Natural Disasters

Law firms, courts deal with aftermath of Hurricane Ian

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AP Hurricane Ian

This satellite image shows Hurricane Ian over the South Carolina coast Sept. 30. Image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via the Associated Press.

Law firms and courthouses are dealing with Hurricane Ian and its aftermath.

Several federal courthouses in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia were closed Friday, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ website.

Closures were reported at federal courthouses in the Florida cities of Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Fort Pierce; in the Georgia cities of Savannah and Brunswick; and in the South Carolina cities of Charleston, Florence and Columbia.

Chief Judge Timothy Corrigan of the Middle District of Florida told Law360 that the Fort Myers courthouse was without power and water, and officials hoped to get a better assessment of the damage in future days.

“For now, our focus is on the people of Fort Myers and surrounding areas, including our court staff, the legal community and the residents,” Corrigan told Law360 in a story published Thursday.

The Florida Supreme Court is also listing several state courthouse closures.

Law360 also spoke with representatives of several law firms with offices in areas that include Fort Myers, Naples and Key West. All were contacting lawyers and employees to make sure that everyone is safe.

Stanley R. Gorom, CEO and managing partner at Hahn Loeser & Parks, told Law360 on Thursday that the firm was still unsure whether everyone was safe.

“First and foremost, we want to determine that and then the focus is going to be on, ‘How do we help them on the personal side?’ Because that’s where the greatest devastation is going to be,” Gorom said.

Gorom thought that the law firm’s Naples and Fort Myers offices didn’t suffer storm damage because they are on the upper floors of buildings. But some lawyers who live in high-rise buildings were stranded because of flooding in their neighborhoods. Another lawyer had 2 feet of water in his home. One lawyer can’t return to his home on Sanibel Island because of the damaged bridge.

Law360 also spoke with representatives from FisherBroyles, GrayRobinson, Quarles & Brady, and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. All were contacting employees and lawyers. Some did not yet know whether their offices suffered damage.

“I’m less concerned about the office and more concerned about our families,” said Joel Ferdinand, global general counsel at FisherBroyles.

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