On The Pulse… Profile of Our Jacksonville Office

By Martin H. Sitler, Esq.*

I often boast to anyone who will listen that the Jacksonville, Florida office has the most beautiful view of any of our offices. Our fourteenth floor space is nestled in the center of downtown Jacksonville and overlooks the scenic St. Johns River. The sight from my window is absolutely gorgeous.

My spectacular view is complemented by the city where we are venued. Jacksonville, the largest city in area in the continental United States, is a rapidly growing metropolitan city. Jacksonville’s riverine location facilitates two U.S. Navy bases and the Port of Jacksonville, Florida’s third largest seaport, with a transportation network Unloading a container from a ship at JaxPort.embracing port and air cargo facilities, and rail and trucking routes. A city that is a popular location for corporate expansions and relocations, it is also attractive to many because of its reasonable cost of living, diverse cultural and recreational opportunities, abundant natural resources and, of course, the awesome weather. With a growing population and strong economy, Jacksonville continues to distinguish itself as one of the nation’s most dynamic and progressive cities.

However, it is not just the magnificent view and the vibrant setting that makes our office special; rather, like all of our offices, it is the people. We have a growing mix of extremely talented casualty and professional liability attorneys, supported by a cast of highly professional and skilled support staff. I will begin by introducing our newest attorneys.

In June 2015, the firm enhanced its Casualty Department with the additions of shareholder Dennis Dore, special counsel Jessica Lanifero and associate Chris Walsh in Jacksonville. Dennis, board-certified in Civil Trial Law by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization since 1988, focuses his practice on defending product liability, first-party and third-party property insurance, complex coverage claims and bad faith matters. Having tried more than 150 jury trials in the state, he is well known and respected in the Florida legal community. Jessica Lanifero and Chris Walsh work closely with Dennis. Jessica, who is active in many professional associations, including the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, focuses her practice on insurance defense in the areas of product liability, extra-contractual, premises liability, construction litigation, and first-party and third-party property insurance matters. Chris focuses his practice on a variety of casualty matters and has a unique background in which he practiced as a foreclosure litigation attorney throughout Florida.

The office gained another impact attorney in 2015 with Lauren Burnette. Lauren actually joined Marshall Dennehey in 2008 in our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania office. But with family ties in Jacksonville, she made the move to warmer weather. Lauren is a shareholder in the Professional Liability Department’s Consumer Financial Services Litigation & Compliance Practice Group where she represents clients across a broad spectrum of the consumer financial services industry. She provides a range of compliance management services to clients across the country, including preparation and periodic review and revision of compliance management systems, risk assessment and remediation, third-party monitoring and auditing, training assistance, and litigation management and oversight. Lauren brings a unique practice to Florida that is quickly expanding.

In 2012, Jim Hanratty, a shareholder in our Casualty Department, joined the Jacksonville office. He began his practice with Marshall Dennehey in 2006 in Ohio, then transferred to Florida in 2012. Since coming to Florida, Jim has assumed the statewide supervision of matters for key clients focusing on retail and commercial premises liability cases. He continues to handle significant injury cases involving automobile and general liability claims with an emphasis on the defense of brain injury claims. One of the most active litigators in our office, Jim is highly experienced and has tried over 100 civil cases to verdict.

Although Amanda Ingersoll began her law practice with our office in 2014, her roots with the firm go back to 2012 when she worked in our office as a law clerk. It was then that we discovered her talents and skills, which have made her a valuable member of the Casualty Department. Amanda’s primary areas of practice include general, automobile, premises, and trucking and transportation liability.

About a year before Amanda’s arrival, we acquired the talents of James (Jamie) Gonzalez. Jamie is a member of the Professional Liability Department, where he regularly defends architectural, engineering and construction firms, as well as their professional employees, in professional negligence and contractual claims. Jamie also represents trucking and transportation clients in maritime and inland marine litigation. These cases, brought against insurance carriers and their insureds, involve cargo subrogation, hull recovery, and warehouse property damage subrogation and recovery. He recently expanded his practice in the area of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) litigation, working closely with Lauren Burnette. In addition to his legal practice, Jamie is a passionate supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and serves as its Jacksonville Affiliate Chair for North Florida.

The Jacksonville office was founded 12 years ago, and we are proud that three of the office’s founding members remain with the firm. As background, on July 1, 2004, Marshall Dennehey acquired the long-standing and reputable Jacksonville defense litigation firm of Obringer, DeCandio & Oosting. It was an ideal merger. The Obringer DeCandio firm brought an established presence to Marshall Dennehey in the Jacksonville area, which has proven critical to the firm’s growing market share in the northeastern region of Florida. Three of the five shareholders of the Obringer DeCandio firm remain a core presence in the Jacksonville office—Michael Obringer, Michael DeCandio and Tom Roberts.

Michael Obringer, a member of the Casualty Department, has been practicing law for over 35 years, and over the last 20 years, he has devoted his practice to insurance defense litigation. Michael focuses his time in two main practice areas; he tries complex product liability cases where there is catastrophic damage and/or serious injury or death, and he defends doctors, dentists, hospitals and their employees in malpractice suits. To date, Michael has tried over 300 cases to verdict and continues to thrive with an active litigation practice.

Michael DeCandio, a certified court mediator and former Jacksonville assistant state attorney, has also been practicing law in the Jacksonville area for over 35 years. He focuses on complex construction and design professional litigation, and he leads the Jacksonville construction defect litigation practice. He and Tom Roberts, who is also highly experienced in this area, have a significant market presence in handling such matters not only in the northeastern region of Florida, but throughout the entire state of Florida. Additionally, Tom’s background and education as a civil engineer greatly benefits clients facing civil design lawsuits, including flooding and uneconomic design claims.

Although not a founding member, casualty attorney Pamela Lynde joined the Jacksonville office later in 2004. Pam has devoted her 25-year law career to litigation. She concentrates her practice in the areas of automobile, premises and product liability, which includes defending trucking companies and individuals in motor vehicle negligence actions, as well as supermarkets, grocery stores and other retailers in premises liability actions.

As for me, I joined Marshall Dennehey in 2004 after my retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps. I began my career with the firm as a member of the Casualty Department in the Akron, Ohio office, where I became involved in all types of civil litigation. In January 2010, the Executive Committee offered me the opportunity to serve as the managing attorney for the Jacksonville office. After much deliberation, support from my family and the minor detail of passing the Florida bar exam, in July 2010, we relocated to Jacksonville, and I had the privilege of becoming part of this office. In Florida, my practice focuses on admiralty liability and maritime litigation, cargo and transportation litigation, premises and automobile liability, toxic tort litigation, and construction and design professional negligence. In addition, I have oversight of the day-to-day office operations, as well as a supervisory role over the casualty practice group for Florida.

Complementing our 12 talented attorneys are three highly qualified paralegals—Meredith Elmgren, Gloria Alford and Landor R. (Lenny) Angulo. Meredith began her tenure with Marshall Dennehey as a secretary. Her interests in paralegal duties were quickly recognized, and she soon became qualified to serve in such a capacity. Gloria joined us in 2015. Meredith and Gloria support the entire office in paralegal matters and from time to time are called upon to assist our other Florida offices.

Lenny, who was a paralegal with the Obringer DeCandio firm, joined Marshall Dennehey in 2004 with the merger. As a result of his background, both academically and professionally, Lenny brings a unique dimension to the defense of construction and design claims that enhances our in-house service to clients and carriers. With a Bachelors Degree in Construction Management, Lenny has special expertise in analyzing plans and specifications, scheduling and jurisdictional requirements in multiple disciplines. His presence and capabilities allow us to provide expert quality analysis and focus on a given file prior to retention of more expensive outside experts. While Lenny’s office is in Jacksonville, he serves as a valuable resource to the entire firm.

The attorneys and paralegals in the Jacksonville office are supported by an incredible and dedicated staff, which is managed by Michelle (Missy) Winstead. Missy is a long-time resident of Jacksonville and active in the local administrative law community. Her skills and experiences make her an invaluable asset to our team.

Jacksonville’s stature in the national and international marketplace promises to be an exciting and expanding market for Marshall Dennehey. The Jacksonville office practices aggressive, well prepared, defense litigation by lawyers who are accessible, practical and highly experienced. Like all of the firm’s regional offices, we gain from the support and synergism of a large and diverse defense litigation firm, but we particularly benefit from the culture and best practices espoused by Marshall Dennehey. As the economic outlook for northeastern Florida shows promise of strength and growth, so, too, does the Jacksonville office.

I encourage you to visit marshalldennehey.com for more information about the Jacksonville office and in-depth descriptions of each attorney’s background and experiences. I welcome you to call me or any of the attorneys in this office if you have questions or need assistance. Our office is located at 200 West Forsyth Street, Suite 1400, Jacksonville, FL 32202. My direct telephone number is 904.358.4234 and my email is mhsitler@mdwcg.com. And, if nothing else, stop by and enjoy the view – it truly is spectacular!

*Marty works in our Jacksonville, Florida office and can be reached at 904.358.4234 or mhsitler@mdwcg.com.


Defense Digest, Vol 22, No. 1, March 2016

Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1. © 2016 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints, contact tamontemuro@mdwcg.com.