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BRYDON CHANGES NAME, ADDS LAWYERS San Francisco litigation boutique Brydon Law Group has changed its name to Brydon Hugo & Parker following the addition of 11 new attorneys. The new hires joined the firm throughout the summer and bring the Brydon firm’s attorney count to 15 — tripling the firm’s ranks. Seven of the attorneys, including five partners, join Brydon from San Francisco’s Burke Williams & Sorensen. The group includes new name partner Edward Hugo, and partners Donna Maul, Charles Park and Roland The, as well as associates Lisa Brill-Nadler and Tara-Jane Ingram. The firm also elevated James Parker, formerly of counsel, to name partner. “What we have here are three rather unique trial lawyers,” said founding partner John Bryon of the firm’s name partners. The addition of the new attorneys strengthens the firm’s capabilities in asbestos, environmental, products liability and insurance/bad faith. According to Brydon, the firm handles defense-side trial work almost exclusively. Also new to the firm are senior litigation counsel Paul Bessette and Robert Farrell, as well as associates Stephen Frayne, Khaled Taqi-Eddin and Michelle Clowser. The firm has relocated to 135 Main Street in order to accommodate the new attorneys. — Alexei Oreskovic STATE TO REQUIRE PROOF ON RETARDATION CLAIMS ATLANTA — Georgia was the first state to ban executing the mentally retarded, but it will remain the only state to require death penalty defendants to prove their retardation beyond a reasonable doubt. In a 4-3 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed that high standard of proof in an appeal involving Warren Lee Hill, sentenced to die for the 1990 beating death of another inmate. Writing for the majority, Justice George Carley found that “the Georgia General Assembly, the first legislative body to create such an exemption, was originally and now remains within constitutional bounds in establishing a procedure for considering alleged mental retardation that limits the exemption to those whose mental deficiencies are significant enough to be provable beyond a reasonable doubt.” Three justices, however, disagreed, warning that despite last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision banning execution of the mentally retarded, the majority’s decision to require the high standard of proof is likely to result in the execution of mentally retarded defendants in Georgia. Hill’s lawyer, Thomas Dunn of the Georgia Resource Center, said he was disappointed by the decision. The habeas judge found Hill mentally retarded, Dunn said, but not to the high degree of proof Georgia requires. By all rights, he added, Hill should not be executed, but Monday’s decision holds otherwise. — Fulton County Daily Report FLORIDA CHANGES RULES FOR ATTORNEYS FEES MIAMI — In a victory for business groups, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that plaintiffs attorneys cannot receive an enhanced contingency fee for winning a long-shot case if the losing side must pay the fee because it refused to settle the case. Thursday’s 5-1 ruling could have a chilling effect on some lawsuits filed on a contingency-fee basis, said Phil Burlington, who wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiff for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. Roy Young, who wrote an amicus brief for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes the ruling will chill new suits in Florida. “For the business community I represent, if it had gone the other way, we were worried it might be the beginning of an avalanche of these types of things,” he said. The high court’s ruling in Sarkis v. Allstate Insurance Co. arises from a suit filed by Sally Sarkis against her auto insurer in Brevard County Circuit Court. Sarkis was seeking uninsured motorist benefits related to a 1996 car accident. Given her low odds of winning, Sarkis’ attorney, Robert Moletteire, figured that he was entitled to a fee multiplier if he won the case at trial. Florida Bar rules and state law allow trial judges to apply a multiplier when awarding fees to lawyers who take unusually difficult cases on a contingency fee basis. The purpose is to encourage lawyers to represent clients with challenging cases who can’t afford to pay the lawyers themselves. — Miami Daily Business Review

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