With a small-town, customer-service approach and the resources of one of the most influential law firms in the country, Morgan & Morgan Melbourne is making a difference in the community.
For Derrick Connell and the four other attorneys at Morgan & Morgan Melbourne, it is about being there for people when they need them. Connell opened the office as the lone attorney in 2015 after John Morgan approached him looking for a presence on the Space Coast. The goal: cater to the residents of the community and offer one-on-one interaction with clients at a convenient location they feel comfortable walking into.
“We provide the individualized service and personal touch of a small firm while also having the force of an 800 pound gorilla in the room,” said Connell, managing partner. “Most importantly, we live, work and play in the community where we’re servicing our clients, so we’re vested in helping our neighbors get the best possible service.”
Today, the Morgan & Morgan Melbourne office has a wide breadth, serving Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. Connell, who specializes in personal injury cases, shares litigation responsibilities with four other attorneys, who each has a different practice area. They include Edward Combs (workers’ compensation), Michael Peacock (personal injury), Robert Hoag (first-party insurance litigation and hurricane claims), and Grant Gillenwater (premises liability). The office also has a 24-person support staff.
“We pride ourselves in going to the courthouse and trying cases in all areas,” asserted Edward Combs, who has personally tried nine workers’ compensation cases in 2018.
“We don’t just settle cases for the last best offer. Here at Morgan & Morgan we aren’t afraid to go up against the big corporations. We fight back against bullies every day. Insurance companies know we don’t back down. We have a strong reputation for our trial skills.” states Connell, who just obtained a $1.6 million verdict along with attorney Grant Gillenwater in August.
And, he added, each of the attorneys at the Morgan & Morgan Melbourne office takes great pride in understanding every nuance of his practice area.
According to Morgan & Morgan Melbourne attorney Edward Combs, the most important aspect of any workers’ compensation claim is communication. “Workers’ compensation law is riddled with strict time constraints and requires documentation that must be followed in order to initiate as well as preserve a claim,” he said. “Explaining this complex system to a client can leave them feeling both overwhelmed as well as fearful. Our staff makes great efforts to ease the anxiety of our clients and let them know we stand with them every step of the way.”
Michael Peacock, who specializes in personal injury law, stresses that although it sounds obvious, the most important thing clients need to do if they are injured due to negligence is contact him and their insurance company immediately. “With new laws relating to receiving Personal Injury Protection benefits, all of the nuances of getting vehicles repaired and making sure insurance companies don’t take advantage of them, if they contact me immediately, I can guide them through all of that. This ensures they get help receiving all of the benefits they’re entitled to as quickly as possible.”
Insurance Litigation and Hurricane Claims
When it comes to insurance litigation, attorney Robert Hoag states it plainly. “If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly by your insurance company, you are!” he exclaimed. “Often, I see people who try to rationalize their insurance carrier’s refusal to pay for their loss. But if you need a new roof, you need a new roof. Accepting a payment to repair a few shingles, then paying the difference between this amount and what it will cost to re-shingle your entire roof is absolutely unacceptable. Rest assured the insurance companies don’t appreciate this sacrifice. Following Hurricane Irma, many insurance companies are systematically refusing to pay for new roofs. If your insurance carrier is refusing to pay what it will cost to adequately repair your home after a hurricane or any event, then it’s time to contact an attorney.”
Attorney Grant Gillenwater tells his clients not to be overwhelmed after an accident or injury. “After you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you’re going to feel a whole range of emotions, from anger to helplessness. Let us deal with the insurance company and adjusters while you focus on the most important thing … getting better. My mission, and that of the team, is to ensure you get the justice you’re entitled to. As a lawyer who dedicates his practice solely to premises liability, I have the upper hand on defense lawyers who are often spread thin and don’t have the ability to dig into cases like I do.”
A Sense of Purpose
The attorneys and staff at Morgan & Morgan Melbourne all believe strongly in what they are doing, which is keeping people safe. Connell explains it is not about playing the role of punisher, but of protector.
“Every time someone is negligent, we start to change the way companies handle themselves moving forward, creating safer, healthier environments for people,” he said. “This leads to better safety regulations and guidelines, as well as better insurance coverages. Everyone wins when this happens.”
And most importantly, the community wins. Connell and his partners share a great pride for the region in which they live. On a professional level, they represent the community, but they and their families are also a part of the community. Sitting on several committees including for the March of Dimes, Little League, Rotary Club, Boy Scouts and the Brevard County Bar Association, as well as being active in various local charities and fundraising events, they are committed to community.
“At the end of the day, we are here for people when they get injured and suffer harm due to the negligence of others,” said Connell.
“We want people to understand we’re their local law firm with feet on the ground and a stake in this community, and we also have a huge firm standing firmly behind us,” says Robert Hoag, who grew up in Brevard County and returned to practice here after lawschool.
30 Years For the People
Morgan & Morgan is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. John Morgan founded the company in 1988, and the firm’s first office was made up of three attorneys, two paralegals and a receptionist. By 1992, the firm expanded to include eight lawyers, 10 paralegals and a sizeable support staff as it began to focus its practice on medical malpractice. In 1995, the firm grew to include 25 lawyers and opened a second office in Tampa. By 1999, more than 40 attorneys and 40 paralegals were employed by the firm, which began to specialize in nationwide mass tort litigation.
Since then, the firm has grown to include nearly 420 attorneys, 305 paralegals and a support staff of approximately 2,000 people in offices around the country. The firm recovers close to $1 billion a year for its clients.