Jacksonville, Florida (April 20, 2023) – Leading insurance and civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP announced today the opening of its first office in Jacksonville, Florida, led by former Wicker Smith Partner E. Holland “Holly” Howanitz as the firm’s new Jacksonville managing partner. She is joined by three additional former Wicker Smith partners: Catherine Crawley, Ashley Hollingsworth and Tara Floyd and several associates as well.
The Tyson & Mendes Jacksonville office is the firm’s third office in Florida. Together, these offices serve clients across the state in all aspects of insurance defense litigation.
While this move has been in the works for a while, the timing of the new office opening coincides well with the passing of Florida’s House Bill 837, which fundamentally changes how civil suits in Florida are litigated and which has already substantially increased the number of suits filed there.
“The opening of a Tyson & Mendes office in Jacksonville with this talented team of lawyers effectively doubles our presence in Florida at a time when the state is about to get slammed with civil suits,” said Strategic Managing Partner Robert Tyson. “In conjunction with our well-established Fort Lauderdale and Tampa offices, we have no doubt Holly will lead her team of attorneys in Jacksonville to secure positive client outcomes and advance Tyson & Mendes’ mission of ‘Justice for All’ as Florida faces a massive influx of lawsuits and sweeping reform.”
Jacksonville Managing Partner Holly Howanitz brings nearly 20 years of legal experience in practice areas including general liability, professional liability, medical malpractice, long term care, automotive, trucking and construction litigation. At her previous law firm, Wicker Smith, Howanitz served as a shareholder and was the second youngest to be moved up to equity. Throughout her career, Howanitz has successfully represented large corporations and individuals in cases, delivering favorable outcomes for her clients. Howanitz is admitted to practice in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. She was named as a “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leader” and one of Jacksonville’s “Top 25 Women of Influence” by Jacksonville Business Journal. She received her bachelor’s degree from Oglethorpe University and her juris doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law.
Partner Catherine Crawley focuses her practice on matters involving civil litigation, premises liability, construction, transportation and trucking, and medical malpractice. Crawley was a partner at Wicker Smith’s Jacksonville office. She began her law career in 2016 after graduating from Georgia State University College of Law, where she was an honors extern with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; a pupil with Logan E. Bleckley Inn of Court Mock trial team; and a graduate research assistant in litigation. She was also president of the Association of Women Law Students and was honored with the NAI Award in Advanced Evidence. Crawley currently holds the highest pro bono distinction and an NAI award in advanced evidence.
Partner Ashley Hollingsworth has experience in automobile negligence, premises liability, nursing home and assisted living facility matters. Prior to joining Tyson & Mendes, Hollingsworth was a partner at Wicker Smith’s Jacksonville office after holding a senior attorney position at a regional tax company where she handled cases related to tax compliance law throughout various states. She also was an associate attorney to a family law office representing clients in dissolution of marriage, child support, paternity, domestic violence injunction and dependency cases. Previously, she served as an assistant public defender in the 17th Judicial Circuit, where she defended misdemeanor cases up to second-degree felonies and gained recognition for three consecutive not-guilty jury-trial verdicts. Hollingsworth has been admitted to practice in the state of Florida since 2013. She is a member of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association and graduated with her juris doctor from the Florida Coastal School of Law.
Partner Tara Floyd was as a partner at Wicker Smith, working on cases involving civil litigation, construction, insurance coverage and bad faith, medical malpractice, nursing home and assisted living, automobile litigation and premises liability. In 2017, Floyd served in the Public Defender’s Office Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida where she practiced in both circuit and county court, representing juveniles and adults charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses, as well as clients in post-conviction proceedings. Nearing 10 years of legal experience, Floyd is admitted to practice in the state of Florida and is an active member of the Florida Bar and Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association. She earned her juris doctor at the Florida Coastal School of Law where she graduated with honors.
Serving 18 states nationwide, Tyson & Mendes is one of the fastest growing civil defense firms in the U.S. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $1.07 billion in 2022.
For more information and to view career opportunities, visit www.tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts.
For more information, visit www.tysonmendes.com.
Ashley Bendas/Jean Walcher, J. Walcher Communications
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