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Miami Firms on Offense to Serve Elusive Defendant: The Ward Law Group’s Clever Tactics Secure Victory. 

November 14, 2023 | Jany Martinez Ward
Miami Firms on Offense to Serve Elusive Defendant: The Ward Law Group’s Clever Tactics Secure Victory. 

A mention in the LAW.COM portal for the Daily Business Review in Miami highlighted the work done by The Ward Law Group in pursuit of justice. 

In the legal arena, victory often hinges on strategy, creativity, and, in some cases, the ability to track down an elusive defendant.  

A recent case involving NFL free agent Antonio Brown proved to be a test of wit and determination for a team of Miami attorneys, including Michael Lotto of The Ward Law Group. Despite facing challenges in locating Brown, the legal team's ingenuity and resourcefulness resulted in a significant $1.2 million Broward County jury verdict in favor of the victim. 

The lawsuit, filed by Anton Tumanov in May 2021, stemmed from an incident in February 2020 at Brown's home in Broward County, Florida. The plaintiff accused Brown of assaulting a truck driver hired to move the player's belongings from California back to Florida after being released by his team. 

One of the hurdles in the case was the difficulty in serving Antonio Brown. Known for his public presence on social media, Brown proved elusive when it came to legal matters. Michael Lotto, a plaintiff counsel at The Ward Law Group, explained, "The interesting part is that Antonio Brown is very public on social media but very hard to find to get served." 

To overcome this challenge, the legal team employed creative tactics. They enlisted the help of a process server in Georgia, who managed to track down Brown and capture video footage of him being served. The 35-second video clip was crucial in securing a default judgment against Brown, allowing the case to proceed to trial. 

Lotto emphasized the significance of the video evidence: "So, in a way, it was quite an easy win, but you had to find him and get that video to make it an easy win." The video, showing Brown receiving the legal papers and tossing them on the ground, provided indisputable proof of the defendant being served. 

During the trial, the legal team presented the video to the jury, explaining why Brown was not physically present in court. The footage depicted the process server approaching Brown in a parking lot while fans and an entourage surrounded the athlete. 

"When you have evasive defendants, you need to get creative," Lotto commented. "Typically, we effectuate service by simply knocking on the door, the defendant answers, and we serve them. But when someone knows you are attempting to serve them and wish to avoid your service, they will simply pretend they aren’t home." 

The jury's decision, delivered in October 2022, awarded $1.2 million to Anton Tumanov. The verdict included $407,000 for medical expenses and $793,000 for past and future pain and suffering. Despite Brown filing a Notice of Appeal, the attempt was seemingly abandoned after his attorney withdrew from the case. 

Lotto revealed, "Given that there is no appeal, we are continuing our efforts to collect against Mr. Brown." The legal team's commitment to pursuing justice extends beyond the courtroom, ensuring that their client receives the compensation rightfully awarded to them. 

While the Antonio Brown case remains ongoing, The Ward Law Group celebrated another triumph with the announcement of a successful $100 million settlement for one of the firm's other clients in December. The terms of the settlement and client details remain confidential in accordance with a court order. 

In the complex landscape of legal battles, The Ward Law Group stands as a beacon of diligence, innovation, and unwavering commitment to securing justice for its clients. 

Jany Martinez Ward Author Image
Jany Martinez Ward

Jany Martínez-Ward is a Founding and Managing Partner of The Ward Law Group, PL, a Florida law firm representing victims of car accidents. She focuses her practice on providing legal representation to Hispanic clients that have become injured in a car accident as a result of the negligence of others. In 2018, The National Trial Lawyers Association recognized Jany as one of the top attorneys in the state and among the top 40 under 40 attorneys.


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