Practicing Law With a Passion for the Rights of the Individual

Twenty-five years ago, lawyers with Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. started out with one small office in Tampa. Since those early days in Tampa, Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. has grown to ten offices across the country -- from Tampa Bay all the way to California.

Over the years, Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. lawyers have been hailed as "pioneers" of nursing home abuse and neglect litigation. In fact, the National Law Journal has featured Tampa-based Wilkes & McHugh P.A.'s nursing home abuse and neglect litigation practice in its "Plaintiffs' Hot List."

Below you will find the various profiles and features that have been written about Wilkes & McHugh, P.A., our lawyers, and our experience with nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

(02/11/2011 Gulf Coast Business Review) By: Carl Cronan

Over the last 26 years, Jim Wilkes has built a reputation as a vanguard against nursing home abuse and neglect. It's a job he would rather not do, but he vows to do it for as long as he is able.

Read More
(01/01/2011 Long Term Living Magazine)

If any one individual can be described as a “holy terror” for nursing home administrators everywhere, it is attorney Jim Wilkes. He has fosued on negligent resident care, often manifested by life-threatening pressure ulcers, falls, fractures, and assaults due primarily to alleged understaffing by large for-profit chains.

Read More
(07/05/2007 The Legal Intelligencer) By: Stephanie Lovett

Philadelphia juries returned plaintiffs verdicts for about a half-million dollars each - both times within 90 minutes of beginning deliberations. Wilkes & McHugh attorneys Tammera R. Harrelson and Brian L. Strauss initiated both cases, which alleged abuse and neglect.

Read More
(06/01/2007 Super Lawyers Magazine)

Super Lawyers identifies the top 5 percent of attorneys in each state, as chosen by their peers and through the independent research of Law & Politics.

Read More
(05/29/2007 ) By: University of California San Francisco News Office

The majority of the nation’s elderly and disabled in nursing homes remain in situations where staffing is well below national recommendations for safe care, the study found. While no states have ideal nursing levels, those states with higher Medicaid reimbursements or higher mandated nursing levels have come closer to meeting the recommendations.

Read More
(05/21/2007 ) By: University of Michigan School of Health

Research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health suggests that one of the strengths of a nursing home chain---the ability to standardize and perfect administrative practices throughout the chain---also can hurt patient care.

Read More
(12/01/2006 Reader's Digest) By: Andrea Billups and Fran Lostys

His family didn't know the truth of his terrible demise at the Beverly Health and Rehabilitation nursing home in Frankfort until weeks after he'd been buried. Daughter Jan Richards was at a church service when a man in front of her, who drove the city's handicapped van and had transported local nursing home residents, turned around to offer his condolences. It was so sad, he said, that her father had to die "suffering like that and nothing was done for him."

Read More
(10/01/2006 )

The award was given by the oldest resident advocacy group in the country; the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) at its annual convention in Washington, D.C. this year.

Read More
(08/01/2006 The Best Lawyers in America®)

The Best Lawyers lists, representing 80 specialties in all 50 states and Washington, DC, are compiled through an exhaustive peer-review survey in which thousands of the top lawyers in the U.S. confidentially evaluate their professional peers.

Read More
(07/01/2006 Florida Trend Magazine)

A prestigious group, the 1,031 Legal Elite attorneys comprise 1.8 percent of the 57,968 Florida Bar members who practice in the state. Sixty-five percent of this year’s honorees are repeat winners, having been named to the Legal Elite at least once since 2004.

Read More
(05/05/2006 Lexington Herald-Leader) By: Greg Kocher

This case reaffirms that the state and families "need to be paying attention to the care, particularly when it comes to staffing of front-line caregivers."

Read More
(11/12/2005 Excerpt From Award Announcement)

This verdict will make both the defendants and other nursing homes stand up and take notice, hopefully encouraging them to follow the law on staffing and care so that this type of tragedy can be avoided.

Read More
(10/20/2005 Gulf Coast Business Review) By: Janet Leiser

There's no doubt that win added to Lazzara's reputation as one of Tampa's legendary criminal defense lawyers. It's part of the reason why Lyann Goudie, a top lawyer herself, joked recently she'd give her right arm to work with Lazzara.

Read More
(09/06/2004 New Jersey Law Journal) By: Charles Toutant

There's also foreign competition. Wilkes & McHugh, a Florida firm known for some large verdicts in nursing home litigation, has set its sights on New Jersey.

Read More
(08/16/2004 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) By: Leroy Donald

"Groundbreaking litigation developed in the 1980s and 1990s by the partners at Wilkes & McHugh has carved out a niche and a name for itself. ...It has pioneered use of... residents’ rights law to sue for neglect, as a separate cause of action beyond simple negligence."

Read More
(08/09/2004 Mississippi Business Journal) By: Lynne Jeter

Last month, the National Law Journal listed Wilkes & McHugh, P.A., a pioneer in filing nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits, as one of the top 20 plaintiff’s firms in the nation, primarily because of the $23.5 million in Mississippi courtroom verdicts in the last two years.

Read More
(08/05/2004 Arkansas Times)

Wilkes & McHugh’s selection was based in part on work done in Arkansas. The firm, which specializes in nursing homes, won a $78 million verdict in 2001 against Advocat, a national chain with a nursing home in Mena.

Read More
(08/02/2004 Talk Business Online)

A Journal profile of Wilkes & McHugh, which is known for its representation of nursing home residents, shows that the firm earned a total of $64 million in verdicts in the past two years with 60 attorneys in seven states, including 12 attorneys in its Little Rock office.

Read More
(07/31/2004 Torrance Daily Breeze)

The firm has been so successful securing high-dollar verdicts and settlements because of its aggressive investigative methods.

Read More
(07/30/2004 Benton County Daily Record)

In one of three accompanying features, the Journal profiles Wilkes & McHugh, P.A.. As a law firm known for its advocacy for nursing home residents.

Read More
(07/29/2004 Arkansas Business Journal )

“Its success has been noticed by other firms, which have followed its lead.”

Read More
(07/26/2004 Hattiesburg American)
(07/26/2004 Memphis Business Journal)

Wilkes & McHugh is featured in the just-released National Law Journal’s "Plaintiff’s Hot List" as one of the 20 firms that have done "exemplary" work during the past year.

Read More
(07/26/2004 National Law Journal) By: Dee McAree

The trend started when firms like Tampa, Fla.'s Wilkes & McHugh began taking on for-profit nursing homes in abuse and neglect cases and winning big verdicts.

Read More
(07/24/2004 St. Petersburg Times) By: Scott Barancik

Clients - and trial lawyer peers - call it a heaven-sent bunch that has scared nursing homes into providing better care.

Read More
(01/19/2004 Tampa Tribune) By: Mike Salinero

Sweeping nursing home reforms passed in 2001 appear to have reduced the number of lawsuits being filed against Florida elder-care facilities. That's the conclusion drawn by Wilkes & McHugh, a Tampa-based law firm prominent in the nursing home field, after looking at lawsuit data in 32 Florida counties.

Read More
(07/07/2003 Arkansas Business Journal) By: Gwen Mortiz

Andy McCumber of Tampa, Fla., has faced the Wilkes & McHugh law firm as much as any lawyer in the firm's home state, and he thought he knew the founder Jim Wilkes — business plan pretty well.

Read More
(05/16/2003 Arkansas Times) By: Doug Smith

Naturally enough, Reddick repeats arguments made by James Wilkes, a founder of W&M, that "Abuse and fraud are rampant throughout the for-profit nursing home industry," that the for-profit system hasn't worked and should be replaced with something else. But what?

Read More
(06/10/2002 Arkansas Business Journal) By: Gwen Moritz

“The spark that fired the explosion” of nursing home defense, [Roger] Glasgow said, was the arrival in Arkansas of Wilkes & McHugh. It is a Tampa, Fla., firm whose founding partner, Jim Wilkes, pioneered a highly successful model for negligence cases against nursing homes and an aggressive advertising campaign for locating potential plaintiffs. Other firms, from inside and outside the state, have followed Wilkes & McHugh’s lead.

Read More
(12/07/2001 Arkansas Times) By: Doug Smith

Waiting with [Danny] Thrailkill were Brian Reddick of Little Rock and Bennie Lazzara of Tampa, Fla. The three represented the sons of the late Mrs. Sauer in a lawsuit against the Mena nursing home where she'd been a patient, and against the home's out-of-state corporate owners. The jury was out less than three hours. After two, Lazzara announced, "They're on our time now." Were they ever. On June 22, the jury returned a $78,425,000 verdict for the plaintiffs, the largest judgment in Arkansas history.

Read More
(12/07/2001 Arkansas Times) By: Doug Smith

Angel or Anti-Christ? Neither, really. Jim Wilkes is just a lawyer who has found a way to achieve great financial reward through use of the justice system. Wilkes’ way is to sue nursing homes, which gives him an angelic cast in the eyes of plaintiffs and makes him rather a demon to defendants. Pictures of Wilkes are shown at nursing home conventions; Know your enemy.

Read More
(11/01/2001 British Student Medical Journal) By: Andrew Papanikitas

With highway billboards and a multistate team of about 50 lawyers, Jim Wilkes and Tim McHugh own the Wilkes and McHugh law firm. The firm has in the last decade exploded out of Florida in pursuit of plaintiffs' complaints against nursing homes. The nursing home industry has described Jim Wilkes as evil, Beelzebub, and the antichrist. The director of the Alabama Nursing Home Association called him "a migratory predator."

Read More
(08/17/2001 The Meridian Star) By: Suzanne Monk

Jim Wilkes is a founding partner of Wilkes & McHugh, headquartered in Tampa, Fla. The firm specializes in nursing home abuse cases, with clients in 12 states and multi-million dollar awards over the last decade in Florida, Arkansas and California. The firm made history in Arkansas in June with a record $78.43 million award involving a nursing home patient who died of dehydration.

Read More
(08/01/2001 Mississippi Medical News) By: Sharon H. Fitzgerald

With an office in Memphis, Tenn., plans for an office soon in Jackson, Miss., and offices in Florida, Texas, Arkansas and California, the law firm of Wilkes & McHugh is fanning out, much to the chagrin of the nursing-home industry in those states and others. Wilkes & McHugh sues nursing homes — and is very good at it.

Read More
(06/15/2001 Memphis Business Journal) By: Scott Shepard

Tennessee's nursing homes are in the cross-hairs of a Florida law firm that has single-handedly created a new industry: personal injury lawsuits against nursing homes. Starting in Florida and then advancing through Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and now Tennessee and California, the Tampa-based firm of Wilkes & McHugh has been compared by critics to the Borg, a sci-fi race that consumes everything in its path and then moves on.

Read More
(06/01/2001 Florida Trend Magazine) By: Cynthia Barnett

Presenting facts on bedsores and soiled sheets, malnutrition, falls and worse, Wilkes and his Tampa law firm, Wilkes & McHugh, have gotten rich suing nursing homes for neglect. The firm, which collects an average of 40% of damages, won four of the biggest verdicts ever reached against Florida homes, including $15 million against Tampa's Brian Center for allowing a Korean War veteran to die of starvation and $20 million against St. Petersburg's Colonial Care Center for not feeding a man for a month and not treating his wounds, which developed gangrene.

Read More
(05/11/2001 Religion and Ethics Newsweekly) By: Lucky Severson

SEVERSON: Jim Wilkes is not prone to understatement, but he has made a living, actually, he's made a fortune, taking Florida nursing homes to court and winning.

WILKES: We have proven over and over and over and over again conditions that are criminal. And I've got a thousand cases pending like that right now.

Read More
(04/23/2001 The National Law Journal) By: Margaret Cronin Fisk

In the early 1990s, to increase chances of recovery, Wilkes pioneered suits against nursing homes for violating Florida's residents' rights law.  Before then, says Wilkes, "the perception was that it was cheaper to abuse them." According to Steven Vancore, a spokesman for Wilkes' firm, 36 states now have some form of residents' rights laws. Residents' rights are also established under federal law, says Vancore.

Read More
(01/01/2001 Law.com) By: Adam Miller

On the other side were Jim Wilkes and Tim McHugh, the founding partners of Tampa-based Wilkes & McHugh, the state leader in suing nursing homes for abuse and neglect of residents.

Read More
(08/16/2000 Birmingham Post-Herald) By: Steve Reeves

Jim Wilkes doesn't mince words when it comes to expressing his contempt for the nursing home industry. "There is no such thing as a good nursing home, just as there was never such a thing as a good orphanage," the 49-year-old lawyer and Tampa, Fla., native said. "How many orphanages do you see around these days?"

Read More
(08/14/2000 Mississippi Business Journal) By: Elizabeth Kirkland

Jim Wilkes, who founded Wilkes & McHugh with his partner and best friend, Tim McHugh, in 1984 [sic], is no stranger to controversy. Since he and McHugh founded the firm, they have had landmark verdicts in the area of nursing home abuse and are widely regarded as pioneers in the field. Lawyers at one time had been hesitant to represent victims of abuse because they were seen as having little or no economic “value” in society, but Wilkes helped to change that.

Read More
(11/08/1999 People Magazine) By: Nick Charles and Don Sider

Six years later, while handling primarily divorce and minor liability cases, he received a grim reminder of his grandmother's plight when an elderly woman walked into his Tampa, Fla., office with a disturbing story about her 89-year old sister, who had died in a nursing home, her body pocked with bedsores. The woman had been referred to Wilkes by an attorney who didn't think she had a big-money claim. "He told her, 'There's no value to this case,'" recalls Wilkes. "'But I know this crazy guy…'"

Read More
(08/29/1999 St. Petersburg Times) By: Geoff Dougherty

James Wilkes is either the greatest crusader for better care of the elderly or a greedy lawyer who makes nursing homes more expensive for everybody. Or a little of both.

Read More
(08/01/1998 Florida Living Magazine) By: Jeremy Clark

Wilkes has become a minor celebrity for his campaign against abuse and neglect at the hands of large nursing home corporations. Big-city newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, have chronicled his progress as he wrangles multimillion dollar settlements from unscrupulous companies.

Read More
(06/26/1996 The Wall Street Journal) By: Peter Mitchell

"Wilkes is the guru of nursing home cases," says T. Patrick Ford, a Miami lawyer increasingly specializing in patient-rights cases. "People are waking up, seeing there's money in this thing, and they're getting into it."

Read More