Ellis T. Fernandez

Ellis T. Fernandez

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Ellis T. Fernandez

Founder

Ellis T. Fernandez, III was the founding Partner for Fernandez Trial Lawyers. He was a board-certified Civil Trial Lawyer whom the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review awarded an A.V. Preeminent rating (highest).

E.T. was known throughout the country for his impeccable trial skills and for being an avid defender of the underdog. His mastery of civil litigation garnered him recognition as a member of the “Elite Eight” in the United States, and he was named a preeminent trial lawyer chosen to address the most difficult, complex, and catastrophic claims. Out of all trial lawyers reviewed by First Court, only eight, in the entire U.S., were selected as having all of the necessary skills to handle these claims, and the E.T. was one of them.

E.T. was a fighter both inside and outside of the courtroom. He battled cancer for many years. He was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002 and ten years later with stage four metastatic melanoma. E.T. went into remission for almost nine years before he had an unfortunate reoccurrence and lost his battle on June 9, 2023.

E.T. will be greatly missed by his FTL family and three children, Rylan, Tarq, and Hudson. His aggressive and relentless pursuit of justice for his clients is the foundation of Fernandez Trial Lawyers and the standard we will uphold forever.

John M. Howell

John M. Howell

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John M. Howell, Esq.

Partner

John was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1952. He graduated law school in 1977 and has been practicing in Jacksonville since that time. John is is an Martindale-Hubbell peer reviewed attorney with over 100 jury trials to verdict. He has seen every kind of cause of action and can try any case! As a result, John is a pillar of the FTL philosophy making him one of our most formidable defenders.
  • Florida, 1977
  • Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama, J.D., 1977
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, B.A., Cum Laude, 1974
  • The Florida Bar
  • The American Bar
  • Jacksonville Defense Lawyers Association
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute

Ciera C. Gainey

Ciera C. Gainey

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Ciera C. Gainey, Esq.

Partner

Ciera Gainey practices general civil litigation and has experience defending premises liability and motor vehicle negligence cases. In addition to her defense experience, Ciera has worked as a Plaintiff’s attorney with a civil litigation firm in the Jacksonville area. Ciera’s prior experience gives her keen insight into how to evaluate claims, injuries, and treatment in personal injury cases. 

As a Florida native, Ciera was born and raised in Gainesville, FL. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of South Florida, and went on to earn her Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law. While in law school, Ciera was a judicial extern for the Honorable Stephanie Ray at the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, FL. As a judicial extern, Ciera became familiar with Florida appellate practices and procedures by conducting legal research, preparing legal memoranda, and drafting case summaries on various civil issues. 

While at Florida Coastal School, Ciera exceeded academically by receiving the Cali Excellence Book Award for the highest grade in Torts I. She also found much pride in joining the Moot Court Honor Board and the Mock Trial Team. Present day, Ciera serves as a Board Member of the Jacksonville Bar Associations Young Lawyers Sections, where she aids in serval community service projects and mentors local high school students who aspire to become future lawyers.  

Aside from the practice of law, Ciera has a devoted love for music and enjoys spending her spare time singing at various events in the Jacksonville area.

  • Personal Injury  
  • Insurance Defense 
  • Premises Liability
  • Florida, 2018
  • Georgia, 2019
  • United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, 2019
  • Florida Coastal School of Law, 2018, J.D. 
    • Certification in Civil Litigation
    • Pro Bono Honors Graduate
    • SBA Student Leadership Award, Recipient
    • Cali Excellence Book Award, Awarded for the highest grade in Torts I
    • 30th Annual Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition, Champion
    • 30th Annual Earle E. Zehmer Moot Court Competition, Champion
    • Florida Coastal Moot Court Internal Competition, Champion
    • Florida Coastal Mock Trial Internal Competition, Top Six Advocate & Best Cross-Examination
  • University of South Florida, 2010, B.A. 
  • Jacksonville Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section
    • Board Member, 2001 – Present
  • The National Black Lawyers
    • Recognized as Top 40 Under 40 in Florida, 2020 – Present 
  • D.W. Perkin’s Bar Association
    • Member, 2023 – Present

Gerrard Molenaar, Esq.

Gerrard Molenaar, Esq.

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Gerrard Molenaar, Esq.

Gerrard was born and raised in the Netherlands, where he studied Physical Therapy. He practiced Physical Therapy in the Netherlands, England, and here in Jacksonville, Florida, where he worked for a local medical center for almost 13 years. He had a lifelong interest in law, and was in the fortunate position to go to Florida Coastal Law School after a successful career in health care. He utilizes his knowledge of health care in his analysis of cases, and enjoys his work at Fernandez Trial Lawyers. Gerrard is married, and has four children. His interests outside of work include sailing, reading, and spending time with his family.
  • Florida, 2019
  • Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Bachelor of Science: Physical Therapy, 1992
  • Florida Coastal School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2018
  • The Florida Bar

Geraldine “Gerri” Deas-Matthews

Geraldine “Gerri” Deas-Matthews

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Geraldine “Gerri” Deas-Matthews

Trial Paralegal to John M. Howell, Esq.

Gerri is a Florida native, born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.

Gerri’s educational background began with her enrollment in the Legal Assistance / Paralegal program offered in North Florida. She received an Associate of Science degree at Florida State College Jacksonville (formerly known as Florida Junior College).  She also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, with Paralegal Studies.  Gerri is a devoted Florida Gator and Jacksonville Jaguar fan.  She enjoys the beach and exploring the outdoors.

Gerri has over twenty-eight years of experience in the legal field, and Fernandez Trial Lawyers is honored to have her a part of the team.

 

Education  

  • Florida State College at Jacksonville, 1995, Associate of Science  

  • Florida State College at Jacksonville, 2000, Bachelor of Arts  

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