The morning of August 27, 1990, five-year-old Katina Taylor boarded a Marion County bus and headed off to her very first day of school. This should be an exciting moment for a parent, but Katina’s mother, Carla Taylor Parrish, had reservations about her young daughter’s safety.
“The day before school started, she went to the school and said, ‘My daughter’s going to be riding the school bus, and I want to make sure she’s safe. She’s never ridden a bus before,’” recalls attorney Brent C. Miller. “They assured her that everything was going to be fine.”
But everything was not fine that Monday morning. Katina was dropped off at the wrong bus stop, and in an attempt to reach her home, she walked three blocks to a busy, multi-lane highway. Little Katina began to cross the road and had almost reached the other side when she was struck by a car and killed.
When the case arrived on Miller’s desk, he was intent on getting to the bottom of what had led to Katina’s tragic death.
“I was lead counsel, and I immediately filed suit against the school board,” Miller says. “We took the deposition of the superintendent of transportation for Marion County schools and asked her what procedures the Marion County School Board had in place to make sure that these young children get off at the right bus stop. Marion County had no policies or procedures.”
Miller won the case, and as a result of the suit, the Marion County School Board implemented a new policy in which each bus stop was assigned a number and each student was assigned to a bus stop to ensure they would be dropped off at the correct stop.
“You try to help people,” Miller reflects 19 years after Katina’s death. “That is probably my most rewarding case in terms of what we did for the community. We changed a policy so that it helps kids.”
An Illinois native and a graduate of the Indiana University School of Law, Miller moved to Florida in 1987. He was practicing law in Orlando when the father of three discovered a quiet county to the north whose beauty and small-town atmosphere piqued his interest.
“Lake County was a great place to raise my kids,” he says. “I moved out here and opened my own practice in 1999. We now have four locations: Tavares, Clermont, The Villages, and Inverness.”
Miller and his associate, Attorney Thomas Daniel Hippelheuser, specialize in personal injury law, including auto and motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, pharmacy errors, nursing home negligence, defective products, work injury claims, and wrongful death. Miller and Hippelheuser meet one-on-one with every client in a free consultation to discuss the case, its merits, and how to proceed legally. They are particularly attuned to the stress many people are under after a serious accident.
“They’re in pain. They feel completely overwhelmed,” explains Hippelheuser. “An insurance company contacts them and wants them to make decisions, and they don’t know what to do next. We’re able to help them, step by step.
“I opened my own practice,” Miller adds,“so I could give clients the personalized attention they deserve.”
Miller, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an elite group of trial lawyers nationwide who have won million- or multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, works with clients throughout Central Florida, the state, and even the country.
“We have a lot of clients who are tourists,” he says. “Something might happen here, and they call us because they want a Florida lawyer. Or residents of our state go out-of-state, are involved in an accident, and hire us. We’ve had cases from New York and North Carolina to California.”
Whether he’s keeping dangerous, defective products off the market, making sure kids are safe at the school bus stop, or giving lectures on insurance law to inform the public, Miller finds victory every day in fighting for the rights of others.
“The most gratifying part of my job,” he says, “is being able to help people.”
The Law Offices of Brent C. Miller, P.A.
205 E. Burleigh Blvd., Hwy. 441
Tavares, FL 32778
Offices in Tavares, The Villages, Inverness, and Clermont