Senior Shareholder Steven Rothman
is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney in Jones Foster's Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice group. He focuses his practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on product liability, wrongful death, personal injury, and commercial litigation matters. Steve represents clients in high-stakes litigation, often in cases with complex technical issues. He is consistently recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Florida Super Lawyers in the area of litigation.
We sat down with Steve to discuss his background and his practice here at Jones Foster.
How do you describe your litigation practice?
I represent clients in a diverse range of civil cases—“civil” meaning cases in which money or property is in dispute. These matters may involve personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, insurance claims, commercial and business disputes, fraud, theft, defamation or infringement of proprietary rights. The personal injury and product liability cases arise from all manner of situations, in industries ranging from pharmaceutical and medical to underground utilities and automotive, and may involve severe bodily injury such as paralysis, amputations, electrical burns, brain damage, or death. I also represent clients in real estate and business disputes.
You have a diverse litigation practice, what are some of the most interesting or unique types of cases you handle?
Over the years, I have litigated many interesting cases, but a few stand out in my mind. One involved the $100+ million estate of a Palm Beach man who shot and killed his wife (40 years his junior) and shot and seriously injured her brother following a contentious divorce and loss of half his fortune. Following his death in prison, I represented his estate in three lawsuits which resulted in three in back-to-back jury trials arising from those salacious facts.
A notable personal injury case involved a theater patron who was hit by a water-logged ceiling tile while watching a movie. She suffered two herniated discs in her neck, but had no surgery. Following an eight-day trial, the jury awarded my client $1.9 million, and the award was affirmed on appeal. The award remains one of the largest for this type of injury.
I also represented the family of a missing Tampa woman in a “Slayer Statute” case. In Florida, the “Slayer Statute” provides that “someone who unlawfully and intentionally kills or participates in procuring the death of the decedent is not entitled to any benefits under the will or under the Florida Probate Code, and the estate . . . passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.” The missing person case was eventually deemed a homicide, although the body has never been found, and the decedent’s boyfriend was a “person of interest” in her killing. He was the sole beneficiary of her multi-million dollar estate and the family sought to keep her boyfriend from inheriting the estate proceeds.
You have made a substantial commitment throughout your career to obtain advanced industry and technical certifications. How has this helped to better serve your clients?
I strive to offer my clients the best legal counsel possible, and believe that investing in advanced legal and industry-related education not only enhances my skills but gives my clients a level of confidence in my ability to represent them in civil litigation. I am a Board Certified Civil Trial attorney, the highest level of recognition of professional experience and competence in the world of civil litigation. Out of approximately 107,000 attorneys admitted to practice law in the State of Florida, only a little over 1,000 attorneys are board certified in Civil Trial. This distinction is earned only after rigorous testing, peer-review by judges and other board-certified practitioners, and extensive jury trial experience.
I am also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, known as “ABOTA,” the premier invitation-only association of the country’s most experienced trial lawyers and judges. ABOTA membership requires extensive jury trial experience and peer-accepted virtues of civility, integrity, and professionalism.
Furthermore, I have technical training in the automotive field including a Certificate of Achievement from Michelin North America for completion of the Tire and Vehicle Dynamics, and participated in dynamic vehicular stability testing at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio. This specialized experience gives me unique technical knowledge that few attorneys can offer their clients in cases involving tire manufacturers, tire service centers and distributors, and related topics.
What do you consider your key differentiators?
Litigation is an art that involves listening and communicating. It requires the ability to really hear a client and understand their problem. An attorney must understand the problem before it can be solved, and that understanding often involves peeling back layers of information to discover important details relating to the problem, the industry, and the parties involved. Then, the attorney must be able to adeptly communicate the facts to judges and juries.
My career of representing plaintiffs and defendants in a wide array of litigation types has sharpened my ability to effectively and efficiently find solutions to achieve clients’ goals. I learned to listen carefully and convey information succinctly, which is a critical skill particularly appreciated by judges with heavy caseloads.
My trial experience includes many cases that involved death or serious, irreversible and life-altering injuries. The nature of these cases often necessitated dozens of witnesses over multi-week trials and required significant organization and experience in managing large cases.
You have practiced at Jones Foster for over 30 years and are deeply rooted in the legal community. How does this benefit your clients?
My career at Jones Foster has provided a unique and enviable support system, one that has guided my practice and helped me develop my legal skills alongside some of the most respected attorneys in Florida and beyond. There are benefits from the consistency and stability of a 96-year-old firm, especially when it’s built upon core values of professionalism, integrity, and leadership. My familiarity with the South Florida legal landscape, the legal professionals, and the state and federal courts is also an advantage to my clients.
How do you decompress from the pressures and professional demands associated with your area of practice?
I have a variety of interests and activities that give me a break from the demands of my professional life. My three children are a big part of my life, although they are now working professionals themselves. All of them are involved with the law (two practicing local attorneys and a police officer).
I enjoy an active, outdoors lifestyle that includes working out, swimming, biking, boating and fishing. I also spend time with my two Standard Poodles, along with my son who lives next door to me, and his dog. I also love music and play guitar.
A more unique and fascinating hobby of mine is beekeeping. The honey is delicious and healthy but, more importantly, bees are essential to a sustainable environment. About 30% of the world’s food supply depends on pollination by honey bees, but populations are dwindling due in part due to pollution and pesticides. So I enjoy beekeeping and encourage others to keep bees.