On the the heels of a state Troubled Waters forum in Boca Raton probing the rising cost of certain insurance claims and the role of lawyers, one law firm specializing in the field says it is expanding in West Palm Beach and other cities.
“It doesn’t get any tougher for policyholders than South Florida,” said Christopher Mammel, who is joining the Tampa-based Merlin Law Group in its West Palm Beach office. He said the firm wants to show policyholders it “has their back.”
A statement by the law firm Wednesday says Mammel is licensed in Florida, Colorado and Illinois and has experience in multiple states. Also joining the firm in West Palm Beach is Tamara Chen-See, formerly with the firm of Becker & Poliakoff and once an investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the statement.
Merlin announced the moves as part of a larger effort that features expansion into Chicago and adding to its Arizona office. Total employment at the firm is climbing to 92 from 79, including 41 lawyers overall and nine employees, up from seven, in West Palm Beach, officials said.
In this arms race, insurers bring a different view to the table. Some attorneys are part of a problem that is driving up costs for everyone, said Paresh Patel, CEO of Tampa-based insurer Homeowners Choice, at the Boca Raton forum on water-damage claims Tuesday.
Florida “can’t keep going down this merry road” and needs to close “loopholes” that repair contractors, lawyers and others are using, he said.