(1937 - 2021)
Fred began his legal career in family law, but once a client explained to him that her husband said he would kill her divorce lawyer, he chose to switch to general civil law. The first case that brought Fred national attention was Thorshov v. L&N. In that case, Dr. Jon Thorshov, a thirty-eight-year-old physician, his wife, his four-year-old daughter, and his one-year-old son were at their home in Pensacola when a massive freight train operated by L&N Railroad derailed near their home on November 9, 1977, and released anhydrous ammonia. The family attempted to escape their home, but were overcome by the fumes. Dr. and Ms. Thorshov died and both children sustained serious physical injuries. In 1980, Fred received a jury verdict for the family in the amount of $18 million, which included the highest personal injury compensatory award in America at the time.
After the Thorshov case, Fred was in high demand as a trial lawyer, writing a book, lecturing throughout the country, representing politicians, and racking up multiple million-dollar jury verdicts. By the time of his death, Fred had received more than thirty jury verdicts in excess of $1,000,000 (six in excess of $10,000,000).
Fred's greatest notoriety came as a result of rewriting Florida's Medicaid Third-Party Recovery Act, permitting the state of Florida to sue the tobacco industry for Medicaid costs in treating smoking related illnesses. After coming up with the idea and writing the legislation, Fred approached a good friend who was the dean of the Florida Senate. The two then presented the idea to the Governor of Florida, who loved it. The dean of the Senate was able to get the law passed on the last day of session, during the last minutes of the session.
Challenges to Fred's law made it all the way to the US Supreme Court, but it was upheld. Immediately after jury selection, the tobacco industry settled with the State of Florida for a record $13 billion. Soon thereafter, Fred appeared on ABC's "20/20" talking to reporter John Stossel. While interviewing him for the piece, Fred lit up a cigarette, which ABC highlighted in the segment. Next, he appeared on two full pages of George Magazine, standing on his putting green in a tuxedo, drinking Crown Royal whiskey and smoking a cigarette. He was then highlighted in a Time Magazine article entitled: "Are Lawyers Running America?"