “There goes Todd Michaels’s son.” A lot of people will just see a Black guy walking down the street, with all that goes along with that. It’s only been five years and four months, and I’m exhausted of worrying. I can’t imagine the anger I would feel if I had to face that reality everyday.

So yes, all lives matter, but we don’t have to say that, because no one has ever questioned that white lives matter. But Black lives matter too. They matter equally. And until this country gets that in word and deed, America can never be what it claims to be.


Haggard Law Firm Attorneys Named 2017 “Best Lawyers”


The attorneys of The Haggard Law Firm have been selected by their peers to be included on the 2017 Best Lawyers in America  list

William ‘Andy’ Haggard, Michael Haggard, Douglas McCarron, Christopher Marlowe, Todd Michaels, Jason Brenner and Pedro Echarte were selected for their work in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category.

Haggard Law’s James Blecke was selected for his exceptional appellant work.

Best Lawyers is the oldest and most highly-respected peer review guide to the legal profession worldwide. The methodology behind the per review process is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area

Congratulations to the team!


7 Shot in Jacksonville Apartment Complex With History of Murder/Violent Crime and Poor Security

Photo of Staleys w Christopher

The article below from The Florida Times Union details the latest on a mass shooting at the Eureka Garden Apartment Complex in Jacksonville. The media reports that 7 people were shot by at least three gunmen.

Shots fired and people getting shot at the Eureka Garden Apartments is on ongoing problem. The complex has had multiple homicides and violent crimes over the past few years, including the murder of 22-year-old Christopher Cornelio (pictured above with his parents). Haggard Law Firm attorneys Douglas McCarron and Jason Brenner currently represent  Cornelio’s family, including his young son, in a civil suit against the property’s owners. Cornelio was shot and killed at Eureka Garden in March of 2014. The ownership and management of the complex refuse to take the necessary steps to make the property even remotely safe.


Their indifference was also seen in a massive Code Enforcement sweep last October. The living conditions at the complex were deplorable. Sadly, this incident appears to be a result of wealthy corporation placing profits over the safety its residents.




From Jacksonville Times Union Article: 7 wounded in Eureka Garden attack; about 50 rounds fired, police say

….People were sitting or standing around a stairway to Unit 11 at Eureka Garden late Sunday when the gunfire began.

Gunmen opened up at 11:45 p.m., hitting seven people outside a building at the troubled Westside apartment complex as other bullets shattered and pierced the windows of a parked sport-utility vehicle nearby, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Police said three gunmen walked up between the two apartment units across Altoona Court, just a few dozen feet off Plymouth Street at the west end of the subsidized apartment complex. They aimed at eight or 10 people “just hanging out” in front of Unit 11, leaving two in life-threatening condition, police said.

“They fired numerous rounds. It appears to be rifle rounds and from handguns, into the crowd,” said Sgt. Shawn Coursey, part of the Sheriff’s Violent Crime Impact team. “There was an infant in the crowd. Thankfully, the infant was not struck.”

The gunmen fired more than 50 rounds at the people before fleeing. Victims were taken to UF Health Jacksonville and Orange Park Medical Center, police said.


…to read entire article from Jacksonville Times Union,  click here


Haggard Law Michaels To Speak During Security Professionals’ International Conference


The Haggard Law Firm’s Todd Michaels have been invited to speak at the 62nd Annual ASIS International Conference in Orlando next month.  ASIS International is a global community of security practitioners, each of whom has a role in the protection of assets – people, property, and/or information. The upcoming conference is the organization’s largest event of the year.

Michaels will present a seminar titled How to Avoid a Million Dollar Verdict Against Your Business and another called Duty and Consequence.

ASIS membeexhibit_main_toprs  represent virtually every industry in the public and private sectors, and organizations of all sizes. From entry-level managers to CSOs to CEOs, from security veterans to consultants and those transitioning from law enforcement or the military, the ASIS community is global and diverse. More than 20,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the conference.


The Haggard Law Firm has litigated more than 155 negligent security cases since 2007, delivering more than $345 million in verdicts and settlements in those cases.

Haggard Law’s Todd Michaels to Speak at 2016 Al J. Cone Trial Advocacy Institute


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The Haggard Law Firm’s Todd Michaels is one of the featured speakers at today’s 2016 Al J. Cone Advocacy Institute being held through Saturday in Orlando. The Institute is three days of engaging presentations and interactive workshops designed specifically for new personal injury attorneys to advance their trial skills.

Michaels will be part of several workshop panels discussing different elements of the trial process.  Attendees go through the entire trial process from the defense and plaintiff perspective using a case fact pattern.




The event is hosted by the Florida Justice Association is dedicated to strengthening and upholding Florida’s civil justice system and protecting the rights of Florida’s citizens and consumers. FJA works in the legislative, political and public arenas to ensure that Floridians know and understand the importance of their rights to justice and to make certain that these rights, which are at the very core of what it means to be American, are safeguarded and protected.



Jumpstart Success With These Case Building Efforts

By: Christopher Marlowe, The Haggard Law Firm

Preparing to exceed the burden of proof and maximizing damages begins at client signup. The defense counsel has a head start. From the moment of loss, the defendant has secured or destroyed evidence, interviewed witnesses, researched the client, developed theories of defense, comparative fault, and otherwise played five or six key chess moves before plaintiff counsel even knew they were in the game.

Assuming the defendant is tireless and meticulous in its work is the only safe and essential assumption plaintiff counsel should make when preparing a case. Regardless of the cause of action, assume that the plaintiff and every friendly known witness has a history that, if known, will adversely affect the ultimate outcome. Until proven otherwise through the use of public records and interviews, all of which should occur pre-suit outside of formal discovery, remain vigilant in learning everything to know about the client and witnesses that may be called on throughout the litigation. Background checks, civil, criminal and family court files all will either confirm a cautiously optimistic impression of the plaintiff, or prepare to deal with the collateral—usually irrelevant, but always distracting—attacks upon the person of your client when the time comes. The same exercise is performed upon all anticipated defendants.

This pregame ritual requires an attorney/client relationship that exceeds the formality of the client contract. As advocates, attorneys should remain focused on the end game, but along the way, the attorney-client relationship must be a candidly safe space. Building the trust necessary to avoid surprises down the line involves introducing other staff upon initiation of the attorney-client relationship. My assistant regularly phones witnesses and clients, even when no information is needed and when no deadlines are looming. This process signals to the client the reality that we are working hard for them, and increases the probability that we will learn in advance of any issues that may prove troublesome down the road.

Once in suit, the rules of discovery and formal deadlines begin to take hold of an attorney’s case building efforts, which makes the “informal” pre-suit information gathering process all the more important. As such, guard against rushing into suit. The time to mercilessly press for a special set trial begins after committing to the case armed with all reasonably available information and background materials on everyone involved.

Attorneys know in advance those materials that will be asked of the clients in standard discovery requests, but shouldn’t attorneys have learned as much as possible about the defendant and possible witnesses before filing suit? Filing suit is the moment in which we regain the tactical edge, because together with the complaint, targeted discovery requests based on information and materials we learned pre-suit ensure the defendant is responding to us rather than the other way around. And when the inevitable discovery is propounded upon the client, staff and attorney time is not wasted gathering materials and information that should have been in their possession from the beginning.

Whether an automobile accident, premises liability, medical negligence or product liability case, pre-suit research should inform attorneys of obstacles to success, and tools available to address those challenges as they arise. The internet is a tremendous resource, which should be used to identify the original source materials available for more detailed exploration. For example, in a premises liability case at a shopping mall, an attorney may not have pre-suit access to the leases between the various merchants and the management company or landowner. But if applicable to the facts of the case, the county record department will have any relevant easements pertaining to the property on file, often with supporting materials that one would not expect to find in a clerk’s office, including correspondence between landlords and tenants. In a dram shop case, the state licensing board for alcohol permits will have submissions from the applicant in order to have obtained the license to serve alcohol. The documents may include extensive correspondence by the soon-to-be defendant regarding the scale and scope of the intended use of that license, prior negative incidents, and attorneys may be surprised by the detailed photographs or schematic drawings of the establishment.

This pre-suit effort likely will not deliver a case on a silver platter. It may not ultimately provide the silver bullet at the first key deposition, where information obtained outside of discovery truly has the ability to surprise opposing counsel. But those attorneys who have dug as deeply as possible into all foreseeable issues and contingencies pre-suit will more efficiently prosecute the case and be ready to confidently select a jury the first time the case is up at calendar call. And, if an attorney by chance does find that silver bullet before the case is even filed, all the better.

By Christopher Marlowe, Partner, The Haggard Law Firm (pictured below)

This article was firs published in the Daily Business Review:

Michael Haggard Named to 2016 Florida Legal Elite List

legal elite 2016

Managing Partner Michael Haggard has been named to the 2016 Florida Trend  Magazine Legal Elite list. Attorneys selected to the list are chosen for recognition by their peers.

Florida Trend invited all in-state members of the Florida Bar to participate. Lawyers were asked to name attorneys whom they hold in the highest regard or would recommend to others.

Haggard is also a member of the Legal Elite Hall of Fame which is comprised of a distinguished group of attorneys who have consistently earned high rankings from their peers in the annual Legal Elite voting.

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Click here to read more about Michael Haggard

Close a Dangerous Legal Loophole, Support the Sex Offender Rental Notification Act



Under Florida law, owners of rental apartments and homes are NOT required to warn you or your family that an employee at the property is a pedophile or sex offender. Children in Florida have been raped by sex offenders who were literally provided the keys to rental units, where the owner knew that the employee was a convicted sex offender.  You and your family have the right to make an informed choice of whether to live in housing that employs convicted sex offenders.


This dangerous legal loophole has The Haggard Law Firm taking action. Attorney Christopher Marlowe has authored a new law, The Sex Offender Rental Notification Act,  to help close the loophole. It reads:


‘WHEREAS, repeat sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety. Sexual offenders are extremely likely to use physical violence and to repeat their offenses, and most sexual offenders commit many offenses, have many more victims than are ever reported, and are prosecuted for only a fraction of their crimes. This makes the cost of sexual offender victimization to society at large, while incalculable, clearly exorbitant. “ (Click Here to read entire proposed law)


The SafeRenting.Org campaign is focused introducing the problem and proposed resolution to the forefront so concerned citizens can unite and motivate State Leaders to take action. The campaign has already drawn extensive media attention.

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If you would like to help, call your local legislators and sign an online petition (Click Here)


Haggard Law $1 Million Settlement in Negligent Security Case Featured in Daily Business Review



Today’s copy of Daily Business Review has a feature on a recent $1 million settlement in a negligent security case lead by our Todd Michaels.
DBR pilotos


Background on the case:

Opa Locka, Florida – The owners of the Top Value Supermarket in Opa Locka have agreed to a payout of $1 million to the Estate of Miguel Pilotos, who was gunned down on the property during a robbery Aug. 21, 2013.

The 71-year-old man was simply picking up groceries when he was shot at the supermarket located on Northwest 137th street and northwest 27th avenue. The crime was caught on camera. The gunman rode up to the victim’s car on a bicycle and pulled out his weapon and shot the husband and father in the neck. Pilotos, who had under $20 on him when he was killed, had been with his wife Aleida for 25 years. He emigrated from Cuba 19 years ago.

The lawyer for the Pilotos family, Todd Michaels of The Haggard Law Firm, says the crime was predictable and preventable. “At the time of his murder, Miguel Pilotos was the third Top Value customer robbed and shot and the second one killed in that parking lot, in six months” says Michaels. He adds “despite the previous crimes, and the widespread knowledge the business was located in a high-crime area, the supermarket did not alter security in the parking lot in any way.”

Common Conditions that Give Rise to a Premises Liability Case

Common Conditions that Give Rise to a Premises Liability Case

By Douglas McCarron, The Haggard Law Firm

In my experience, the most common condition in any premises liability case is the lack of guardianship of the property.  In most instances, the property owner and/or manager fails to put in place policies and procedures that ensure that the premises is kept in a reasonably safe condition.  For example, in many negligent security cases it becomes obvious that the owner and management fail to do anything that assesses violent crime occurring at the property.  Without knowing what type of crime is happening, it is nearly impossible to know what type of security measures are needed.  How can the owner make decisions about access control, manned security, and surveillance cameras, if they have failed to gather the crime statistics for the property and the surrounding area?  The answer is simple, they do not know and consequently violent crime continues to victimize the property’s guests and invitees.  In slip and fall cases, many properties fail to ensure that their employees follow the internal policies and procedures to maintain the property in a safe manner.  This leads to dangerous conditions being left on the property for an unacceptable amount of time. 

If property owners simply prepare policies and procedures for their employees to follow and have appropriate supervision to ensure that the policies and procedures are being followed, then the most dangerous conditions would cease to exist.  Obviously, financial considerations come into play for the property owners.  In developing a premises liability case, it is important to discover exactly what property owners are failing to do and why they are failing to do it.  Jurors do not appreciate property owners turning a blind eye and pleading ignorance.  Jurors also do not accept that the owners do not want to put the necessary resources (money) into the property to make it safe.


Just today, my partner Todd Michaels, secured a $2.65 million dollar verdict in a negligent security case in Clay County, Florida.  The facts of the case demonstrated that the property knew that there was a upswing in crime at the property.  Instead of being proactive, the property owner allowed the access control gates to remain broken for over 6 months.  The property owner’s failure caused the death of our client during a burglary attempt to his sister’s home.    This is a prime example of how juries will find for a victim in light of a property owner refusing to make their property safe.

As discussed, when preparing a premises liability case, it is extremely important to go through what policies and procedures a property owner has put into place and whether they are being followed.   Just as important is why a property owner is failing to take the reasonable steps to make sure that the property is safe.   Get all written policies and procedures as soon as possible – send written discovery requesting this information with the filing of the Complaint.  Follow this with detailed depositions of management and the property employees.  Armed with this information, it will become easy to show that the property owner and/or management dug their head in the sand and were at fault for your client’s injury or death.

To learn more about the Haggard Law Firm