Current Investigations & Cases
Sam J. Smith
Sam J. Smith practices complex class, collective action, and multiparty litigation in the fields of wage and hour law, employment discrimination and civil rights. Sam is a Florida native, born in Miami in 1959. He obtained his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida, summa cum laude, in 1986, and earned his law degree from Florida State University, summa cum laude, in 1989. At FSU Law School , Sam was the Executive Writing Editor for the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
Martindale-Hubbell has assigned Sam its "AV" rating, indicating very high to preeminent legal ability and very high ethical standards as established by the confidential opinions of members of the Bar. Sam has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the publications of Best Lawyers in America in the field of Labor and Employment Law since 2009. Sam has been designated by his peers as a Super Lawyer since 2008. In 2010, Sam was identified as a Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend Magazine, and was selected by Tampa Bay Magazine Top Lawyer List since 2010. He has received an award for Outstanding Service in Public Accommodations law from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and a Foot Soldiers’ Award from the NAACP for his advocacy on behalf of African Americans. Sam has been recognized by Trial Lawyers Doing Public Justice for contributions to a race discrimination class action. Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year” – Tampa, Employment Law – Individuals, in 2012 by Best Lawyers in America for the Specialty of Labor and Employment Law.
Before joining Charles Burr in practice, Sam practiced law at the Law Office of Thomas A. Warren in Tallahassee, Florida, where he represented employees in Haynes v. Shoney's Inc., No. 89-30093-RV (N.D. Fla. 1993), a race discrimination class action filed in Pensacola, Florida. The Shoney's class action plaintiffs obtained a recovery of $132.5 million, one of the largest monetary recoveries ever awarded in a Title VII case as of that date. Sam also teamed with co-counsel to obtain class certification for more than 160,000 female current and former employees of Publix Super Markets suing for discrimination against female employees in various job benefits, including promotions, allocation of hours, job assignments, job advancement, pay and employment opportunities. In 1997, the court approved Publix' settlement of the case for $81.5 million in monetary relief and extensive injunctive relief. Sam has also litigated and resolved numerous multimillion dollar Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act equal pay and overtime pay collective action suits. He sued the Adam's Mark Hotel on behalf of individuals who experienced discriminatory treatment while attending their Black College Reunion, resulting in a settlement of $2.1 million, $600,000.00 of which was earmarked for black colleges in Florida. His efforts on behalf of the plaintiffs in Adam's Mark earned Burr & Smith, L.L.P. the award for Outstanding Service in Public Accommodations law from the Washington Lawyers' Committee on Civil and Urban Rights.
Sam served on the Board of Editors of the Second Edition of The Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise and drafted and edited Chapter 19, Collective Actions, and edited Chapter 20 Hybrid Class Actions, and is the past Florida Chapter Editor of Wage and Hour Laws, A State-by-State Survey. He is a Past Plaintiff-Employee Co-Chair of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee of the Section of Labor and Employment Law of the American Bar Association, an ABA FLSA Subcommittee Chair and the Legislative Liaison for the Wage & Hour Committee of the National Association of Employment Lawyers. Sam was the Associate Editor of the Supplements to The Fair Labor Standards Act (Gallagher, Ed.-In-chief); and an Author of Chapter 23, "Employment Agencies" in an update to Employment Discrimination Law (Weirich & Dardarian, Editors-in-Chief). In May 2009, Sam and his former law partner Marguerite Longoria published an article on overtime protections for drivers of light-weight vehicles in the Florida Bar Journal. Sam regularly makes presentations to attorneys nationwide on the FLSA and Florida wage & hour law.
Sam also has significant appellate experience and has argued precedent setting cases before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, including, Polycarpe v. E & S Landscaping, Inc., 616 F.3d 1217 (11th Cir. 2010) (reversed five summary judgment orders and established broad interpretation of enterprise coverage under the FLSA); and Bailey, et al. v. Gulf Coast Transportation, et al., 280 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2002) (established right to injunctive relief in FLSA retaliation cases).
Loren B. Donnell
Loren Bolno Donnell is a partner of the firm who has represented employees in class and collective actions for more than ten years. Loren has been appointed class counsel to represent classes of thousands of workers in wage and hour actions and is among class counsel for 44,000 women in a gender discrimination action pending in arbitration, Jock v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.
Actively involved in wage and hour publications, Loren has been a contributing author and editor to supplements for The Fair Labor Standards Act treatise (Ellen C. Kearns), a contributing author to the Second Edition of The Fair Labor Standards Act treatise, and a contributing author and editor to cumulative supplements for the Wage and Hour Laws: A State-by-State Survey treatise (Gregory K. McGillivary). Loren was President to the Florida Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association (2010-2011) and has been a member of its Executive Board since 2008. Her other memberships include National Employment Lawyers Association, Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers, and the Florida Bar Labor & Employment Section.
Loren is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she obtained a degree in Decision and Information Sciences, with honors; and a graduate of Stetson University College of Law, cum laude, where she was a member of the Stetson Law Review and teaching assistant for Legal Research and Writing. She lives in Tampa with her artist husband and two boys.
Tamra C. Givens
Tamra C. Givens’ legal practice is focused on class and collective employment litigation and consumer class actions. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Florida, with honors, in 2000, and earned her law degree from the University of Florida, cum laude, in 2003. During law school, Tamra was a member of the Florida Law Review and published a case comment titled “Constitutional Law: Narrowing the Scope of the Fourth Amendment,” 54 Fla. L. Rev. 567 (2002). Tamra also completed an internship at the Florida Supreme Court where she served as an intern to Justice Harry Lee Anstead.
Tamra has dedicated her career to representing employees and consumers in class litigation. Tamra began her career as an associate of James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich, P.A., where she focused her practice on consumer class action litigation. Prior to joining Burr & Smith, LLP, Tamra practiced in Morgan & Morgan’s Complex Litigation Department, where she played an instrumental role in building Morgan & Morgan’s class action section. Among her notable cases, Tamra served as class counsel in Dyer v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in which she helped recover approximately $15 million in unpaid commissions for a nationwide class of home mortgage employees. Tamra is a former law clerk to the Honorable James D. Whittemore, United States District Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
In addition to being admitted to practice in the state courts of Florida, Tamra is also admitted to practice in federal courts in the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Florida, District of Colorado, and the Third, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal.
Rachael L. Wood
Rachael Wood recently joined Burr & Smith LLP. Prior to coming to Burr & Smith, LLP she had extensive experience representing plaintiffs in wage and hour, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other employment related claims. She also comes to Burr & Smith with trial and arbitration experience having tried jury cases in both federal and state court. Rachael graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002, and a Masters in Criminology from the University of South Florida in 2004. She graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2007. At Stetson, she participated in both Law Review and its nationally recognized Trial Team. Upon graduation, she was honored by receiving the Edward D. Foreman Most Distinguished Student Award. Rachael has also taught Civil Litigation as an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College. Rachael grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and is a supporter of the arts.
The goal of each lawyer at Burr & Smith, L.L.P. is to positively impact the lives of as many people as possible by offering proficient and focused legal representation of the highest quality. We believe we can best accomplish this goal by representing plaintiffs who are suing on behalf of themselves and all others who have experienced similar violations of their rights. This is why our attorneys focus on complex public interest class action litigation, collective and multi-party actions.
In order to ensure that the attorneys can devote the necessary time and attention to accomplish this goal, they engage in intensive research and investigation before accepting any case, and strictly limit the number and types of cases they accept. Each attorney at Burr & Smith, L.L.P. has demonstrated a commitment to promoting employee rights and civil rights through membership and participation in various organizations and activities, including the National Employment Lawyers Association and its Florida affiliate chapter and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
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