Fred Levin

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Fredric G. Levin
Frederic G. Levin.jpg
Born (1937-03-29) March 29, 1937 (age 80)
Pensacola, Florida
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Florida
Occupation Attorney
Known for Rewriting Florida’s Medicaid Third-Party Recovery Act allowing the state of Florida to sue the Tobacco Industry; Benefactor of the University of Florida Levin College of Law
Spouse(s) Marilyn Kapner Levin (1959 - 2011)
Children Marci L. Goodman, Debra L. Dreyer, Martin H. Levin, Kimberly R. Brielmayer

Fredric Gerson Levin (born March 29, 1937) is an American plaintiffs’ lawyer in the state of Florida, who serves as chairman of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A, a law firm in Northwest Florida.[1][2] The Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida is named for him because of a donation he made to the school in 1999, then the largest gift in the school's history.

Fred (as he is most commonly referenced) is best known for rewriting Florida’s Medicaid Third-Party Recovery Act to allow the State of Florida to sue and recover billions of dollars from the tobacco industry for smoking related illnesses, and making Fred one of the wealthiest individuals in Florida after his law firm earned a more than $300 million fee.[3][4] His flamboyant and brazen personality has resulted in him being prosecuted by The Florida Bar two times, and investigated two additional times.[5][6]

A comprehensive biography on Fred's life was written by Five-Time New York Times bestseller Josh Young and published by BenBella Books. The book is called And Give Up ShowBiz? How Fred Levin Beat Big Tobacco, Avoided Two Murder Prosecutions, Became a Chief of Ghana, Earned Boxing Manager of the Year & Transformed American Law.[7] Young summed up his thoughts on Fred, and trial lawyers in general, as follows: "After spending a year researching and writing this book, I have a mixed perception of trial lawyers of Fred Levin's caliber. They can be heroes, yet vulgar. Their actions often are motivated by immense financial incentive, but also often result in colossal societal health benefits that could not be attained without them. They can be self-absorbed and egomaniacal, but at the same time unusually empathetic. Without question, they have been historically needed to preserve and protect individual liberties and freedom, and to promote universal safety improvements in all facets of commercial life."[8]

The life of Fred Levin was best summed up in the weekly peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, which is the one of the world’s oldest and best known medical journal. In its December 2014 edition, the author wrote: "And Give Up Showbiz? explores the extraordinary life of a pioneering and often controversial lawyer. Seen as an inspiring innovator by some, and a flamboyant self-promoter by others, Levin’s work was not always met with a favourable outcome. Levin was accused of two murders, and has often met with controversy because of his relentless fight for justice against big companies. His home life, while loving, was often neglected in his pursuit of business, and this is mentioned several times in the book—bringing a sense of balance to the stories. . . . Love him or hate him, Fred Levin has enhanced the lives of many who needed help, and lived a life that only could be emulated in a Hollywood movie . . . and probably will be."[9]

Personal life[edit]

caption
Fred Levin (bottom right), with his parents and brothers in 1950

Fred was born on March 29, 1937, in Pensacola, Florida. He grew up in a conservative Jewish household, with his mother (Rose), father (Abe), and brothers (David, Herman, Stanley, Martin & Allen).[10][11] His father was a pawnbroker catering to the large military presence in the Pensacola area, and also ran the concessions at the Pensacola Greyhound Park and at a store on Pensacola Beach.[12][13]

Fred attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, as an undergraduate, but was far from a scholar. Instead, he enjoyed drinking, smoking, gambling and socializing.[14][15] He was a member of Pi Lambda Phi, one of two Jewish fraternities on campus.[16][17] It was at the University of Florida where he met his future wife, Marilyn, who was a member of the Jewish sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi.[18][19] Marilyn and Fred had been married for 51 years upon her passing on February 6, 2011, survived by four children and seven grandchildren.[20]

In 1958 Fred entered the University of Florida College of Law, mainly because he didn’t want to leave the college party lifestyle, and his older brother David had established a small law firm that Fred could work. He had to attend summer school just to get into law school, as his grades were below the required minimum 2.0 average.[21][22] In 1958 virtually anyone could get into a Florida public law school, but relatively few would graduate.[23]

Marilyn and Fred - 1967 
Marilyn and Fred - 2005. 

In Fred’s first few weeks of law school, he received news that his brother Martin didn’t have long to live, succumbing to the end-stages of leukemia. Fred approached the dean of the law school, and asked for a few days away from school to attend his brother’s funeral. The dean looked at Fred’s undergraduate record, and told him that he could take the time off and that he didn’t need to return as he never would make it through law school.[24]

Fred drove from Gainesville to Pensacola, but did not make it to Pensacola before his brother died. Ignoring the advice of the dean, Fred returned to law school where he thrived, finishing third in his class. Fred’s plan after law school was to return to Pensacola and practice with his brother for one year, and then return to law school to get a masters in tax law. He had no intention of becoming a trial lawyer as he was terrified by public speaking, having blown his Bar Mitzvah speech.[25][26]

Legal Career Highlights[edit]

In 1961, Fred began practicing in the law firm of Levin & Askew (now known as Levin Papantonio) in Pensacola.[27] The firm was founded by his brother David and Reubin Askew, who eventually would go on to become a two-term governor of Florida and candidate for President of the United States.[28][29]

caption
Fred Levin and a few partners in the late 1960s. David Levin (top, middle), Reubin Askew (top right) & Fred Levin (bottom left).

Fred began his legal career in family law, but once a client explained that her husband said he would kill her divorce lawyer, he chose to switch to general civil law.[30] His first case involved an insurance dispute over a residential fire claim. The case ended up before a jury, and though terrified to try it, Fred won the case and then realized that he wanted to become a trial lawyer.[31][32][33]

Fred’s next big break came in the late 1960s when he handled a case involving the wrongful death of a child who had taken the antibiotic Chloromycetin. Fred again won the case. While the compensatory damages were not huge, the judge allowed Fred to pursue a punitive damage claim which ended up playing a large role in the drug being pulled from the market in the United States for most uses.[34]

The case that brought Fred national attention was Thorshov v. L&N. The Thorshov story began on November 9, 1977. Dr. Jon Thorshov, a thirty-eight-year-old physician, his wife, his four-year-old daughter, and his one-year-old son were at their home in Pensacola when a massive freight train operated by L&N derailed near their home and released anhydrous ammonia. The family attempted to escape their home, but were overcome by the fumes. Dr. and Ms. Thorshov died, and both children sustained serious physical injuries.[35] In 1980, Fred received a jury verdict for the family in the amount of $18 million, which included the highest personal injury compensatory award in America at the time.[36][37] The reach of the verdict was so wide that US magazine did a story on Fred in its swimsuit preview issue. On the cover were Randi Oakes from CHiPs, Morgan Fairchild from Flamingo Road, and Donna Mills from Knots Landing. Inside was a half-page picture of Fred Levin standing in front of an L&N railcar under the headline, “I’ll Sue.”[38]

After the Thorshov case, Fred became in high demand as trial lawyer—writing a book, lecturing throughout the country, representing politicians, and racking up multiple million dollar jury verdicts. To date, he has received more than thirty jury verdicts in excess of $1,000,000 (six in excess of $10,000,000). At various points in his career he has held the national record for jury verdicts involving the wrongful death of a child, the wrongful death of a housewife, the wrongful death of a wage earner, and the largest personal injury verdict in the state of Florida.[39][40] He has been listed in every edition of Best Lawyers in America; is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates; and was inducted into The National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2009.[41][42][43]

Tobacco Litigation[edit]

Fred’s greatest notoriety and source of his immense wealth came as a result of rewriting Florida’s Medicaid Third-Party Recovery Act. Fred was at a trial lawyer conference when another attorney saw Fred drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette. The attorney told Fred that smoking was going to kill him, and that he was working with the State of Mississippi to sue the tobacco industry for compensation for all the money Mississippi was spending in Medicaid dollars treating smoking related illnesses. Fred thought it was crazy, explaining that the tobacco industry had never paid a penny to anyone as a result of smoking injuries.[44][45]

Fred returned to Pensacola and thought about the potential case, and went to the Florida statute allowing the state of Florida to recover against individuals and companies that harm someone where the State has to pay Medicaid. Fred realized that with some innocuous changes, he could rewrite the law so that the State could sue the tobacco industry without the tobacco industry being able to raise the numerous defenses it had relied upon in winning the cases against it.[46][47][48]

Fred made the changes, and then approached a good friend who was the dean of the Florida Senate. The two then went to the Governor of Florida, who loved the idea. The dean of the Senate then secretly got the law passed on the last day of session and at the last minute. The Senator made it part of another law that everyone supported, and Fred’s amendments passed.[49][50][51] When the tobacco industry discovered the true intent, they went nuts and began flooding money into the Senate to repeal the statute.[52][53] The Senate voted to repeal it, but the Governor vetoed the repeal. The Senate then came within one vote of overriding the Governor’s veto, but could not, and the law stood.[54][55]

After the passage of Fred’s law, John French, a lobbyist for Philip Morris USA, railed, “This is probably the single biggest issue to ever have been run through in the dead of the night.”[56] John Shebel, president of the pro-business organization Associated Industries of Florida, told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, “This law is probably one of the worst laws ever passed by any Legislature.”[57] And Walker Merryman, vice president of the Tobacco Institute, said, “It’s certainly creative, and it demonstrates how a government will try to impose a significant financial burden on one portion of the economy.”[58]

Gannett News Service summed up the situation: “What they engineered was a first-of-its-kind bill making it much easier for the state to recoup money it spends for treating cancer patients and others with smoking-related diseases. . . . Its created such an uproar in Tallahassee that tobacco companies have pledged millions of dollars to fight the bill either by getting it vetoed or using the upcoming special session on health care to change or eliminate it.”[59]

But one thing was clear. Big Tobacco was being taken to the brink. “I could say, I think without exaggerating, that the financial life of the tobacco industry is riding on [the veto of the bill],” said John Banahaf, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health.[60] Professor Richard Daynard of Northeastern University said, "If [the bill] gets signed, it will be the single biggest blow against the tobacco industry and for the public health that's ever been done in the United states.”[61]

Challenges to Fred’s law made it all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, but was upheld.[62][63][64] Immediately after jury selection, the tobacco industry settled with the State of Florida for a record $13 billion. Fred’s law firm would end up earning a fee of more than $300 million.[65] Soon thereafter, Fred appeared on ABC's "20/20" talking to reporter John Stossel. While interviewing him for the piece, Fred lit up a cigarette, which ABC highlighted in the segment.[66] Next, he appeared on two full pages of George Magazine, standing on his putting green in a tuxedo, drinking Crown Royal whiskey and smoking a cigarette.[67] He was then highlighted in a Time Magazine article entitled: "Are Lawyers Running America?"[68]

The Florida Bar Prosecutions[edit]

Fred has had a lengthy and hostile relationship with The Florida Bar whom Fred often and openly refers to as lily-white elitists, country club, men.[69] He has been prosecuted by The Florida Bar on two occasions, and formally investigated on another two occasions. In the first investigation, Fred stated on his primetime, live, call-in, television show that doctors have "this God-complex--they think they are above the law." The investigation did not result in Bar charges.[70] In the second investigation, and first prosecution, Fred admitted on his television show to gambling on football games, and said he found nothing wrong with it.[71] He mocked law enforcement for arresting and prosecuting local bookies, as if they were an elite swat team fighting terrorism. He commented that the local law enforcement and prosecutors wouldn’t have the guts to go down to the high crime streets in Pensacola to arrest drug dealers and rapists because they would be scared to get shot. The Florida Bar charged Fred with ethics violation as he was admitting to violations of Florida law, and demeaning the legal profession.[72][73] The prosecution became a circus with numerous witnesses testifying to Fred’s extraordinary legal skills and charitable nature, but the judge found him guilty and a public reprimand was recommended.[74][75] Fred challenged the decision all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but in the end he received his public reprimand.[76]

The third investigation, and second prosecution, involved Fred’s use of the word “ridiculous” to describe the defense in two separate civil cases.[77][78] Fred won both cases and received large jury verdicts, but both verdicts were taken away on appeal because the appellate court believed Fred inflamed the jury by calling the defense ridiculous.[79][80] The Florida Bar then brought charges against Fred alleging that his closing argument violated ethics rules because he was stating his personal opinion.[81][82] This was the first time in U.S. history that a lawyer was charged by a bar disciplinary committee in a situation such as this. Once again the trial, in which Fred was represented by his son, became a circus; but this time he was found innocent.[83][84][85][86]

The fourth investigation occurred when a friend of Fred’s, the Senator who passed the tobacco legislation, was being prosecuted for violations of Florida’s Sunshine Act. The key witness against the Senator (who now was a county commissioner) was another local county commissioner who claimed the now former Senator offered him a bribe to pass an item before him. When the former Senator was convicted of violation of the Sunshine Act, the media swarmed Fred for comment. Upset and unable to withhold his feelings, Fred called the witness a “rat fink.” He then told the Pensacola News Journal, “If [the witness] was on the Titanic, he would dress like a woman and jump on the first lifeboat.”[87][88] Fred called the judge’s ruling not to free the politician while he appealed “unconscionable.” He also assailed the judge. “I have never been so embarrassed or ashamed of the legal profession,” he told the paper. “I believe the inmates have taken over the asylum.” Asked what exactly he meant, Fred replied, “That means the nuts are in charge.”[89]

Fred's comments led to an ethics complaint being filed against Fred with The Florida Bar—the third in his career. Months later, the Florida Bar’s grievance committee ruled there was no cause to pursue a full investigation into the matter.[90] However, The Bar sent Fred a castigating “letter of advice” as to how to act in the future. The letter said: “While your conduct in this instance does not warrant formal discipline, the committee believes that it was not consistent with the high standards of our profession. The committee hopes that this letter will make you more aware of your obligation to uphold these professional standards, and that you will adjust your conduct accordingly.”[91]

Gulf Power Murder Mystery[edit]

On April 10, 1989, at approximately 1:00 p.m. C.S.T., a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 200 crashed with minutes of takeoff from Pensacola Regional Airport, killing the two pilots and the single passenger, Jacob F. “Jake” Horton. The plane was owned by Southern Company, which is an American electric utility holding company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.[92][93][94] The company is currently the 16th largest utility company in the world, and the fourth largest in the U.S.[95]

Jake was a Senior Vice-President at Gulf Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Company. The cause of the plane crash has never been solved, with theories including pilot error, poor maintenance, sabotage, and suicide. Fred became embroiled in the incident because he was one of the very last persons to speak with Jake, and he also was legal counsel for Gulf Power.[96][97]

In the months before the plane crash, Southern Company was under a federal grand jury investigation for possible tax evasion and inappropriate political contributions. Gulf Power and Jake were at the center of the investigation, with Southern Company claiming that Jake was the primary responsible party. Between 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. C.S.T. on April 10, 1989, Jake met privately with Fred in Fred’s office. Fred’s law firm had been serving as private counsel for Gulf Power for many years, and Fred also was a close personal friend of Jake. Southern Company wanted Fred to convince Jake to resign, but Jake wished to remain employed and clear his name. Prior to leaving Fred’s office, Jake ordered a corporate plane to take him from Pensacola to Atlanta where he wished to meet with the president of Southern Company. Jake boarded the plane approximately 1.5 hours later, and within minutes the plane crashed, killing all on board.[98][99] Within three hours after the crash, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous call stating: “You can stop investigating Gulf Power now. We took care of that.”[100][101] Within two weeks of the plane crash, and in protest to Southern Company blaming Jake, Fred quit as counsel for Gulf Power, giving up a $500,000 yearly fee being paid by Southern Company to his law firm.[102][103][104]

Over the next year, the federal grand jury investigation continued, and Fred eventually was called to testify. Southern Company took the position that Fred was not permitted to testify because his knowledge was subject to attorney-client privilege. Southern Company finally agreed to allow Fred to testify, but only on the very limited subject of his conversation with Jake on the morning of the plane crash. Southern Company would not permit Fred to talk to the National Transportation Safety Board or the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.[105][106]

In the days before Fred was scheduled to testify, someone began leaving parakeets at his home and office with their necks broken. Also, someone called the FBI stating that Fred would be killed if he were to testify. Fred ended up testifying, and five U.S. Marshalls escorted him to and from the hearing.[107][108]

Despite numerous federal and state investigations, and multiple lawsuits, the cause of the plane crash has never been solved.[109] Gulf Power ended up pleading guilty to illegal political contributions and other violations, and paid a $500,000 fine. Gulf Power blamed Horton for the illegal events.[110][111]

Boxing Manager Career[edit]

caption
Roy Jones, Jr. & Fred Levin
caption
Fred Levin & Leroy Neiman

In 1989, Fred began managing the boxing career of Roy Jones, Jr., who had just returned from Seoul, Korea, having earned a silver medal in the 1988 Olympic Games. The fact that Roy did not win the gold medal became an international issue after it was discovered that three of the judges had been subject to inappropriate contact, and then awarded the gold medal to the South Korean fighter who clearly had been beaten. Roy landed almost three times as many punches as his opponent. Although the three judges were suspended, with two being banned for life, Roy was not awarded the gold medal.[112][113][114]

Fred knew nothing about boxing at the time he began representing Roy, but he battled against the established promoters such as Don King, Dan Duva and Bob Arum to get Roy a middleweight championship fight against James Toney. Roy won the fight, and earned a multimillion-dollar long-term contract with HBO.[115] Fred received the 1995 Al Buck Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America as boxing manager of the year; and received the Rocky Marciano Foundation President's Award in 2001.[116]

Through his boxing endeavors, Fred became friends with many of boxing's legends, including Muhammad Ali, Don King and LeRoy Neiman.

Fred managed Roy’s boxing career from 1989 – 2003. Fred’s last fight with Roy was the pinnacle of both of their boxing careers. Fred arranged for Roy to fight John Ruiz on March 1, 2003, in Las Vegas for the heavyweight championship of the world. Ruiz had recently defeated Evander Holyfield for the championship. Jones officially weighed in at 193 pounds to Ruiz’s 226 pounds. Incredibly, Jones ended up winning a unanimous decision, becoming the first former middleweight title holder to win a heavyweight title in 106 years, the last being Bob Fitzsimmons in 1896. Jones also became the first fighter in history to start his career as a junior middleweight and become a heavyweight champion.[117]

African American Community[edit]

caption
George Starke and Fred Levin at the law school naming.

Fred has always enjoyed a very close relationship with the black community. When Fred entered the University of Florida College of Law in 1958, George Starke, the first African American student to enter a public institution in the state of Florida, entered with Fred's class. Fred described the first day as follows: "They had all of us on one side of the auditorium and he was all by himself, except for all the Secret Service people. Up to that point, I had not thought much about racial issues. I looked over and my heart went out to him. Here were 350 white law students and this one black guy. He was dressed in a suit, and the rest of us were dressed like bums. They started shuffling him, which is rubbing your feet together on the floor like they do in prison. . . . I always studied in the library, and I would look across at George because he always had to sit at a table by himself and everybody would shuffle their feet. It just tore me up. I wanted to go over and sit with him, but I didn't have the guts."[118][119]

After the first semester of law school, and Fred being ranked at the top of his class, Fred found the courage to approach George to become his study partner. One day Fred was studying in the library. George walked in, and everyone started shuffling him. Fred got up and walked over to George, and asked if he wanted to be his study partner, and George said yes.[120] The two remained friends for the next two years. Although Fred ended up graduating number three out of his graduating class, George failed to graduate.[121]

In an extensive oral history interview conducted by Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida, Fred described the final events leading to George leaving the University of Florida. "We were going to study for the exam the next day, I told him to meet me at my apartment. I was running a little late, and I got there, and he's sitting on the steps, we were an upstairs apartment. I said, 'Why didn't you go on in?' He said, 'You don't understand, a colored man doesn't go into an apartment where a white woman is.' I said, 'Oh the hell with it, come on.' So we came in, Marilyn cooked supper for us, and we studied all night long. I had these little flip cards that worked real well. All night long. He goes home, and I clean up and go to the exam, and he never shows up. He had gone home just to lay down for a second [snap of fingers], slept through the exam. They wouldn't give him another exam, they flunked him."[122]

When the law school was renamed to the Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1999, George attended in support of Fred.[123][124]

caption
Fred Levin being inducted as a chief of Ghana.

Shortly after becoming a lawyer in Pensacola, Fred nominated Nathaniel Dedmond to be the first African American as a member of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Counties Bar Association. The Association was so offended by the nomination that they had several of the wives call Marilyn, Fred's wife. They asked her how she would like to be sitting next to Nathaniel Dedmond's wife at a bar meeting. They were hoping to get Marilyn to go to Fred and have him drop the nomination. Instead, Marilyn replied: "Oh, yes, that will be fine." Fred commented that he had never been more proud of Marilyn.[125] When the nomination finally came up for vote, the Association quickly voted against Fred’s nomination, and this became the catalyst for the animosity and resentment between Fred and the traditional, white, male dominated association, which continues to this day.[126][127]

Fred continued his efforts on behalf of the black community, and in 1999, he received recognition by being named a Chief of the country of Ghana,[128][129][130][131] and receiving a citation from the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus; which provides in part: “We of the Congressional Black Caucus wish to join with the distinguished world citizens and other leaders in congratulating you on your designation as a Ghanaian Chief. But more specifically, we wish to honor your lifelong contributions to bettering the lives of the people of Ghana and the people of America. Long before we became aware of your outstanding contributions in Africa, we knew of your work as a lawyer fighting on the side of underprivileged people in America. We thank you for that rich legacy. We are proud that the world community is now beginning to recognize your valuable service to it as well.”[132]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Fred received the Perry Nichols Award in 1994, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Florida Justice Association, and is given in recognition for a person's lifetime achievements in the pursuit of justice.[133][134]

For the year 1999, the National Law Journal named Fred as the top civil litigator in Florida. This honor encompassed plaintiff and defense counsel.[135] Fred also was named in the October 4, 1999, edition of the National Law Journal as one of the "Top Ten Litigators for 1999", which again included both plaintiff and defense counsel.[136]

In 1999, Fred was honored at the United Nations by being made a Chief in the Republic of Ghana, one of only three Americans ever so honored.[137] This honor was bestowed on Fred because of his lifetime of dedication to equal justice for people of all races.[138] At the same time, Fred received a citation honoring him by the United States Congressional Black Caucus.[139]

Fred is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an organization limited to 100 of the top trial attorneys in the country, and has been listed in every edition of the publication Best Lawyers in America. In 2009, he was inducted into The National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.[140][141][142] In 2016, Fred was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by The National Trial Lawyers.[143]

Current Legal Practice[edit]

At the age of 77, Fred continues to practice law, and continues to go to work every day, including Saturday and Sunday. "I want the practice of law to continue," he says. "I want there to be lawyers. Less and less people are going to law school now. In 2013, applications to accredited law schools dropped for a third consecutive year. My son, Martin, left the practice of law because of its transformation from the personal--a lawyer representing one client--to a business where a lawyer represents thousands of clients in mass tort or class action."[144] Despite his personal opposition to mass torts, Fred reluctantly transferred his law firm's primary practice to this niche area of law.[145][146] The firm now runs Mass Torts Made Perfect, a conference held twice a year, usually in Las Vegas, to bring together mass tort lawyers from across the country.[147]

In 2013, when he was 76, he proved he still had his courtroom skills winning a $3.4 million jury verdict in an ATV case that virtually no one else in the country had been able to win despite numerous attempts.[148] In 2014, at the age of 77, he won a $12.6 million jury verdict in an automobile accident case,[149] and in 2016 (age 79), he was named national Trial Lawyer of the Year.[150]

Charitable Work[edit]

Fred gave the first professorship at the University of West Florida, in honor of his father.[151] Since that time, Fred, along with his late brother David, and law partner, the late Lefferts L. Mabie, Jr., have endowed a number of professorships and a Chair at the University of Florida law school.[152][153]

In 1998, Fred gave the University of Florida law school the second largest cash donation ever given to a public law school, as of that time.[154][155] In 1999, the law school name was officially changed to the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law.[156]

In 1998, Fred also contributed $2 million to the Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation.[157] This non-profit foundation promotes individuals and organizations that care for and assist children with the basic needs of life – food, shelter, clothing, a safe home environment, and education. In 2001, the West Florida Association of Fundraising Professionals honored the Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation as West Florida’s “Outstanding Philanthropic Organization.”[158] To date, the Foundation has contributed more than $3 million to organizations such as: Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen; Habitat for Humanity; Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital; Escambia Westgate Center; and Gulf Coast Kid's House.[159]

In 2006, Fred gave the University of Florida law school another $2 million to help fund the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center, which has become one of the top advocacy centers in America.[160][161]

In 2013, Fred gave $1 million in memory of his recently deceased wife to the Lubavitch-Chabad Student and Community Center at the University of Florida.[162]

In 2015, Fred (along with his sister-in-law Teri) gave $1 million to the YMCA of Northwest Florida to support the construction of its new facility in downtown Pensacola.[163]

Levin College of Law[edit]

The Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida is named for him because of a $10 million cash donation he made to the school in 1999. The gift was the largest-ever cash donation to the University of Florida; the second-largest gift ever to a public law school when matched with state funds; and more than three times larger than any gift in the college's 90-year history.[164] The naming drew statewide attention because of the vehement criticism of having the state’s prestigious law school named after a person many thought to be reprehensible and undeserving.[165][166][167]

One letter to the then dean of the law school read: "I have no problem with naming the law school in honor of an appropriate person, as other colleges have done, but naming our college after Fred Levin does no honor to him, to the institution, or its constituency, and demeans the efforts of the many deans, faculty, and alumni who have worked for so many years to achieve the vision of making our college one of the top twenty law schools. . . . You degraded the image and prestige of the University of Florida College of Law by selling its good name to Fred Levin, a lawyer who has been castigated by the courts for abusing the rules, and is notorious for commercializing the practice, thumbing his nose at the bar, and otherwise manipulating the system."[168][169] In response, Levin told the press: "Two hundred years from now the great, great, great grandchildren (of my critics) will be getting their law degrees from a school with my name on it. It's a good feeling."[170] "It makes me feel great, when their great-grandchildren go up to that stage to get the law degree, they'll know that, dadgum it, that Jew's name is up there on the damn diploma. It's just gotta eat at them."[171]

Publications[edit]

  • Operations and the Rule Against Perpetuities, 13 Fla. L. Rev. 214 (1960-1961)
  • Wrongful Death and Florida's '10-20' Liability Policy -- The Twilight Zone, 13 Fla. L. Rev. 377 (1960-1961)
  • A Trial Lawyers look at No-Fault, 1 Miss. College L. Rev. 271 (1979)
  • Personal Injury Protection Coverage, Florida No-Fault Ins. Prac. (2d ed. 1979)
  • Attorney's Fees, Florida Civil Practice (2d ed. 1980)
  • Visiting Florida's No-Fault Experience: Is it Now Constitutional?, 54 Fla. Bar. J. 2 (1980)
  • Structured Settlements in Review: A Case Study, The Am. J. of Trial Advocacy Vol. 4, No. 3, pg. 579 (Spring 1981)
  • Effective Opening Statements: The Attorney's Master Key to Courtroom Victory (1983)
  • The Trial Masters, Strategy for Opening Statement: A Case Study pp. 158–196 (1984)
  • The Art of Cross-Examination: A Case Study, 9 Trial Diplomacy J. 1 (1986)
  • Plaintiff's Trial Strategy, Periodic Payment Judgment (1987)
  • The Winning Attitude, 2 Trial Practice News Letter 4 (1988)
  • A Plaintiff's Guide to Effective Opening Statements, 9 Verdicts, Settlements & Tactics (Sept. 1989)
  • Opening Statement, Fla. Civil Trial Prac. (4th ed. 1990)
  • Opening Statement, Florida Civil Trial Practice Ch. 8 (5th ed. 1998)
  • Closing Arguments, The Last Battle (2003)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kaczor, Bill (March 1, 1999). "Controversy Loves Lawyers Whose Name is on School". The Miami Herald. 
  2. ^ "Fredric Levin -- Attorney Profile". www.levinlaw.com. Levin Papantonio. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Gibeaut, John (September 1988). "For Rigging Statute Lawyer Wants a Slice". American Bar Association Journal: 51. 
  4. ^ Jones, Randall (March 2002). "The Richest Person in Town". Worth Magazine: 72–73. 
  5. ^ Graybiel, Ginny (July 10, 1996). "Attorney Levin to Testify on Ethics Charges". The Pensacola News Journal. 
  6. ^ Graybiel, Ginny (July 2, 2002). "Fellow Lawyers Sues Levin for Disparaging Junior". The Pensacola News Journal. 
  7. ^ Young, Josh (2014). And Give Up ShowBiz? How Fred Levin Beat Big Tobacco, Avoided Two Murder Prosecutions, Became a Chief of Ghana, Earned Boxing Manager of the Year & Transformed American Law. BenBella. ISBN 978-1-940363-41-7. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Young, Josh (2014). And Give Up ShowBiz? How Fred Levin Beat Big Tobacco, Avoided Two Murder Prosecutions, Became a Chief of Ghana, Earned Boxing Manager of the Year & Transformed American Law. BenBella Books. p. 211. ISBN 978-1-940363-41-7. 
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  65. ^ Jones, Randall (March 2002). "The Richest Person in Town". Worth Magazine: 72–73. 
  66. ^ Trever, Elizabeth (May 22, 1999). "Putting Green, Tuxedo and Cocktail? Hail 'Puff Daddy' Levin". The Pensacola News Journal. 
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  153. ^ "Pensacola Lawyers Establishing College's Largest Professorship Endowment". University of Florida Lawyer Magazine: 2. Spring 1995. 
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  155. ^ Lewis, Sonja (January 12, 1999). "Levin's Gift Will Add to UF's Prestige". The Pensacola News Journal. 
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  158. ^ Jacobson, Jahna (December 11, 2001). "Foundation's Hands-On Approach Source of Inspiration". The Pensacola News Journal. 
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  161. ^ Stripling, Jack (February 25, 2006). "Fred Levin Gives UF $2 Million for Courtroom Facility". The Gainesville Sun. 
  162. ^ Schwartzman, Bryan. "Public University with Largest Number of Jewish Students 'Gains' Ground". Chabad.org. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  163. ^ "Levin family donates $1 million to new YMCA". Pensacola Today. Studer Community Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  164. ^ Stobbie, Denise (June 1999). "Gift From Alumnus Fredric Levin Gives UF Law Stability and Vision". University of Florida Today Magazine: 18–21. 
  165. ^ Graybiel, Ginny (January 7, 1999). "Levin Gift Means New Name for Law School". The Pensacola News Journal. 
  166. ^ Geller, Brian (January 10, 1999). "Some Question Law School Naming". The Gainesville Sun. 
  167. ^ MacDonald, Mary (January 20, 1999). "New Law School Name Angers Some Alumni". The Florida Times Union. 
  168. ^ "Letter from James C. Rinaman, Jr. to Richard Matasar, Dean University of Florida College of Law". March 18, 1999. 
  169. ^ Rosen, Larry (2006). "The Pugilist: The Three Biggest Things to Hit Pensacola Just Might be Jesus, Hurricane Ivan and Fred Levin". Super Lawyers Magazine: 12–15. 
  170. ^ Brou, Paul (November 1999). "Lightning Rod: He's One of Florida's Most Controversial Lawyers". Florida Trend. 
  171. ^ Rosen, Larry (2006). "The Pugilist: The Three Biggest Things to Hit Pensacola Just Might be Jesus, Hurricane Ivan and Fred Levin". Super Lawyers Magazine: 12–15. 

External links[edit]