After nearly a decade of practice, the highly successful Fort Lauderdale litigation firm Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman is dissolving and will cease operations Oct. 31.
The partners said the success of the firm has presented them with new opportunities they’ve decided to pursue separately.
Name partners Gary Farmer Jr., Steven Jaffe, Matt Weissing, Brad Edwards, Mark Fistos and Seth Lehrman formed the firm in 2009, after the firm where they were working as associates—Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler—imploded when the firm chairman was charged in a Ponzi scheme. The six Farmer Jaffe attorneys, who had worked at Rothstein Rosenfeldt for anywhere from five months to a year, took their own cases and left, Jaffe said.
“[Rothstein] brought together some good lawyers, and there were six of us who decided to start our own firm rather than join any of the existing firms that were offering us work,” Edwards said. “It turned out pretty well.”
In a statement, the partners called their time at the firm they created “the most rewarding time of our professional careers.”
From the beginning, Edwards handled the trials; Jaffe, Fistos and Lehrman handled class actions; Weissing handled personal injury; and until recently, Farmer handled qui tam and class action cases, Edwards said.
The firm they formed recovered billions in false claims against governments, and secured relief for victims of negligence, sexual abuse, consumer rights violations and others, he said.
“I’ve been practicing 33 years and this is the finest collection of lawyers I’ve ever worked with,” Jaffe said. “We accomplished great things over those eight years,” Jaffe said.
He pointed to successes protecting elderly plaintiffs denied long-term care insurance benefits, protecting sexually abused victims and other vulnerable young people, recovering money for federal and state governments and winning a $5.7 million judgment in a federal class action case against the Trump Organization’s Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.
Among the firm’s more high-profile cases are winning a $1.42 billion award in an Ely Lilly case and another for more than $520 million against AstraZeneca.
But the partners are now pursuing other paths. Farmer has become a state senator. Jaffe is becoming a mediator and joining statewide mediation group Upchurch, Watson, White & Max Mediation Group. Weissing plans to start his own personal injury law firms, according to Edwards. Associate Adam Horowitz said he will continue to represent victims of sexual assault and abuse at his own law firm in Fort Lauderdale. Fistos will soon announce that he is joining another firm. Retired appellate judge and firm of counsel Gary Farmer Sr. will continue to write appeals.
Edwards will remain in the same location with his own litigation firm, Edwards Pottinger, where Lehrman and associate Brittany Henderson will continue to work. Fellow name partner Stan Pottinger, who was not with Farmer Jaffe, will work out of New York, where he is already based. The firm will handle business cases as well as qui tamactions, lawsuits involving health care fraud, and will represent victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking.
“We’re still going to be a litigation trial firm and will still focus primarily on representing crime victims and even more so on children who were catastrophically injured or sexually abused,” Edwards said. “It made sense while everybody is on top to do what everybody wants to do. For me, it’s not really that big of a change. I’m a trial lawyer and I’ll still be a trial lawyer.”