DBR 2023 Florida Legal Awards Litigation Departments honorees Steven C. Marks and Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck.

Posted on May 26, 2023
Steven Marks Peter Prieto
Peter Prieto and Steven Marks

What are some of the department’s most satisfying successes of 2022, and why?

The successful resolution of the case involving the Champlain Towers collapse for $1 billion, where our firm served as lead counsel for the personal injury claims, was one of our most satisfying successes. While the lives lost could never be brought back, it was rewarding to be able to obtain some level of compensation for the families of those who were lost. The same holds true for several significant aviation cases that we confidentially settled throughout the year stemming from the Boeing 737 Max 8 tragedies including the Lion Air Flight 610 crash. On the commercial side of our practice, we settled with Volkswagen in the Takata Airbags MDL for $42 million, and we settled an antitrust case brought by direct purchasers against Norwegian Salmon farmers for $85 million. Both of those settlements were very satisfying because we had invested a significant amount of time and financial resources into the cases, and it was rewarding to have a successful resolution that benefited our class members.

What was your biggest challenge in 2022 and how did you adapt?

Given our relatively small size, handling the number of large and complex cases we were litigating was–and traditionally is–one of our biggest challenges. These cases required a significant investment of time, effort, and resources, and there were times when there weren’t enough hours in the day. But we adapted the way we always do—all of us, including our wonderful staff, worked harder and smarter to meet the challenge.

The market for legal services has been changing since well before the pandemic. What does success require in this climate?

For us, success requires that we not rest on our laurels, and continue to be entrepreneurial, resourceful, and creative when it comes to our cases, as well as with the fee arrangements that we reach with our clients or co-counsel. For a firm that has a significant contingency practice, it also requires that we be smart and selective in the cases we take on. And, of course, success, especially in our profession, will always require something for which there is no substitute–hard work.

Litigators are extraordinarily busy people. What does the firm do to ensure that they remain engaged with pro bono work, their communities, and their families?

The firm has always encouraged all lawyers, especially the more junior lawyers, to be involved in their communities and their profession. Several of our lawyers have done cutting-edge pro bono work on civil rights cases such as marriage equality, and many have served in leadership roles in local and national bar associations and legal academies including the American Association of Justice and Florida Justice Association, Cuban American Bar Association, and Legal Services of Greater Miami. Equally important is our non-legal pro bono work such as our firm’s involvement with the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), National YoungArts Foundation, and countless other organizations. And we want our lawyers to spend time with their families. We consider that a good thing; it makes them better, and more satisfied, lawyers.