Jean Frances Niven has been a passionate advocate for each of her clients during the past 34 years. A JD recipient from SUNY Buffalo Law School, where she was a member of the Moot Court team. Jean also attended Bryn Mawr Graduate School for three years. Jean was one of only two applicants selected worldwide to enroll in Bryn Mawr’s Philosophy, Ph.D., program in 1970.
Jean’s most memorable legal accomplishments include negotiating through the U.N. Crisis Desk for the safe release of four employees of TPI International Airways, Inc. who were being held hostage by the government of Zaire, Africa. Jean also negotiated the release of a multi-million dollar aircraft being held in The Gambia, Africa. Participating in both international and national litigation Jean has tried more than 75 civil and felony cases in the United States, the majority of them as 1st chair counsel. Jean has represented clients from Alaska to Florida, New York to Texas and is a proud member of the State Bars of Florida, New York, and Texas as well as federal courts of Florida, New York, Texas, and Colorado. Jean is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jean has tried high-profile cases including one which attracted the attention of the United States White House resulting in all deposition transcripts being submitted to Special Counsel appointed by the President. Trial victory in another case resulted in an $11 million-dollar award for Jean’s client. In that case Jean was the sole plaintiff trial attorney. In the early 2000’s Jean developed expertise in the area of mold, litigating both personal injury and property damage cases. In multiple instances where the insurance carrier had outright denied coverage, Jean’s efforts were successful in achieving policy limit results on the property damage claims and awards for pain, suffering, economic losses and medical expenses for personal injury due to mold. The Florida Senate published a lengthy bulletin on mold for Florida citizens wherein Jean was the only attorney quoted in the article. Environmental experts have sought out Jean to participate as a speaker at symposiums held in NYC, Miami and Chicago.
As a testament to Jean’s credibility and reputation, when the Florida Defense Consortium held a Florida symposium on sinkholes for insurance carriers and their preferred vendors, Jean was the only insureds’ attorney invited to speak. After participating in that symposium Jean was invited by national engineering firms to lecture with them regarding property damage caused by hail, fire, mold, sinkhole and wind.
A proud member of the Merlin Law Group family, Jean was recruited by Chip Merlin in 1998. Continuously expanding her litigation skill set, in 2016 Jean was awarded the distinction of Master Advocate and Diplomate of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Jean has also in multiple years been the recipient of the designation of Top Ten Florida Lawyers in the field of personal injury.
In the 2017 New York Times best seller book, Do I make Myself Clear Jean’s commentary on U.S. insurance law was extensively quoted. Jean is one of only a few attorneys ever selected for membership in the National Academy of Forensic Engineers as a Correspondent Affiliate. Jean is also a qualified Arbitrator and has served as an appraiser on insurance property loss claims. Jean’s current areas of practice as Of Counsel at the Merlin Law Group include insurance coverage issues, first party insurance litigation and insurance bad faith.
Jean’s recreational pursuits include hot air ballooning especially over the Red Rocks in Arizona, white-water rafting class IV rapids, particularly on the Ocoee River in TN, and Yoga wherever she happens to travel. First and foremost in Jean’s life is her love of family and family time. Particularly with her four children and four grandchildren.
State University of New York, Buffalo School of Law
Buffalo, New York
Honors: Moot Court Board
New School for Social Research
New York, New York
Ph.D. program in Philosophy
Bryn Mawr Graduate School
Bryn Mwar, Pennsylvania
Ph.D. program in Philosophy