Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mary Bland Love featured in Jacksonville Daily Record

"Our Legal Community Needs More Lawyers Like Mary" 

Mary Bland Love was the recipient of the 2016 Raymond Ehrlich Award, given annually to a lawyer whose career has embodied qualities to which litigators aspire. Ehrlich was a Florida Supreme Court chief justice and a role model to many. The award recognizes traits such as professionalism, discernment, thoroughness and preparedness, mentorship and a willingness to help those in need. Love is a former president of the Jacksonville chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and is the first woman trial lawyer to win the Ehrlich award. Melissa Nelson, litigation chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association, interviewed Love and shared her insights about the practice of law.

The original article was written by Melissa Nelson, Jacksonville Bar Association Litigation Section Chair and published in the Jacksonville Daily Record on March 28, 2016. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Marks Gray, P.A. hosts Mayor Curry and the Florida Hispanic Leadership Group

Local Hispanic leader and Marks Gray Shareholder, Giselle Carson, hosts roundtable discussion with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry 

Mayor Lenny Curry and Shareholder Giselle Carson with distinguished members
of the Hispanic Leadership Group in Jacksonville 

Giselle Carson was honored to host a lively roundtable discussion with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the Florida Hispanic Leadership Group of Jacksonville at the Marks Gray, P.A. office on Wednesday, March 24. The group of local leaders and Mayor Curry discussed several important issues affecting Jacksonville area Hispanic families, businesses and the community at large.

Mayor Curry addressing the room at the
roundtable discussion at Marks Gray, P.A.
This is not the first meeting of these influential leaders with Lenny Curry, however, it is their first meeting since Curry won the Mayoral race in May of 2015. The topics on the agenda at the latest gathering covered several of the biggest issues currently facing Jacksonville. Crime and community safety, pension reform and voter education were all subjects addressed. Giselle and the Hispanic leaders hope to meet quarterly with the Mayor in order to keep the lines of communication open for future discussions. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marks Gray Attorneys Receive Defense Verdict in Duval County

L. Johnson “Johnny” Sarber, III and Heath L. Vickers receive complete
defense verdict in five day Duval County jury trial in Siemer v. Seldomridge

Johnny Sarber and Heath Vickers of Marks Gray, P.A. received a complete defense verdict on January 29, 2016, following a five-day jury trial in Duval County Circuit Court.  Mr. Sarber and Mr. Vickers represented Seldomridge Body Shop, a family-owned repair shop and towing company in Hilliard, Florida, along with the founder and owner of the company. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant’s driver allowed the tow truck he was driving to drift out of his lane and strike her pickup truck head-on as she waited in an intersection to make a left turn.  Using physical evidence, expert analysis, and exposure of numerous inconsistencies in the Plaintiff's story, Mr. Sarber and Mr. Vickers successfully argued that the Defendant properly maintained his position within his lane and that the Plaintiff solely caused the accident by turning in front of the tow truck, violating the Defendant’s right of way.

The Plaintiff had two low back surgeries that she claimed were caused by the accident and sought past and future medical expenses, future lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Plaintiff's counsel, Harrell & Harrell, asked the jury to return a verdict totaling around $1.2 million.

Despite not complaining of low back pain for more than a month after the accident and despite an initial neurosurgical consult where surgery was not indicated, the Plaintiff's primary treating physician testified at trial that the Plaintiff's back pain and surgery resulted from the accident. He sent the Plaintiff to a surgeon, who performed surgery in November 2012 and March 2014 and testified by affidavit. The Plaintiff also called a radiologist and pain management physician as trial witnesses.

The Plaintiff admitted her traffic light was a green ball obligating her to yield the right of way but she maintained that she was sitting still and had not moved into the tow truck's lane at the time of impact. The defense played an audiotape recording of the Plaintiff's post-accident statement to an investigator claiming that she had a green arrow and had started to make her turn. The Defendants' accident reconstruction engineering expert demonstrated that gouge and tire marks proved that the initial point of impact was 6 feet within the tow truck driver’s lane. The Plaintiff was allowed to call two accident reconstruction experts at trial, neither of whom was able to refute the physical evidence.

Johnny Sarber
About L. Johnson “Johnny” Sarber, III.
Johnny Sarber’s practice focuses on civil trial defense, primarily in areas of transportation law including tractor-trailer, heavy truck, passenger bus, school bus and other common carrier and commercial motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and law enforcement defense. Mr. Sarber has been with Marks Gray since 1997 and now serves on the firm’s management committee. He is a member of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association (President 2011-2012), Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (current Board Director), Defense Research Institute, Trucking Industry Defense Association, and Transportation Lawyers Association, and is a founding member of the Florida Law Alliance. 

Heath Vickers
About Heath L. Vickers
Heath L.Vickers’ practice focuses on civil trial defense in the areas of transportation and trucking law, government liability, retail and premises liability, and medical liability. Mr. Vickers has been with Marks Gray since 2010. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, the Jacksonville Bar Association, the Jacksonville Association Defense Counsel and the Florida Defense Lawyers Association where he serves as Co-Chair of the Premises Liability Committee. He was named a Rising Star by Florida Super Lawyers® Magazine in 2013, 2014, and 2015. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Immigration Bulletin is Out

March 2016 Immigration Bulletin Highlights 

Hello, and Welcome to our March Immigration Update!

As an immigration attorney and two-time immigrant, I am often asked to share my thoughts on America’s immigration policies, particularly now, when immigration has been a hot-button issue on the presidential campaign trail. Regardless of your thoughts on the current immigration proposals, the issues and values surrounding immigration frame our nation and affect us all.
Successive waves of immigrants have kept our country young, enriched and innovative. Many of these immigrants give me strength and serve as an inspiration. Celebrate with me the contributions and successes of some of these remarkable people. Read more...

While celebrating inspirational people, we’d like to congratulate one of Marks Gray’s own! We are pleased to announce that Marks Gray attorney, Mary Bland Love, received the 2016 Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Award from the Jacksonville Bar Association. The Award recognizes a lawyer from the local legal community whose career has embodied those qualities to which trial lawyers aspire. Ms. Love is the first woman to ever receive the award. Read more...

To stay updated on current immigration issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog

Thank you for your readership, support and referrals.

Giselle Carson

DHS Releases New 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Rule

The new 24-month STEM OPT Extension rule is helping employers and students who are trying to secure a new H-1B visa breathe a sigh of relief as they now potentially have 3 years of opportunities for filing. However, this extension comes with new requirements that both employers and students must be prepared to fulfill. Below are some highlights of the rule:

1) OPT STEM increases from 17 to 24 months beyond the 12-month post-graduation OPT generally allowed. (Effectively providing 36 months of OPT.)
2) Students who subsequently enroll in a new academic qualifying program may now earn another 24-month STEM OPT extension.
3) The student must be employed by an E-Verify registered employer.
4) The rule will continue to provide cap-gap relief and enable students to extend their F-1 status and employment authorization until October 1 if they filed a cap-subject H-1B on time.
5) It is only available to students with qualifying STEM degrees from accredited schools.
6) The employer and student must develop formal training plans that identify the objectives to be accomplished during the OPT training period.
7) The F-1 student may only remain unemployed during the initial 12-month for up to 90 days, and the new rule allows for an additional 60 days (for a total of 150 days) for those on STEM OPT extension.

This new rule will replace the existing 2008 interim final rule, and will take effect on May 10, 2016. To stay up to date on this extension rule, visit our blog

H-1B Visa Season Fast Approaching

On April 1, 2016, the new H-1B season begins, which means employers can file petitions for professional foreign workers with bachelor’s degrees or equivalent experience.

This year, the demand for new H-1B visas is again expected to be high and the cap is likely to be met. Employers have the first five days following the opening of filing to file their petitions. If you are considering filing a new H-1B petition, please contact us immediately as the timeline is very short and there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done prior to filing.

Proposed Elimination of the 90 Day EAD Adjudication

One of the most concerning proposals of USCIS’ “improvements” affecting high-skilled immigrant workers is the removal of the 90-day time frame for USCIS to adjudicate an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Instead, USCIS proposes to allow for automatic extension of EAD’s in some limited cases as outlined below.

The proposal provides for the automatic extension of employment authorization for 180 days for certain categories so long as the I-765 application is for the same employment authorization category; the application is filed before the expiration of the EAD; the applicant remains eligible for employment authorization after the expiration of the current EAD; and the employment authorization is not dependent on any other approval/process.

This extension will only be available to 15 categories of employment authorization, including adjustment of status applicants.  However, this extension will not be available to the employment authorized dependent spouse categories, such as H-4, L-2, and E-2/-1.

The comment period for this proposal ended February 29, 2016. USCIS is expected to have received a significant amount of comments which it needs to evaluate. We will continue to follow this proposal and provide updates.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability Memo Provides New Clarity for Professional Athletes and other Qualified Fields

USCIS issued a memo to clarify and expand when an employer may submit comparable evidence for the O-1A Extraordinary Ability work visa. This visa classification is used to provide work authorization to highly qualified individuals in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, among other fields.

Before this memo, an employer had to prove that none of the other O-1 qualifying criteria was applicable before the employer could submit "alternative or comparable evidence." Under this memo, the employer "must only show that a particular criterion does not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation" before the employer can offer comparable evidence. The employer will not be required to show that all or a majority of the criteria does not apply before comparable evidence may be considered.  However, the employer will need to explain why a criterion does not apply and why alternative evidence is comparable. This clarification will allow professional athletes to have greater flexibility in satisfying the O-1 visa criteria. 

For more information on the visa options for Pro Athletes and other highly skilled professionals, check out our blog.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Further Restrictions

The VWP is used by nationals from 38 qualifying countries to travel to the U.S. visa free using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). In 2014, about 20 million people visited the U.S. using the VWP.

However, in mid-February, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is continuing to make changes restricting the use of the VWP.

The new changes restrict the travel of dual nationals who are citizens of both a VWP country and nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. These individuals will no longer be able to travel to the U.S. using ESTA and will have to apply for a visa at a consular post abroad before traveling to the U.S.

This new rule will also apply to individuals of a VWP country who have traveled to or been present in these seven countries on or after March 1, 2011. 

To see the full newsletter, visit our Immigration News Page

To subscribe to the newsletter, please email with the subject line "Subscribe to Immigration Bulletin." 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Jacksonville Bar Bulletin: Learning Lessons from those who inspire you

Who inspires you? Marks Gray Shareholder and Jacksonville Bar Association President, Giselle Carson talks about her inspirations in her March 2016 Bar Bulletin. On stands now

JBA President, Giselle Carson

As an immigration attorney and two-time immigrant, I am often asked what I think about our immigration process, particularly now, when immigration has been at the forefront of the presidential election. This is an important issue, which is beyond what I can cover in this short article. 

However, whether you are for or against the immigration proposals, the issues and values surrounding immigration frame our nation and affect us all. Successive waves of immigrants have kept our country young, enriched and innovative. Many of these immigrants give me strength and serve as an inspiration.   

Celebrate with me the contributions and successes of some of these remarkable people: 

Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright – Albright was born in 1937, in Czechoslovakia. After the Soviets took over her country, Albright and her family defected to the U.S. She studied at Wellesley College, got married after graduation and had twin girls. Over the next 15 years, she completed her Ph. D., raised her daughters and volunteered in political campaigns. At age 39, she pursued her career, starting at entry-level positions. She entered politics at the urging of a former professor. In 1993, she became the American ambassador to the United Nations, and later was the first woman appointed Secretary of State. This bright and remarkable politician and diplomat of petite stature is my inspiration to think big, do big and always look up!   

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein – Einstein was born in 1879, in Germany. He was a genius and inquisitive philosopher. As a young scientist, non-one believed in his abilities – his teachers rejected them and his classmates made fun of him. Thankfully, he pursued his talents and today he is known as the Father of Modern Physics. He immigrated to the U.S. after being targeted by the Nazis. I use some of his quotes to guide my life.  Some of my favorites are: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” and “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn – Actress, fashion icon and philanthropist, Hepburn, was born in 1929, in Belgium. She lived through the hardships and fears of WWII, under the Nazi occupation. In 1951, she came to the U.S. to pursue her career as an artist and won an Academy Award for her first American-made movie, "Roman Holiday."  She is one of the very few who can be described with the rare term EGOT – as a winner of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. She retired from acting and placed her vibrancy, elegance and grace to work on behalf of children.   

Shad Khan
Shad Khan – Khan was born in 1950, in Pakistan.  He came to the U.S. at the age of 16 and worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois.   He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and went on to revolutionize the car industry with the creation of a one-piece truck bumper, which became the basis for his ongoing achievements. He is the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and many other very successful businesses. I am inspired by his vision, innovations and leadership. He and his wife, Ann, have donated millions of dollars to the Jacksonville community through the Jaguars Foundation.

Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi
Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi – Meb was born in 1975, in Eritrea. Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest runners of our time, Meb brings a higher meaning to “going the distance.” From his arrival in America, as a refugee from war-torn East Africa, to his victorious finish at the emotionally-charged 2014 Boston Marathon, he has secured not only his place in history, but also in the hearts and minds of millions. Meb is the only athlete in history to win the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon and an Olympic Medal. A graduate of UCLA, his record also includes four NCAA championships, 22 National Championships and a place on three United States Olympic teams. As I train for the upcoming Boston Marathon, I think of Meb.  

Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi – Nooyi came from conservative Chennai, India, in 1955 to pursue higher education in the U.S. She went to school during the day and worked as a receptionist at night to make some money. After she completed her Master’s degree, she was rejected from her first professional job interview. When she sought advice as to what to do differently next time, she was told “be yourself.”  She has followed this advice ever since. By working hard, deriving strength from her traditions and being herself, she has become one of the most influential women in the world. She is the CEO of PepsiCo and in 2015, was ranked 15 on Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is my inspiration for determination, being yourself and having the best team around you. 

These are just a few influential and inspiring immigrants who have come to America and aided in strengthening our communities, our economy and our country’s future.

Who serves as your inspiration?

Originally published on March 7, 2016 by Giselle Carson. Ms. Carson is a Shareholder at Marks Gray who primarily practices in the areas of U.S. and Global Immigration Law. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Marks Gray, P.A. ranked among 2016 "Best Law Firms"

Marks Gray, P.A. has been named a "Best Law Firm" in multiple practice areas by U.S. News - Best Lawyers® in 2016

Marks Gray, P.A., has been recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” 2016 rankings. Marks Gray is ranked regionally in eight practice areas.

“As one of Jacksonville’s oldest law firms, we take great pride in our partnerships with our clients and providing them access to the most experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel,” said Marks Gray President, Jerry Weedon. “It’s an honor to be once again included in this prestigious list and acknowledged for our hard work, dedication, and experience.”

Firms included in the 2016 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for its abilities, its professionalism and its integrity.

Marks Gray received the following rankings in the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers®
 "Best Law Firms":

Metropolitan Tier 1

  • Medical Malpractice Law - Defendants 
  • Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants 
  • Product Liability Litigation - Defendants 

Metropolitan Tier 2

  • Employment Law - Management
  • Real Estate Law

Metropolitan Tier 3

  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Commercial and Litigation 
  • Employment Law - Individuals 

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer listed in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© list for that particular location and specialty.

U.S. News & World Report is a digital news information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affection their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Personal Finance, Travel, Cars and News & Opinion, provides consumer advice, rankings, news and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. 30 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, DC.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mary Bland Love Receives 2016 Justice Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Award

Mary Bland Love of Marks Gray, P.A. receives recognition from Jacksonville Bar Association; becomes first woman to win Justice Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Award 

Mary Bland Love, center, receives the 2016 Justice Raymond Ehrlich 
Trial Advocacy Award at the Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA) 
Annual seminar on February 25, 2016. Presenting the award is 
Melissa Nelson, JBA Litigation Section and Seminar and Selection 
Committee Chair, left, and JBA President Giselle Carson.

Marks Gray, P.A. attorney Mary Bland Love received the 2016 Justice Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Award at the Jacksonville Bar Association’s annual Justice Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Seminar held on February 25 at the Wells Fargo Auditorium. The Justice Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Award recognizes a lawyer from the local legal community whose career has embodied those qualities to which trial lawyers aspire. This honor has been presented to many local attorneys, but Ms. Love is the first woman to ever receive the award.

The Award committee evaluates applicants based on the qualities that made Florida Supreme Court Justice Ehrlich a legal role model including professionalism, steadfast obedience to ethics, discernment, mentorship and willingness to help those in need. Ms. Love was nominated by a team of peers for her exemplary commitment to these ideals. Throughout her career Ms. Love has continually demonstrated the highest ethical and professional standards while also generously giving back to the Jacksonville community through various philanthropic endeavors.

Mary Bland Love graduated from the University Of Virginia   School Of Law in 1978. She served as an associate attorney and ultimately partner at the Mathews, Osborne, Ehrlich, McNatt, Gobelman & Cobb law firm from 1978-1988. She then co-founded the law firm of Gobelman and Love in 1988. She has served as Of Counsel at Marks Gray, P.A. since 2011.

Congratulations, Ms. Love! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Marks Gray Elects Four New Shareholders for 2016

Meagan L. Logan, Jill F. Bechtold, Michael D. Kendall and Crystal T. Broughan
elected as newest Shareholders at Marks Gray, P.A.

Marks Gray, P.A. is pleased to announce four new shareholders; Meagan L. Logan, Jill F. Bechtold, Michael D. Kendall, and Crystal T. Broughan. Each attorney has underscored the firm’s capabilities in insurance and professional liability litigation, in addition to its growing intellectual property practice.

“These attorneys have achieved outstanding results for our clients and have differentiated themselves as leaders,” said firm Chair Gerald Weedon. “Their practices support the firm’s core mission of integrity and superior service to our clients. They’re an important part of Marks Gray’s continued success and exciting future.”

Meagan L. Logan 
Meagan L. Logan handles matters involving municipal liability, civil rights, appellate litigation, and general liability defense. She is a Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent rated attorney, and a skilled defender with experience managing multi-defendant litigation matters. Ms. Logan represents municipalities, public and private business organizations, and corporate entities. She is licensed to practice throughout the state of Florida, including the U.S. District Court for the Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit, Georgia State, and Superior Courts, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, as well as the Georgia Court of Appeals. She is also a member of the Florida Bar Association, the Georgia Bar Association, Jacksonville Bar Association, the Florida Defense Lawyers Association (FDLA), and the Jacksonville Association of Defense Counsel (JADC). Additionally, she has been selected as a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2010 – 2016. Ms. Logan earned her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2005, and joined Marks Gray in 2008. She can be reached at

Jill F. Bechtold
Jill F. Bechtold practices in the areas of medical and professional liability defense, products liability and general civil litigation defense. She has been recognized as a top lawyer by Florida Super Lawyer and Florida Trend magazines, has an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a member of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), Chester Bedell Inn of Court, and the Florida Defense Lawyers Association.  Ms. Bechtold represents both individual and enterprise clients. She is a member of the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2015 as well as a Jacksonville Business Journal 2015 Woman of Influence. She also serves the community as the President of the Board for Girl’s Inc. of Jacksonville. Ms. Bechtold earned her law degree from the University of Florida and joined Marks Gray in 2013. She speaks nation-wide before defense lawyers on the Reptile Strategy and related topics. She can be reached at

Michael D. Kendall
Michael D. Kendall is the Chair of the workers’ compensation practice area and has been practicing law since 2000. His work focuses primarily on representing insurance carriers and employers in Workers’ Compensation matters.  He counsels insurance companies, hospitals, government entities, and individuals in all aspects of civil litigation. Mr. Kendall has served as adjunct professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, Judicial Staff Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, and past President of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville. Today, he still has significant influence with the charity as a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Kendall is a 2000 cum laude graduate from the University of Dayton School Of Law. He is a top rated civil litigation attorney and was selected as a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2010-2015. He can be reached at

Crystal T. Broughan 
Crystal T. Broughan leads the Intellectual Property Law practice, handling complex matters in trademark, trade secret, and copyright legal advocacy to clients ranging from start-ups to international corporations.  She represents clients before the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as managing infringement litigation for all types of intellectual property matters in federal and state courts. An AV rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell, Ms. Broughan is a member of the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Law Firm Committee and the former chair of the Jacksonville Bar Associations Franchise Intellectual Property and Technology Law Committee.  In addition, she manages insurance fraud investigations and litigation on behalf of the special investigation units for insurance companies.  During her more than 25 years of practice, she served as the Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor in Jacksonville for the Florida Office of the Attorney General and as an Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.  In 2012, she was awarded the Insurance Lawyer of the Year award by the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC).  She is a Master in the Chester Bedell Inn of Court, a member of the Jacksonville Women’s Network, a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville, Class of 2010 and Leadership Orlando, Class of 1984.  Ms. Broughan graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 1990.  She can be reached at