Richard Malafy, left, Carol Moore, Mike Papantonio, Mark Proctor and Cristina Malafy attend the conference in Las Vegas. The firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor was instrumental in directing the funds to the Keys. CONTRIBUTED

Irma money raised at attorney convention in Las Vegas

It’s tempting to lead off with a wicked combination of lawyer and gambling jokes here. But the sentiment behind the generous gift to the Florida Keys this past week rises above stereotypes. A group of 1,500 tort attorneys donated about $40,000 specifically for needs of Keys residents after Hurricane Irma.

“They care about what’s going on in the Florida Keys,” said Marathon attorney Richard Malafy of Campbell and Malafy law firm. “They reached out immediately after the storm to see what they could do to help. They asked me to speak for a few minutes at the convention so they could learn about our situation.”

Malafy singled out Mark Proctor and Mike Papantonio for their efforts.

“They and the rest of the firm care about our community. When they knew our community needed it, they selflessly offered help, asking for nothing in return,” Malafy said.

Mass Torts Made Perfect is a twice-a-year convention held in Las Vegas. Founded in 2000 by the law firm of Levin Papantonio, and currently led by the firm’s named partners Fred Levin, Mike Papantonio and Mark Proctor, in addition to Keith Givens with The National Trial Lawyers. Normally, the guest speakers are big celebrities, not small-town lawyers. Normally, the auction benefits a particular election campaign or something similar.

The convention was attended by no less than famed attorney F. Lee Bailey and basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Abdul-Jabbar stole the show, donating and then autographing basketballs that were snapped up by attendees for a cool $1,500 each, which included a grinning selfie with the athlete.

Malafy’s professional relationship with the firm relates to their work with BP claims after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.  Like that crisis, Malafy was tasked with describing the toll on the Florida Keys.

“I tried to bring to light the affordable housing crisis in our community which was only worsened by the hurricane. I believe that is going to be one of our biggest issues moving forward,” Malafy said. “We want that money to go where it’s really needed. That every dollar goes back to the Keys residents.”

A fund is being established with the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys to assist in administering these and other funds. Malafy will sit on that board.

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