Perry Nichols Award
    The FJA’s most prestigious awards were given out at the Founders Luncheon October 28th in Miami. Attorneys from all over Florida, award winners’ friends, families and colleagues were present at the luncheon. Mike Papantonio was given the highest honor the FJA bestows–the Perry Nichols Award–paying tribute to Perry Nichols, a founder and the first President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. The award recognizes individuals who fight valiantly and with distinction for justice throughout their lives.

Those who know Mike or “Pap”–say he exemplifies the same values of justice and dedication as Perry Nichols. Like Nichols, Mike is an innovative lawyer, a risk taker, and a leader. He is recognized across the nation as a lawyer who knows how to win even the most difficult and complex cases against the best and brightest members of the defense bar.

Al J. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award
  The FJA was pleased to present the Al J. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award to the Honorable Gary M. Farmer Sr., a former judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, who left an indelible mark on Florida law.  Some have compared him to Al J. Cone, a much-admired founder of the Florida Justice Association and the first President, who gave so generously to others and to his profession. Judge Farmer is one of the great legal minds and writers of this generation and is known for his succinct writing style and working song lyrics and movie lines seamlessly into his opinions. Judge Farmer gave consumers a fighting chance to hold companies accountable for defective products and made it harder for insurance companies to unreasonably deny claims and wrongdoers to shirk responsibilities.

B.J. Masterson Award for Professionalism
  S. Sammy Cacciatore, Jr., among family and law partners, received the B.J. Masterson Award for Professionalism–an award which honors Masterson, who was a former FJA President and in his lifetime of practicing law epitomized ethical professionalism and was a role model  to which all lawyers should aspire. It is a 1973 landmark case of Jones v. Hoffman that Sammy considers one of his greatest and most far-reaching contributions to jurisprudence. Sammy convinced the Florida Supreme Court of the unfairness of the doctrine of the day–contributory negligence–which barred recovery by a victim who, in the slightest way, contributed to the accident. Sammy’s pioneering efforts on the case established comparative negligence as the standard by which injured individuals today are compensated in Florida and across the country.  Sammy fended off more than 400 large corporate institutions and helped rewrite legal history.

FJA’s Pro Bono Award
  When Governor Charlie Crist needed someone to stand up to the hundreds of lawyers hired by BP following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, he appoint C. Steven Yerrid as Special Counsel. Steve spent nearly 1,000 hours preparing, strategizing, and documenting Florida’s claims against BP and its accomplices. At the Founders Luncheon, Steve received the FJA’s Pro Bono Award, which only bestowed when a person’s actions truly merit special recognition. In recognition of his tireless and generous efforts to Governor Crist and the people of Florida in the wake of the historical environmental catastrophe, the FJA was pleased to present this award to Steve Yerrid.

Jon E. Krupnick Award
  Eric Harald Faddis was presented with the Jon E. Krupnick Award for his relentless perseverance and tireless fight for justice on behalf of his clients in the Bradley V. Sebelius case–a watershed case that pitted Eric’s clients, 20 children whose father, a Medicare patient, whose Dad died in a Gainesville nursing home, against the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Eric believes "Sometimes, we all have to take a stand for a principle we really believe in…every lawyer, convicted of a righteous belief, should engage such conviction, especially where his efforts may not only benefit his client, but make the difference in the lives of so many others.

Victor Tipton Award
  The Victor Tipton Award, named for the founder and first editor of the Journal, recognizes superior achievement in legal writing. The 2011 Award was presented to Bryan Gowdy, who–because of his vision, hard work and zealous advocacy on Graham v Floridadeserves not only this honor, but also our sincere gratitude and our congratulations! His client, twenty-three-year-old Terrance Graham was serving life without the possibility of parole for armed burglary and a subsequent probation violation, both committed while he was a minor. Brian took the case pro bono on appeal and then—not being one to back down easily—battled the state all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

His case was supported by 14 amicus briefs including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and many other scientists and mental health professionals In presenting his case before the Supreme Court, Bryan argued that minors must be treated differently from adults at sentencing. The Court agreed, ruling that life without parole for a juvenile offender convicted of a crime not involving murder violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients.