23Jun 2020

By Christopher J. Smith, managing partner

A rise in alcohol sales during lockdown and the pandemic could make July this year even deadlier for driving. During July, with July 4th being a key factor, more people die in drunk driving crashes than any other month, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

Early May represented the strongest growth rate for alcohol sales since the “peak pantry-loading week” in late March, according to figures from market research firm Nielsen, which noted alcoholic beverage sales were up 55% as of the week of March 15-22 across the country. Spirit sales were up, too, and have soared to 75%, while beer sales saw a 66% jump and wine sales spiked to 42% when compared to this time last year. 

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) notes drunk driving is still the No. 1 cause of death on our roadways. Every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash, and every 51 minutes, someone is killed, with drunk driving impacting two out of three people in their lifetime.  

This is despite efforts to curtail drunk driving since 1980, when MADD was started by one mom whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver at her kitchen table. While the number of drunk driving fatalities has been cut in half since then, alcohol-related deaths remain the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 

For the third year, Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz will be a presenting sponsor for Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Walk Like MADD 5K that raises money to fund free victim support and drunk driving prevention programs in Southwest Florida.  

This year’s Walk Like MADSaturday, Sept. 26 will be virtual. Although virtual, the event will still offer amazing food (via coupons), finisher medals, 5K place medals and, in place of an event shirt, a custom neck gaiter. For information on supporting or joining the walk, click here. 

Walk Like MADD provides an outlet for those affected by drunk and drugged driving to channel their grief into hope and healing and gives communities the chance to surround and support those hurting by taking action to prevent others from suffering. MADD believes that drunk and drugged incidents are not accidents because they are the result of choice, not chance.  

Here is how you can avoid being part of July’s grim drunk driving statistics, provided by State Farm insurance: 

  • Always choose a non-drinking designated driver — every time you go out. 
  • If you go out alone, do not drink alcohol. Order a non-alcoholic beverage such as a soft drink or water. 
  • Never feel pressured to drink alcohol. If you do plan on drinking, do so responsibly. Eat plenty of food and drink water. 
  • If you have been drinking, call a taxi or car-sharing service for a ride, like Uber or Lyft. 
  • Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. 
  • Protect others by taking their keys if they try to drive after consuming alcohol. They may be mad at you, but the alternative is much worse.
  • Be careful on the road. Pull over and report drivers you suspect to be under the influence by calling 9-1-1. 

I have been been a team leader for Walk Like MADD and was named after a family member who was killed by a drunk driver. If you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to drunk driving, it is important to seek legal help. Our attorneys have over five decades of experience with personal injury cases.

04Jun 2020

Fort Myers attorneys J. Jeffrey Rice, John B. Cechman and Richard L. Purtz named to the 2020 Florida ‘Super Lawyers’ list

Accomplished Fort Myers attorneys J. Jeffrey Rice, John B. Cechman and Richard L. Purtz, all partners at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, have been named to the prestigious 2020 Florida Super Lawyers list.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. Super Lawyers represent the top 5% of legal professionals in each state.

Rice was first named to the list in 2006. Cechman was named to the list in 2007, 2009 and 2020. Purtz was first named in 2009, and each year since 2017.

Rice emphasizes his practice on commercial law, construction law and real estate. Cechman and Purtz are personal injury attorneys for the firm. All three, as well as managing partner Christopher J. Smith, are Florida Board Certified in Civil Trial, an honor approximately only 1% of trial lawyers achieve by trying a certain number of civil trials to verdict and passing a written exam. Rice is also Board Certified in business litigation and construction law.

In addition, Cechman, Rice and Purtz, as well as partner Stephen Buckley, Smith and attorney Michael Versnik are also AV Preeminent rated, the highest rating attorneys can receive by Martindale Hubbell’s peer attorney and judges review. Smith, Rice, Cechman and Purtz are also members of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a prestigious national invitation-only group of trial attorneys that has stringent requirements attorneys must meet in order to qualify.

Super Lawyers magazine features Cechman, Rice and Purtz in its June issue, which will be distributed to more than 62,000 attorneys and posted in an online directory. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

About Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz

Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A., has offered a full complement of professional legal services to Southwest Florida clients since 1962. The firm’s experienced attorneys are board certified by the Florida Bar, and their areas of practice include personal injury and accidents, fall and premises liability, wrongful death, motorcycle and truck accidents, medical malpractice, real estate, commercial litigation, construction law, wills, estate planning and administration, social security law and criminal law. With offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte, attorneys can be reached by calling 239-334-1146 or visiting our contact us page.

19Feb 2020

J. Jeffrey RiceFort Myers attorney J. Jeffrey Rice, who has been moonlighting as an NFL referee for 25 years, hung up his whistle for the final time after Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

Rice, a former managing partner of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A., retired as a game umpire after calling Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Rice began officiating high school football games in 1973, just a year after graduating from Northwestern University. After earning a juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in 1975, Rice was admitted to the Florida Bar and continued officiating on the weekends in Southwest Florida through the South Gulf Football Officials Association. He steadily built a reputation as a premier official and worked his way up to college games, then NFL Europe games, before being hired by the NFL in 1995.

Rice’s role on the field has been an umpire, which includes monitoring the line of scrimmage for illegal blocking or holding calls and false starts, as well as marking off penalty yardage and counting the number of offensive players on the field.

Over the past 25 years, Rice has officiated more than 400 NFL games and been granted 24 postseason assignments, including four Super Bowls and four Pro Bowls. Postseason officiating crews are considered the league’s top game officials. Rice is one of only 105 officials to work a Super Bowl game, and one of just 16 who have worked three or more Super Bowls, including two of the closest championship games in NFL history:

  • Super Bowl XXXV (2001 – alternate official): Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
  • Super Bowl XXXVI (2002 – umpire): New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
  • Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004 – umpire): New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
  • Super Bowl 50 (2016 – umpire): Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10

As an NFL official with 25 years of experience, Rice is recognized on a plaque displayed in a special exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Rice’s father, Bob Rice, worked for 19 years as an NFL official, including two Super Bowls.

At his day job, Rice also is at the top of his game, having been named to Florida’s prestigious Super Lawyers list for 14 consecutive years. To earn the annual honor, candidates are measured against 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, a rigorous and methodical process to determine Super Lawyers that represent the top 5 percent of legal professionals in each state.

Rice, who often makes himself available as a guest speaker for local organizations, emphasizes his practice on commercial law, construction law, construction lien cases and real estate closings for clients. He is a member of the Lee County Bar Association and Florida Bar, and licensed to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Rice has been honored by Martindale-Hubbell as a top-rated lawyer in business and corporate law, and has been included in the peer-reviewed legal publication Best Lawyers.

Florida Bar News: After 25 years as an NFL referee, Fort Myers attorney J. Jeffrey Rice hangs up his whistle
Naples Daily News: Fort Myers’ Jeff Rice retires after 25 years as NFL game official
Naples Daily News: Photos: NFL umpire Jeff Rice of Fort Myers through the years
WINK: SWFL lawyer retires from 25-year career as NFL official

21Jan 2020

Car Accidents: Our ExpertiseGoldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz was recently named among the Best Car Accident Lawyers in Fort Myers, by Expertise. The firm was one of 19 selected out of 34 area firms considered.

Expertise hand-picks objectively quantified and qualified professionals for its lists, identifying the top service professionals in over 200 different industries in the United States. To date, Expertise has analyzed more than 10 million companies to help more than 10 million customers find the best qualified professionals for their needs.

Using publicly available data, Expertise verifies contact and license information, and then using in-house software grades each business on more than 25 variables across five categories: reputation, credibility, experience, engagement and professionalism.

To see the listing, click here.