Childhood Friends Win Another Case 28 Years Apart

, Daily Business Review

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Joel Brown and Philip Freidin
Joel Brown and Philip Freidin

A respected retired judge and his former co-counsel joined forces as trial attorneys to win a $1.44 million negligence award for a young marine fire inspector and repairman.

In the process of getting the verdict for Diosdado Vasquez, former Chief Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Joel Brown and Philip Freidin joined forces again after 28 years. They represented Vasquez, who was injured in an April 2011 collision outside PortMiami and will never work again in his chosen profession.

After 19 years on the bench, Brown joined the personal injury firm of Freidin, Dobrinsky, Brown & Rosenblum.

Brown and Freidin are childhood friends who last worked a case together in 1985 when they were co-counsel for the parents of Mercedes Soto, a 12-year-old girl who died after a doctor failed to diagnose a burst blood vessel in her brain. The medical malpractice case resulted in a $2 million jury award.

The buddies found themselves appreciating the symmetry between the Soto and Vasquez cases.

"It certainly meant a lot to us to have won our last case together and then our first case together," Freidin said.

He also appreciated that fact that Brown wanted to return to litigation as a trial lawyer, an unusual step for a 68-year-old attorney.

"A lot of judges who are at the end of their careers either leave the bench to retire or become mediators," Freidin said.

Vasquez, now 38, was leaving the port after working on a ship when he made a turn on Dodge Island and collided with a tractor-trailer going in the same direction. He suffered a severe shoulder separation that required two surgeries but never fully recovered.

Vasquez made a good living as a self-employed fire safety inspector servicing equipment on large ships, Brown said. But the work is physically demanding, and Vasquez was unable to resume his trade.

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