Since its founding in 1955 in Clearwater, Florida, Perenich & Carroll (now Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes) has represented only the victims of accidents. The focus on the rights of victims by the founding partners, Guy Perenich (my Father) and Frank Muscarella, was unique in the relatively small Clearwater community. It occurred because Guy had worked as an insurance claims adjustor and knew the interests of victims desperately needed specialized representation. He and Frank dedicated themselves to mastering the knowledge and skills required to understand the medical and other consequences of injuries in addition to becoming experts in trial presentations.
The small firm grew and moved to larger quarters in the original firehouse of the community. The entire second floor of the building was devoted to a library and exhibit storage. It was no ordinary law facility, however. It featured numerous medical texts, rehabilitation manuals, workplace safety rules, x-ray view boxes, a model skeleton, medical illustrations, roadway mockups, and other materials essential to the representation of injured victims.
The traditionally quiet courtrooms of the Tampa Bay area of Florida became the second home of the partners, who became known as ‘Muskrat and Polecat’ because of their skill and tenacity before a jury. Juries were shown large blowups of important evidence; they were given expert testimony from economists; they heard dramatic closing arguments on behalf of victims. In these and other ways, the firm demonstrated an ability to obtain significant jury verdicts even in difficult circumstances.
The preparation and trial skills of the partners made the negotiation process more successful than had traditionally been the case with insurance companies. Companies received fully documented settlement packets and faced hard-nosed negotiations and knew that a persuasive trial presentation would be made if negotiations failed. The ratio of settlements to jury trials began to rise, a situation that saved costs and produced higher net recoveries to victims. Yet, there were the cases that had to be tried in the best interests of the victim; the firm was ready, willing and able to go all the way to a verdict.
Successful litigation against vehicle manufacturers, such as General Motors Corporation and Volkswagen, hospitals, the U.S. Government, and other wrongdoers, coupled with a dedication to the needs of victims fueled the growth of the firm. A strong emphasis on community service has paralleled that growth. This emphasis resulted in the creation of the public service television program, FLA LAW in 1988, which provides four hours of free live, call-in, legal information each week.
Over the years, the firm has grown to seven attorneys and five locations that serve the Tampa Bay area and the West Coast of Florida. These offices are located in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, New Port Richey, and Spring Hill, Florida. The dedication to victims that was present at the founding remains the commitment of the firm. Although the firm aggressively seeks to achieve just compensation through the negotiation and mediation processes, it is still fully prepared to stand before a jury and speak for its victim-client in a voice backed by experience and preparation.
The attorneys and staff members continue to seek new and persuasive tools to better convey the losses experienced and achieve maximum compensation. Obviously, computer technology and, especially, its multimedia capabilities provide dramatic opportunities in the development of claims and their presentation as well as in communications with clients and the public.