Whenever I’m on campus, I pass a trail across from the Levin Law Building that looks like it would be so inviting. Well, the reality of the trail was not so wonderful, so I’ll talk about the Levin Law Building instead, while giving you a few pictures I shot that I like but which really don’t have much of a story.
I do love the Levin Law Building, but not necessarily for its architecture. It’s the background that I love. You see, I’ve actually met Fred Levin and I know where the money came from. He’s a pretty big deal in Pensacola and has been for years. Way back when I first moved there, I was a proofreader for some court reporters and I would occasionally meet some of the lawyers either in the court reporter’s office or when I was delivering transcripts to the lawyers’ offices. Fred Levin was one of their clients, and a fairly busy one at that.
My personal encounters with Levin aren’t what make me love this building that he donated the money for. In the early 90s, Levin, along with a group of other lawyers, fought for Florida’s right to recover health care costs from the tobacco companies. After many years, they won a fight that not many believed could be won, and ended up on the cover of Time Magazine for it. Part of the settlement included anti-tobacco education as well, to help prevent others from needing care.
As if that weren’t enough of a reason to think of Fred Levin as a bit of a hero, his actions after a little storm named Ivan swept through Pensacola and devastated it really made me admire the guy. Almost everyone in the area was affected by the storm, which hit September 16, 2004, a year before Katrina. This was a huge storm, described in National Geographic as the worst natural disaster to ever hit the US (that issue came out about a week before Katrina). There had already been several other hurricanes that hit Florida that year, although those were on the peninsula, not the panhandle, and insurers were looking for ways to get out of paying claims. Levin produced a commercial targeting those insurance companies and telling them to do the right thing. As I remember it (I tried to google, but couldn’t find it), he was told that he could not continue to air that commercial unless he wanted to risk being disbarred. It was the most wonderful commercial I have ever seen.