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Wagner McLaughlin Will Fight Hard For You

While the most visible representatives of our law firm are our experienced attorneys, they are by no means alone in their fight to protect our clients’ interests. Ours is a cohesive team effort, requiring the talents of specialized support personnel.

Our firm, founded in 1967, is one of Tampa’s oldest and most respected plaintiff trial firms. Our partners are leaders who have achieved professional honors reserved for a small and select number of trial attorneys. We represent only clients we believe in, and we have the skill and financial resources to conduct a tenacious fight to achieve the best and most just outcome possible for each and every client.

Our attorneys rely on a full staff of legal assistants, paralegals, and independent investigators to help evaluate each case, track down details, assure timely responses, and keep the lines of communication open. Because of this combined expertise and team approach, we are able to handle a broad range of civil claims in Florida.

Contact us today if you need legal assistance with any of the following:

  • Personal Injury Accidents
    • Automobile, Truck or Motorcycle Accidents
    • Premises Liability
    • Boating Accidents – including recreational, commercial, and cruise line
    • Aviation Accidents
    • Defective Products, Equipment, and/or Machinery
    • Dog Attacks
    • Occupational Safety – including on-the-job injuries occurring in the construction, maritime, and railroad industries
    • Toxic Chemicals – including claims for medical problems caused by a variety of pollutants
    • Railroad Accidents
  • Malpractice
    • Medical Malpractice 
    • Legal Malpractice
  • Litigation
    • Patent and Copyright Litigation
    • Complex Commercial Litigation
    • Federal Tort Claims Act Litigation
  • Maritime and Admiralty , representing seamen, passengers, longshoremen, repairmen, and other harbor workers
  • Insurance Company Bad Faith
  • Whistleblower Claims – False Claims Act
  • International Tourist Claims

Call 813-225-4000 today to arrange your free initial consultation.

Attorney Bill Wagner

The original founding partner of the firm, Bill Wagner has represented plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout his entire career dating back to 1961.

Bill Wagner was born and raised in Florida, attending undergraduate school at the University of Florida and later graduating with honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1960. He practiced law in Miami at Nichols, Gaither, Beckham, Colson, Spence, and Hicks, where he became a partner. Thereafter, in 1967, he formed the partnership of Wagner, Cunningham, & Vaughan, which later became Wagner, Vaughan & McLaughlin until 2015.

Bill’s dedication to plaintiffs’ rights has led to a long history of active leadership in professional organizations. The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (now named Florida Justice Association) elected him to its 1972-1973 presidency, as well as sixteen years of board membership — and in 1992 honored him with its highest recognition, the Perry Nichols Award. He has also served as president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now known as the American Association for Justice), the first national organization of lawyers whose main practice is representing those damaged by the fault of others, and was an officer or a member of its Board of Governors for more than sixteen years. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, considered to be the premier professional trial organization in America. Bill was selected for the first publication of The Best Lawyers in America and has continued to be chosen for that honor every year since, for more than 25 years.

Over his distinguished career, Bill has been honored with more awards than can be listed here. Within the past few years, the Florida Justice Association honored him with its Lawyer to Legacy 2012 Eagle Legend Award, and the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association presented him with its highest “Champion of Justice” Award. He received the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Outstanding Lawyer Award in 2000 and was presented with the Florida Trial Lawyer of the Year Award by the Florida Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates in 1997. As a member of the Southern Trial Lawyers Association, he has received its prestigious War Horse Award.

Bill’s personal interest in flying led to his obtaining a commercial pilot’s license, with multi-engine, instrument, seaplane and helicopter ratings, which has given him a rare insight into aviation equipment, operations, and accidents. He served as an original member of and chaired the Florida Bar’s Aviation Law Certification Committee, was the first plaintiffs’ board-certified aviation lawyer on Florida’s west coast, and remained board-certified in aviation for many decades, until 2013.

Bill was born Frederick William Wagner, but most of his life has been known by and called “Bill.” He has three adult sons. One son, Alan, practices law with him as his partner; another served as a Lieutenant with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, Florida; and the third who, until recently, spent many years in management with Verizon Communications in Tampa, Florida.

Attorney John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin became a partner with the firm in 1976. He provides a unique perspective and passion in admiralty law, thanks to both his education and experience. Prior to passing the Bar, John earned a degree in marine engineering at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and worked as an engineer for several years before returning to his Washington, D.C. birthplace and joining the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Patent Examiner. Upon graduation from The National Law Center at George Washington University, he worked as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Admiralty and Shipping Section.

John’s special area of practice is reflected in many of his professional activities, including leadership positions on admiralty and maritime law committees of both the American Bar Association and The Florida Bar, as well as membership in the Maritime Law Association of the United States. He is also a Diplomat of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute. John is a former member of the Board of Directors of the S.S. American Victory, a victory ship with an historical museum dedicated to merchant seamen.

John is a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and has been listed in “Florida Legal Elite” and “Florida Super Lawyer.” A sustaining member of the American Association for Justice and the Florida Justice Association, he helped found Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm, and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a past president of its Tampa Bay Chapter. By appointment of the Florida Governor, John has served on 13th Judicial Circuit’s Judicial Nominating Committee, as well as the 13th Judicial Circuit’s Grievance Committee.

John is a frequent lecturer, having authored many articles on maritime law, automobile liability, and insurance law. Two of John’s sons, Kevin and Michael, practice with him as his partners.

Florida Maritime Attorney John McLaughlin at Wagner McLaughlin was interviewed by Steve Andrews of Channel 8 News regarding the year-long Coast Guard investigation of the Pass-A-Grille Spring Break drowning. 

Attorney Alan Wagner

A civil trial lawyer since 1983, Alan Wagner brings an unusual skill set to his partnership in the firm. True to the firm’s dedication to plaintiffs’ rights, Alan’s experience plays a vital role in helping clients.

Alan has distinguished himself as a trial lawyer, gaining extensive experience in handling claims of professional negligence, products liability, bad-faith litigation, complex commercial disputes, toxic torts, and legal and medical malpractice. One of Alan’s key areas of expertise is in the examination of expert witnesses — frequently a critical component in personal injury litigation — which he has perfected while honing a reputation for general excellence in trial advocacy.

Alan became a partner in the firm in 1994 and today serves as President of Wagner McLaughlin. His exceptional skills and competence have refueled the practice’s growth and success.

At Wagner McLaughlin, Alan’s practice continues to focus on representing those who have been injured through others’ negligence or wrongful conduct, be it the careless driver, manufacturer of defective products, or the negligent doctor, lawyer, hospital or other professional. Alan has also developed a contingency fee based practice for intellectual property disputes involving copyright, patent, and trademark infringement cases, to preserve clients’ intellectual property rights and obtain compensation for their infringement. Alan’s proficiency and skill are reflected in his professional honors and memberships. He is board-certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by both The Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. In 2005, Alan was inducted as a fellow of the prestigious and distinguished American College of Trial Lawyers, considered the premier professional trial organization in America. Additionally, Alan serves on the board of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association and was appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to serve for two terms on the Florida Standard Jury Instructions Committee (Civil).

On the personal side, Alan holds both single and multiengine pilot’s licenses and is a dedicated husband and father of two. His wife, Deborah, is the founder and director of Tampa Bay’s Child, Inc., a local nonprofit organization linking impoverished children with sponsors from the community ( His son and daughter have recently graduated from Rice University in Texas. Alan and Deborah have two grown children, Alex and Natalie.

Attorney Kevin McLaughlin

In a firm that puts the highest priority on protecting the injured individual, board-certified trial lawyer Kevin McLaughlin fits in perfectly. Starting his career on the corporate side, Kevin soon realized that his dedication to plaintiffs’ rights was his true purpose and calling. He joined the firm in 1997 and quickly rose to the rank of partner.

While attending law school, Kevin clerked for the judges in the Civil Division of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Florida. Upon graduation, he worked for an insurance defense firm and handled cases involving insurance disputes, coverage issues, automobile negligence, and premises liability claims for some of the largest insurers in the country. This preparation helped Kevin become an expert in handling plaintiffs’ claims. Kevin knows how both the opposition and the courts think, which enhances his ability to be an effective advocate for his clients.

Kevin represents plaintiffs with wrongful death and personal injury claims. His practice encompasses a broad range of claims including admiralty and maritime, premises liability, medical negligence, automotive and products liability actions. His wealth of experience benefits his clients through his ability to assess all sides of the situation.

hillsbouroughAfter serving as a board member for a number of years, in 2016-2017 Kevin became President of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, one of the largest local bar groups in Florida, with a membership of more than 4,000 attorneys, judges and legal professionals. Kevin is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, where he is an officer of the Tampa Bay Chapter. He is a member of the Florida Justice Association, the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, and the American Association for Justice.

A resident of Tampa since early childhood, Kevin is an honor graduate of Wake Forest University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1993. Three years later, he received his Juris Doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law. He resides in Tampa with his wife, Daun, and their two children.

Attorney Michael C. McLaughlin

Michael joined Wagner McLaughlin in 2001 and rapidly became one of the partners of the practice. While earning his J.D. at Florida State University, he held a staff position with the Florida State Senate and researched legal issues for a Civil Division judge in the Thirteenth Circuit in Hillsborough County. During his last year of law school, Michael served as a legislative aide for the Florida Legislative Office of the American Association of Retired Persons. By the time he started practicing law in 1999, Michael McLaughlin had already gained valuable insight into both the judicial system and the rights of individual citizens.

After being admitted to The Florida Bar, Michael spent two years serving Hillsborough County as an Assistant State Attorney, where he represented the State of Florida as a prosecutor. He served as the lead attorney in over 35 jury trials and more than 200 bench trials. In all, he was responsible for handling successful prosecutions against thousands of criminals.

Thanks to his time with the State Attorney’s office, Michael has gained more trial experience than most attorneys achieve in a lifetime of practicing law. Since insurance companies are increasingly opting to take claims to trial rather than settle, Michael’s trial experience has proven to be invaluable.

At Wagner McLaughlin, he represents clients in a full range of personal injury and wrongful death actions, including maritime, auto accident and product liability matters.

Attorney Jason Whittemore

When he joined Wagner McLaughlin in 2011, Jason brought a wide range of experience that perfectly complements the firm’s steadfast dedication to protecting the rights of the injured individual. That broad experience provides Jason with a honed ability to vigorously and effectively litigate various complex issues for clients.

Jason represents plaintiffs in claims involving premises liability, products liability, wrongful death, automobile accidents, medical negligence and professional negligence. Prior to joining the firm, he defended corporations in premises liability and products liability claims. His experience representing corporations gave Jason a valuable perspective and insight on the behavior and tactics of corporate defendants – an insight he now wields as extra ammunition in his aggressive legal battles exclusively on behalf of injured plaintiffs.

Jason also served as a trial attorney for the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. While with the Antitrust Division, he was dedicated to protecting the rights of victims, which led him to his life’s calling: to protect the rights of plaintiffs who have suffered unforeseen tragedy through no fault of their own. Now a member of the dynamic Wagner McLaughlin team, Jason has the background, passion, and tenacity not only to fight for but to achieve justice for the firm’s injured clients.

Jason is active in several legal organizations and has served for a number of years on the Board of Directors for both the Florida Justice Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. In June of 2017, he was installed as the President-Elect of HCBA’s Young Lawyers Division. Jason earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Florida and, later, his Juris Doctorate and Masters in Business Administration from Stetson University College of Law, where he graduated with honors.

Attorney Jim Guarnieri

Having practiced law since 2002, Mr. Guarnieri is a highly experienced trial lawyer who has helped over a thousand clients with their legal issues. He has also successfully represented clients in both civil courts and in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.

Jim is a proud member of the following organizations:

  • Past President of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, a professional organization comprised of some of the top trial lawyers in the Bay area
  • Board member of the Florida Justice Association
  • Member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association
  • Member of the Brandon Bar Association
  • Member of the Florida Bar, including the Trial Lawyers Section
  • Member of the American Association for Justice
  • Jim was awarded the Victor O. Wehle Trial Advocacy Award, which is given by Stetson University College of Law to recognize excellence in trial advocacy.

Jim grew up in the Tampa Bay area and attended high school at Jesuit High School. He attended both The American University in Washington, DC, and later attended and received his degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville. Jim received his Juris Doctorate in 2001 from the Stetson University of Law, graduating cum laude.

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