Front row, left to right: Craig Brookes and Karen Lea Smiley. Back row, left to right: Beth Reeves, Dennis Brown, Marla-Deen Brooks. Courtesy photo. Front row, left to right: Craig Brookes and Karen Lea Smiley. Back row, left to right: Beth Reeves, Dennis Brown, Marla-Deen Brooks. Courtesy photo.

Hanks Brookes has merged with a larger litigation defense firm, Huff Powell Bailey, prompted by an uptick in work in the boutique’s practice of defending long-term care facilities.

Principal Craig Brookes said his five-lawyer group made the move because of “skyrocketing” plaintiffs’ litigation against assisted living and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. “It’s helpful for us to get on board with a firm that has a deep bench and an experienced group of lawyers,” he said.

Brookes and Karen Smiley joined as partners, bringing with them associates Denny Brown, Marla Deen Brooks, Beth Reeves and their support staff. The additions give Huff Powell 37 lawyers.

Hanks Brookes’ other name partner, Jerald Hanks, said Huff Powell wasn’t the right venue for his general liability defense and commercial litigation practice, so he’s started his own firm, Hanks Law Group.

“It’s a great fit from our end,” said Scott Bailey, a founding partner of Huff Powell. “We already know them, and their long-term care practice complements our [health care defense practice]. They’re great people, and they fit with our culture.”

Huff Powell’s bread-and-butter work is health care defense, Bailey said, representing hospitals, physicians and medical practices. (It also has a products liability defense practice lead by Mike Boorman.) Huff Powell partner Jeff Braintwain also has an established long-term care practice, Bailey added, and the firms share clients.

Brookes had worked for Huff Powell partner Dan Huff at Carlock Copeland in the early 1990s, and then Hanks Brookes sublet space about a decade ago from Huff Powell, which launched in 2003.

“It’s a ready-made platform for us because they share the same view of the world and client service,” Brookes said. His team represents national insurers, national long-term care chains that are self-insured or have a captive insurer, and local captive insurers.

The sharp growth in litigation against long-term care facilities has been driven by the consolidation of the industry, as well as greater media scrutiny and interest from plaintiffs firms, Brookes said.

In the last five to seven years, he explained, more national long-term care players have entered Georgia, as have big regional and national plaintiffs firms looking to sue them.

Brookes said his clients are receiving far more medical record requests from prospective plaintiffs to check the quality of care. “It’s fertile ground to start nitpicking,” he said.

“There has been greater scrutiny and an uptick in litigation,” he said, adding that there have been some significant recent verdicts in Georgia against long-term care providers. He attributed that to the lack of a cap in Georgia on noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

The Hanks Brookes lawyers joined Huff Powell earlier in May, which Brookes called a transitional month. Huff Powell is expanding its space in the 999 Peachtree Building in Midtown to accommodate the new group. The Hanks Brookes team will stay in its current location at Two Securities Center in Buckhead until the expansion is complete. “We expect to be fully consolidated by the end of the year,” Bailey said.

BRIEFLY

Employee benefits and ERISA practitioner Nicole Bogard has joined Barnes & Thornburg as a partner from Seyfarth Shaw. “Nicole is a proven commodity when it comes to complex tax and benefits-related laws,” said David Gotlieb, the chairman of Barnes & Thornburg’s corporate department, in a statement. “Her deep knowledge of health care regulations is a huge plus as the relationship between payers and providers continues to evolve.”

Bogard is the third partner that Barnes & Thornburg has added in Atlanta this year, following Christina Baugh from Fellows LaBriola and Mark Keenan from Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough.


Polsinelli has added intellectual property lawyer Eric Hanson as a shareholder from Hunton Andrews Kurth. As a patent prosecutor Hanson has worked on technologies, including medical devices, software, interactive media, motion picture props and construction products. He also handles IP due diligence and contract negotiations for large transactions. Hanson is Polsinelli’s first IP shareholder for its 35-lawyer Atlanta office, which added former federal prosecutor Brian Rafferty to its white-collar practice earlier in May.


F. Beaumont Howard has joined Fox Rothschild’s labor and employment practice as a partner from business boutique Freed Howard, which is now Freed Grant. Howard also has expertise in privacy law and internet forensics, and he represents clients in defamation, hacking and trade secrets theft cases.

“We’ll miss Beau, but we wish him lots of luck,” said Freed Grant’s founder, Gary Freed. Fox Rothschild entered Atlanta last year by acquiring Smith Moore Leatherwood.


IP practitioner Susan Russell has joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz as of counsel from Troutman Sanders. Russell handles trademark, copyright, and trade secret transactions, as well as enforcement and litigation. She’s experienced in international intellectual property law disputes and has served as a visiting scholar at Emory University and Columbia University law schools.


Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has elected Neel Gupta to shareholder, one of 11 new shareholders firmwide. Gupta practices defense litigation, with a focus on transportation cases. He was named Associate of the Year in 2018 for Baker Donelson’s Atlanta office.


Hawkins Parnell & Young has added associates Jeff Adams and Parsa Fattahi. Adams came from Smith & Liss and Fattahi was an assistant attorney for the Office of the Fulton County Attorney.


Tina Roddenbery of Boyd Collar Nolen Tuggle & Roddenbery has been named president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ Georgia chapter. The group has more than 1,650 fellows nationally.