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You may never have heard of John “Jack” Scarola, but one thing is for sure — he’s on a hot streak. The 57-year-old partner at a West Palm Beach, Fla., plaintiffs’ firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, last week scored a $1.45 billion win against Morgan Stanley for billionaire Ronald O. Perelman. Perelman charged that the investment firm acted fraudulently in the 1998 sale of his Coleman camping gear company to Sunbeam Corp. for cash and Sunbeam shares, which lost value when Sunbeam collapsed. Coleman Holdings v. Morgan Stanley, No. CA 03-5045. (Palm Beach Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.). The trial was marked by a controversial ruling from Judge Elizabeth T. Maass shifting the burden of proof to Morgan Stanley because of discovery abuse. Morgan has vowed to appeal, claiming “highly prejudicial rulings” by the judge, and fueling speculation that the case will settle. Scarola, in an interview, called Maass a “conservative jurist,” locally well respected and “very rarely reversed at the appellate level.” He said “anyone who takes the time” to review Maass’ orders will come away with a very different impression of the case from the one Morgan Stanley is attempting to create. “We are extremely confident that this is a record that is going to withstand rigorous appellate review,” said Scarola, who handles personal injury, wrongful death and medical negligence cases, as well as mass torts and class actions. He was also behind David Boies’ disqualification last month from a contract case against a Palm Beach gardener in that same court. Nical of Palm Beach Inc. v. Scott P. Lewis, No. CL 96-8601. Scott Lewis, who is defending himself with Scarola’s help in that case, expressed high regard for a lawyer who let him participate in his own defense — especially in the face of such daunting odds. “I can’t think of any lawyer who has the confidence to allow a pro se gardener with no experience to let him work side-by-side with him in a case like this,” Lewis said. Scarola represented Lewis, Lewis’ wife Carol and their company from 1996 to 2000, after which Scarola has continued to represent Carol Lewis and the company while Lewis represents himself. Boies, whose firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner has four Florida offices, reportedly took 25 percent of the value of the gardening company owned by the plaintiffs in trust in lieu of payment and contributed pro bono time to represent the company of his firm’s chief financial officer, Amy Habie. The Florida judge presiding over that case decided that Boies and his firm were conflicted in representing Habie under state bar rules. Scarola received his undergraduate and law degrees at Georgetown University. He began his legal career as an assistant state’s attorney in the Palm Beach County prosecutor’s office, where he was lead counsel in the trials of more than 50 major criminal cases, his resume says. Scarola joined his firm in 1978 after winning a first-degree murder conviction in a televised trial.

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