Insight

Warriors for Change

Obtaining outstanding results for clients, preventing harm to others.

Warriors for Change
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Justin Smulison

October 15, 2019 01:03 PM

The results accumulated by Steve Yerrid and the Yerrid Law Firm can be measured in a variety of ways: statewide and nationally, from compensation and lives saved to changes in legal precedent and community improvement. Yerrid's historic actions against Big Tobacco and BP Oil are well documented, and his more recent cases and resolutions in the areas of student and public safety have furthered the legal protections of Floridians and Americans.

“Our involvement ultimately leads to one thing: justice,” Yerrid says. “Our clients always clearly convey their definition of justice. Whether it's a change in the law, how a company conducts business or compensates those injured and killed as a result of their wrongdoing, or a combination of those, we fight to secure justice on our clients’ behalf.”

Righting Wrongs and Preventing Future Harm

For several years, Yerrid has been representing college and high school student-athletes—locally and across the country—who have been injured or died related to training or medical complications. Two of his most influential results occurred in Hillsborough County, Florida.

In 2016, Yerrid represented Wharton High School football player Sean McNamee following a severe head injury during practice that put him in a coma. In addition to negotiating a $2 million settlement with the Hillsborough County School Board on behalf of the NcNamee family, Yerrid convinced the board to agree to provide an additional $1 million in general liability coverage above the very limited cap of $300,000 in total damages allowed under Florida’s Sovereign Immunity Law that “protects” public entities. The board also established new safety guidelines patterned after the NFL’s concussion protocol.

“That was a great first step,” Yerrid notes, “but our next mission is to see that the other 66 counties in Florida follow suit, increase their coverage, and institute appropriate protections and protocols for all student-athletes and their families.”

In 2019, when Middleton High School 14-year-old freshman Hezekiah Walters lost his life in a football “conditioning” drill, his parents turned to the Yerrid Law Firm. Following Walters’ death, which was attributed to overexertion during conditioning, it was revealed that no medical professionals or trainers were on-site while Walters was suffering. This is an oversight Yerrid and his firm have set out to correct throughout Florida. He has thus far praised the district for taking initial corrective measures to ensure student safety but has publicly said that he hopes the board will institute other recommended changes to ensure no one suffers the same fate and to possibly avoid litigation. In an almost immediate response, the school board passed a measure requiring the hiring of full-time athletic trainers at every school during practices, conditioning drills, scrimmages, and official games. Further, additional safety procedures were instituted along with a requirement that all coaches attend every practice and game.

“Parents entrust the welfare of their children to public schools, and those schools need to validate that trust by considering the health risks of any student-athlete steps onto a playing field,” Yerrid says. “These matters deal with far more than money—families sincerely want to change protocols to ensure no one else endures such horrific experiences. And we're making sure their voices are heard.”

"Our involvement ultimately leads to one thing: justice."

Holding Corporations Accountable

Yerrid is one of the lead lawyers in what has been labeled a “bellwether case” against MGM Resorts International, representing Todd and Lori Kammer, two Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs who were on vacation and attended the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. That night, the married couple and parents of three found themselves amid a hailstorm of bullets that killed 58 and wounded more than 500, during what was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. The hundreds of plaintiffs claim that MGM’s Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the shooter was perched, was negligent in allowing him to bring a large amount of weaponry into the building and set up his shooting gallery.

“Lori and Todd’s training kicked in, and they sprung to action to help protect victims and bystanders,” Yerrid says. During the chaos, a bullet shattered Lori’s pelvis and caused severe internal injuries.

“The Kammers showed incredible bravery and saved lives during one of the worst crises of our time. They are heroes, and they deserve justice and compensation in order to help them heal physically, emotionally, and psychologically,” Yerrid says. “It is an honor to represent this family in this historic and tragic case.”

Giving Back to Florida Communities

In addition to his exceptional legal career, Yerrid serves as President and Chairman of the Board of The Yerrid Foundation, his self-funded, nonprofit organization which has donated millions of dollars to hundreds of charities over the years, many of which focus on causes to benefit children.

Yerrid has also served as a patron and is a past Chairman of the Gentlemen's Committee of The Children's Home, one of Tampa’s leading charitable organizations dedicated to abused and neglected children. He was also the second recipient of the Ted Williams Award as a Champion of Charity, an honor that was personally bestowed upon him by the late baseball legend on behalf of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

“It is particularly wonderful to help local Florida communities, legal associations, and charitable organizations that improve people’s lives and better our profession,” Yerrid says. “To me, giving back and making a difference is why we are all here.”

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