Wilfredo Ferrer.
Wilfredo Ferrer. (J. Albert Diaz)

Outgoing U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer is joining Holland & Knight as a partner in its Miami office, leading the firm’s global compliance and investigations team.

As head of the nation’s third largest U.S. attorney’s office, Ferrer oversaw about 400 lawyers and professional staff. His office successfully prosecuted a range of financial crimes, including health care, investment and securities fraud and identity theft. He oversaw 11,000 cases since becoming South Florida’s top prosecutor in 2010.

Moving to legal defense work is a “logical next step” in his legal career, Ferrer said, and a chance to use the experience he has gained in his years at the Department of Justice. “I see our profession as one of service either to the government or to private clients,” he said. “I’m switching sides, but I see it as a positive, logical next step after having this experience. I feel good about it. I feel like I’m helping individuals who are facing challenges.”

Ferrer said his work at Holland & Knight will focus on international and domestic investigations for corporate clients. He will also represent companies and individuals facing compliance issues, and will help them formulate corporate policies that are in compliance with state and federal laws.

Ferrer said he knew that he wanted to join a firm that had a commitment to its clients and to pro bono work. “Public service is one of the greatest callings that I know,” he said, noting that his father’s last words when he passed away in 1995 were “haz el bien” — Spanish for “do good.”

Ferrer “is one of the most respected government officials in South Florida,” said Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight in Miami. “We are proud that he has chosen to continue his remarkable career at Holland & Knight.”


An Allegheny County jury has awarded $2.1 million to a woman who tore her hamstring after slipping on a wet floor at a Target store.

After three-and-a-half days of trial and one day of deliberation before Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Della Vecchia, the jury handed up its award to plaintiff Melissa Horton on March 10. The verdict was divided into $1.4 million for past noneconomic damages and $700,000 in future noneconomic damages.

Horton’s attorney, Brendan Lupetin of Pittsburgh-based Meyers Evans Lupetin & Unatin, described Horton as an “exceptional plaintiff.”

In an email, Lupetin said, “Target tried to say the incident was Melissa’s fault. Obviously the jury saw otherwise and was disappointed that Target had not accepted responsibility for what happened. The jury also clearly came to understand the extent of harm that Melissa had sustained. This verdict was just one and I am so relieved that the jury wrote a proper ending to this otherwise unfortunate story.”

Thomas P. Birris of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s Pittsburgh office represented Target, and did not return a call seeking comment.

Horton was injured after slipping and falling on a recently mopped floor in an Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Target on Dec. 14, 2013, while shopping for goods for her co-workers, who were in town to produce an NFL Sunday Night Football game, according to her pretrial memorandum.

At the time Horton entered the store, a soda bottle fell from a shelf and spilled onto the main aisle in the store. Target employees eventually began mopping the area with “a wet soapy substance” and placing warning cones around the area.

Horton claimed in court papers that Target employees “carelessly mopped the floor well outside of the cordoned-off area.” She walked around the spill area, but once outside slipped on “the invisible wet floor” beyond it, causing her to drop into a split, court papers said.

The resulting split ripped her right hamstring out of her hip socket, according to court papers.