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Preeminent Children’s Rights Attorney Howard Talenfeld Launches New Law Firm; First Florida Law Firm to Focus Solely on Protecting Rights of Abused, Neglected, Disabled Children


Howard Talenfeld, one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys, has launched Talenfeld Law. The law firm will be the first in Florida to focus exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused, medically fragile, foster and other at-risk children.

Howard is known throughout the legal community and national media as having established the nation’s premier children’s rights practice. His work on behalf of at-risk individuals has earned multimillion dollar awards and resulted in sweeping judicial and legislative reforms.

“This practice will provide a loud and clear voice for children who cannot speak for themselves in the state and federal courts and state capitals – Florida’s most vulnerable abused, medically fragile and developmentally disabled children,” said Howard, who will be joined at the firm by children’s rights attorneys Stacie J. Schmerling, Rayni A. Rabinovitz, and Nicole R. Coniglio.

Among his wins, Howard earned significant damages awards and settlements against New York City and the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, which together paid more than $27 million in the case of Judith Leekin, a foster mother whose “house of horrors” imprisoned, abused and starved 10 disabled foster children.  In Florida, he is responsible for scores of million dollar plus victories in federal civil rights claims against DCF employees and providers also resulting in the landmark decisional law protecting the rights of children and disabled persons.

He was among the first attorneys nationally to utilize the federal civil rights damage statute 42 USC section 1983 to recover damages for injured foster children. In the 2001 case Roe v. Florida Department of Children & Family Services, he recovered a $5 million dollar damage award, an amount in excess of Florida’s sovereign immunity limit of $100,000, on behalf of six foster children.

In another example, the state agreed to pay more than $14 million in a case where foster mother Nellie Johnson repeatedly and brutally beat her foster children, even after the Florida Department of Children and Families knew of the harm they were enduring.

“Howard’s history of defending the most vulnerable children speaks volumes about his character,” said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, Chair, Florida Senate Committee for Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.

Howard is a founder and president of Florida’s Children First, the state’s leading child advocacy organization that provides a voice in the state’s capital for at-risk children by advocating for significant legislative actions. In 2014 alone, the organization helped pass two laws, including the Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs, which provides the right to legal counsel for disabled and special-needs children in the state dependency system. Also, Howard successfully had the Florida Legislature require the mandatory reporting, safety planning and the provision of services for all children involved in child-on-child sexual abuse.

His victories and advocacy have been widely reported in the media including the New York Times, Prime Time Live, CNN, AP and 20/20.  His work has also earned Howard numerous professional awards, including The Florida Bar Association “President’s Award of Merit”, The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the 17th Judicial Circuit, Legal Aid’s Russell Carlisle Award for the Public Good, and the Daily Business Review’s Most Effective Lawyers Award in the Pro Bono category.

About Talenfeld Law

Talenfeld Law is led by one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Learn more at 754-888-KIDS / (754-888-5437) or on the Florida Child Advocate blog at FloridaChildAdvocate.com.

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