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Most students view the summer as a time to relax. But Martin Levin, a litigator turned Harvard Divinity School student, saw it as an opportunity to chalk up a $3.6 million win against Gateway Inc. The unexpected return to the courtroom for the former president of Pensacola, Fla.’s Levin Papantonio began when he came back to Florida with his family for summer break. He decided to take the case of his friend, Cliff Mowe, whose business, Mo’ Money Associates Inc., was suffering because of a technological mishap. Gateway Computers listed one of its customer-service numbers as (800) 874-7681 — Mo’ Money’s telephone number — instead of Gateway’s actual number, (888) 874-7681. This mistake was detrimental to Mo’ Money, a manufacturer of promotional items for companies. Levin asserted that Mo’ Money was making less money because its customers could never contact the store. He asked the jury for $8.7 million. This figure was based on past and future losses. COMPETITION CITED Barry Richards of Greenberg Traurig’s Tallahassee, Fla., office, the lawyer for Gateway, asserted that Mo’ Money lost money because of increasing competition. “Gateway admitted they made a mistake, and they attempted to fix the problem,” he said. “Unfortunately, because of some technical problems, they had a difficult time in tracking down the source of the error.” As a result, Mo’ Money continued to receive misdirected phone calls almost 2 1/2 years after the problem began. $3.7M AWARD In the end, the jury found in favor of Mo’ Money and awarded it $3.7 million. While this was substantially lower than the amount Levin sought, he said he was pleased. “Mo’ Money earned $386,000 before the problems with Gateway began,” Levin said. “To get to $8.7 million, the jury would have had to find that Mo’ Money would have earned $900,000 had Gateway’s mistake not occurred,” Levin said. Mo’ Money Associates Inc. v. Gateway Inc., No. 3:01cv 110/RV/MD (N.D. Fla.). Richards said he is unsure whether his client will appeal the decision. Though Levin is pleased with his return victory, the decision to put on his litigator’s suit once again did not come easily. Beginning in 1996, Levin, 37, became disenchanted with the adversarial process. “I started having difficulty drawing the line between my obligation to zealously represent my clients, and my obligation to honor my oath as an officer of the court,” he recalled. After putting in 15-hour days at Levin Papantonio he had had enough. He wanted to stop practicing law, but he was not in a financial position to walk away. But in 1999, Levin could finally afford to make a career change, following his participation in the legal settlement against the tobacco companies. State of Florida v. American Tobacco Co., No. CL-95-1466-AH (Palm Beach County, Fla., Cir. Ct.). Levin said that although he is not a religious man, he always had an interest in religion. His wife, Terry, suggested that he take courses in religion, which immediately piqued his curiosity. After doing some research into various schools, he decided to apply to Harvard Divinity School and in January 2001 he entered the master’s program. THE ‘RIGHT MOVE’ Levin said he’s confident that he made the right move. “Since I have commenced my studies, I have not questioned a single decision I have made,” he said. He enjoys his new focus on religion, and has managed to integrate his legal background into his studies. Many of his papers, for example, center on legal issues in religion. Though Levin enjoyed being back in the courtroom, he said that he will only pick up around one case a year and it “has to be something I really believe in.” Once he completes the master’s program, Levin sees himself becoming a law professor. He believes that teaching will allow him to integrate his legal background with his religious expertise.

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