In Memoriam: H. Guy Smith (1941 – 2022)
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, mentor, leader, and friend, Mr. H. Guy Smith. He passed away on February 12, 2022 at 80 years old. He had a historic career dedicated to injured workers dating back to the late 60s. Mr. Smith graduated with a law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1966. During his tenure he handled in excess of 20,000 workers’ compensation cases. Many of the cases that he tried are landmark or significant cases that have shaped the body of law applicable to our Florida Workers’ Compensation system.
Mr. Smith devoted his life to his practice and to his family. He served on the Executive Board of Florida Workers’ Advocates and was president from 2003 to 2004. He was known for his analytical mind, strategy, and willingness to develop cases.
H. Guy Smith once represented insurance companies, but that all changed years ago after his family experienced two tragedies. In 1942, his uncle Gordon Elmo Rodgers fell while working in a sawmill, permanently paralyzing him from the waist down. He died 14 months later at the age of 30, leaving behind his wife and small children. Years later, his cousin Jimmy fell 5 stories while working as a carpenter, sustaining massive injuries and multiple spinal fractures.
From these experiences, H. Guy Smith gained a new perspective of personal injury and its devastating effects. He saw how personal injuries could bring physical, emotional, and financial hardships. This new perspective turned into a new purpose. Instead of insurance companies, H. Guy Smith vowed to represent injured people and their families instead.
Guy Smith was certified by the Florida Bar in the field of workers’ compensation in 1989. In the course of his practice, Guy has been attorney of record in excess of three hundred cases that he appealed or that were appealed by the Employer/Carrier. Many of the appellate cases he was involved in were significant and/or landmark cases, such as:
- Florida Tile v. Dozier, 561 So.2d 654 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990)
- Bath v. Sheecon, Inc., 560 So.2d 1289 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990)
- New Wales Chemicals, Inc. v. Parks, 518 So.2d 360 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987)
- Carruth v. Allied Products Co., 452 So.2d 634 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984)
- City of Tampa v. Fein, 498 So.2d 442 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983)
- Florida Distillers v. Rudd, 751 So.2d 754 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000), to cite a few.
In Fein, the Court, commenting on the services of H. Guy Smith, Esquire, states: “It is manifestly clear that without the benefit of the high-quality legal services rendered on Fein’s behalf by his attorney, the City of Tampa would have succeeded in depriving Fein of benefits he was entitled to receive by law.”
Not only was Mr. Smith experienced as a trial attorney, but he also served as a presenter and a panel member at numerous continuing legal education seminars in the field of workers’ compensation in addition to serving as a contributing author to the standard workers’ compensation practice manual on the subject of attorney’s fees. See The Florida Bar, Florida Workers’ Compensation Practice, Fifth Edition (1996). Mr. Smith received an AV rating in the well-known and respected Martindale-Hubbell legal directory. The AV rating is the highest rating given to an attorney in recognition of his legal experience and abilities, unquestioned ethics and professional reputation by his peers.
He had a love for macadamia nuts and thin crispy chocolate chip cookies, but he held great concern for the rights of all and a commitment to those whose voices were silenced in their time of need. He was also president of the downtown Kiwanis Club of Lakeland and a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. He raised three children, Beverly, Brad, and Jennifer and is leaving behind 12 grandchildren.
He left us with an inspiration and a lasting legacy. We are thankful.