Leesfield & Partners is now Leesfield Scolaro!

Tom Scolaro's entire legal career from law clerk to named partner has spanned 16 years with the firm. Starting as a research clerk while in law school, Tom, at age 41, has now rocketed to one of the leading trial lawyers statewide in Florida. He has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout he state and has brought about significant safety changes in the areas of carbon monoxide injury prevention. In 2004, Ira Leesfield and Tom Scolaro tried the matter of Kemp v. American Medical Response Management, Inc. in Key West with a $2.1 million dollar verdict. "From that point forward, Tom has pulled together a string of accomplishments unparalleled by any lawyer of his generation," says Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield.

002-LS-Logo w-o rules.jpgIn other news, Ira Leesfield has again been selected for the 2015 Best Lawyers as stated in the Wall Street Journal and Miami Herald. This is Leesfield's fifth consecutive year of selection. Within the last decade Ira Leesfield's lifetime commitment to the profession and his clients has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the Anti-Defamation League's "Jurisprudence Award," "Melvin Belli Award," the American Jewish Committee "Judge Learned Hand Award," and the Florida Justice Association's "Al J. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award" and the "Crystal Eagle Award." He was the first Florida recipient of the American Ort "Jurisprudence Award." In 2013, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers (Miami-Dade Chapter) presented Ira Leesfield with the 2013 Philanthropist Award, recognizing his long-standing commitment to support rising female law students through scholarship grants. He has twice been awarded the prestigious Wiedman Wisocki medal for outstanding advocacy. He was nominated as "Lawyer of the Year" by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and selected as one of America's Top Ten Trial Lawyers. He is also rated by AVVO, SuperLawyers, Martindale-Hubbell,, U.S. News & World Report "Best Lawyers", among others.

In October, the firm celebrated its 38th year of service to the State of Florida with the addition of Daniel Diaz-Balart, son of former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart. He comes with four years of intensive trial experience at the State Attorney's Office. Danny is now in court on a regular basis, and his efforts join the very significant accomplishments of Justin B. Shapiro and Carol L. Finklehoffe.

Leesfield Scolaro continues to represent victims of negligence and wrongdoing from around the country and the world with recent results for clients from Europe, Canada, South America and the continental United States. Those results include:
$3.2 million for a neurologically injured Italian Student;
$3.25 million for a gadly burned German national;
$1.2 million for a British family injured in Ormond Beach, Fl.;
$2.5 million aviation recovery for a widow and her family from Spain;
$1.575 million for rape victim from Canada;
$900,000 for burn victim from Mexico;
Confidential settlement for rape victim from Brazil.

Ira Leesfield remains active in the American Association for Justice, having served as Florida Senior Governor on its board for over 24 years, he now chairs the organization's Stalwarts Committee for the second consecutive year, while he maintains an active trial schedule and work with the Leesfield Family Foundation and the Clinton Foundation. With 38 years of firm experience, longevity, hard work and re-commitment have become the trademark of the firm.

Maritime and cruise ship passenger cases arise from all over, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Georgia, and Michigan, according to Carol L. Finklehoffe, Chair of the Maritime Law Association Cruise Line Passenger Ship Committee. Justin Shapiro has recently completed a number of significant cases in Key West and Central Florida, as well as handling pending trials in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"I am honored to be part of the new firm name, but our standard for excellence and results remains exactly the same," according to Tom Scolaro, now a 16-year veteran of the firm.

Firm recognition, most importantly is from both referral lawyers and clients.

"Thanks again for all the great work you do for our firm and for our clients. We absolutely look forward to continuing to collaborate with you and your firm on significant accidental injury cases. And, by the way, our legal administrative staff members likewise appreciate how good you make us look to our clients down there in Florida."
-Enrique O. Guerrero, Guerrero & Rosengarten, New York.

"Our firms in New York and California have co-counseled with Leesfield Scolaro on a number of high end important cases. Our work together could not have been more smooth, enjoyable or rewarding. We look forward to continuing this working relationship."
-James Kreindler, Kreindler & Kreindler, New York.

"When my father was injured in Florida, I did my research and due diligence, and found Leesfield Scolaro to represent him. Although the case is still pending, I get thorough updates, and I am most impressed in the pace at which they are movingt this case. I can recommend this firm without reservation."
-Andy Bokser, Client.

"Mr. Scolaro, we want to say thanks to you for being our attorney, along with the rest of the law firm knowing it was a very long road from beginning to the end. We would always keep you in thoughts if we ever need to call on you again. Again, thanks a lot for all your help. It was greatly appreciated."
-Daniel and Ovilda Lake, Clients.

Fatal boating collision during holiday weekend in Miami

On Saturday night, a two boats were involved in an accident off Biscayne Bay, one mile off Matheson Hammock in Coral Gables, Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission which is investigating every single boating accident in the region has relayed minimal information through its spokesperson, Jorge Pino. What the public knows thus far is that a 68-foot motor yacht traveling north along the coast collided with a 27-foot pleasure boat that was navigating south along the coast.

5137409_G.jpgThree occupants of the smaller boat fell into the water and were injured in the accident. All three were pulled onto the yacht by some of the 21 passengers on board. Among the three injured people, Maria Del Valle, 29, was critically injured. She was initially taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment before being transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she tragically died.

Maria Del Valle was the mother of four children, with the youngest child being just 14-months-old, according to the FWC. The father of her youngest child, Maykel Perdomo, 33, is among the injured people who were on the small boat and thrown into the water. He is said to be in stable condition at this time. The third person involved is Dayron Baralt, 23, who was still in critical condition yesterday. His status remains unknown at this time.

Immediately after the collision, flares were shot into the air and alerted the many officers patrolling the Biscayne Bay area during Columbus day weekend, which is known for a popular boating day in South Florida. The FWC investigators towed the small vessel to Matheson Hammock marina, while the large yacht was anchored at the scene of the accident and is considered a crime scene. Local police enforcement agencies helped in the screening of the passengers who were on the yacht at the time.

The operator of the yacht, was escorted in by FWC investigators to conduct a sobriety test and draw blood. FWC said they will not know the results of the toxicology report for approximately two weeks (it will probably only take 2-3 days for the investigating officers to obtain the results) and see whether alcohol played a role in the accident. The father of Maria Del Valle, Lazaro Del Valle, told reporters during an interview shortly after the incident that his three grandchildren "found out through Facebook they have no mother."

Whether alcohol played a role in the tragedy, investigators seem to believe the operator of the yacht was negligent and responsible for causing the collision. The next step will consist of gathering information relative the accident itself, such as the speed of each vessel and whether the yacht operator was negligent. If the FWC finds that he was negligent, he may be charged criminally for causing the death of Maria Del Valle and the other two injured people on the small vessel.

Leesfield Scolaro has represented many victims who were involved in boating accidents across the state of Florida, especially in Miami, Key West, and throughout the Florida Keys. While each boating accident has its own set of circumstances, breach in safety and negligent acts are always present whether alcohol was a factor or not.

Should you have information about the incident that occurred Saturday night, contact the FWC immediately or your local authorities in helping them to determine the circumstances of this collision.

Addressing the Perils of Parasailing - by Ira H. Leesfield

Among all water-based recreation activities that Floridians participate in year-round, parasailing has proven to be the most dangerous. By the very nature of parasailing, accidents invariably result in either catastrophic injuries or death. Leesfield Scolaro with other key advocates have been at the forefront of promoting the passage of laws and regulations to increase parasailing safety. After numerous articles and blogs, answers have finally come with the recent passage of the White-Miskell Act, and, now, this week's release from the NTSB's Special Investigation Report: Parasailing Safety.

ira-leesfield1.jpgPromoting parasail safety has become a priority of mine since 2007 while representing the family of two teenage-sisters, injured and killed during a flawed parasail ride. This was national news and rightly so. Witness videos and photos showed the boat towing the parasail as it was pushed ashore due to strong currents and very high winds, and on the end of the towing rope, you could see the two sisters in the parasail, dangling dangerously high up in the air, at the mercy of the elements. Seconds later, the towing rope snapped and both girls were catapulted against several buildings, dragged across rooftops, and falling lifeless into palm trees.

After speaking with members of the Coast Guard, it became clear that human error was the common denominator in almost every single parasailing accident. Faulty equipment, inadequate weather-tracking equipment, operator error, or lack of training are always contributing factors of parasailing tragedies. There was no protection from the State of Florida nor did the Federal Government have any regulation in place to safeguard the public from irresponsible operators at the time. For years, the parasailing industry was a modern version of the wild wild west: Buy a boat, a rope, a chute, you are in the parasailing business! Things had to change.

In 2013, about 325 vessels were conducting parasailing operations in the United States and its territories, and about one-third of the overall activity takes place in Florida. The NTSB became involved when the Coast Guard joined in on the investigation of several parasailing fatalities and kept a very close eye to incidents occurring in the State of Florida. Among the cases the NTSB monitored was our case in 2011 occurring in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. A 60-year-old woman died and her daughter was seriously injured when the towline parted in high winds, and the women landed hard in the water. The vessel master had hoisted the women into the air even though the weather conditions were deteriorating and the winds increasing. Leesfield Scolaro recommended remedial steps from our now growing parasail experience.

Based on our success in passing laws protecting the public from carbon monoxide poisoning at hotels, we strongly encouraged the Florida Legislature to act again for public safety. Two years after that hotel incident, the State of Florida adopted a new set of laws making carbon monoxide detectors mandatory for new buildings and, now, we have parasailing protection as well.

After seven years and three failed attempts at passing regulations later, Governor Scott finally signed the White-Miskell Act this June, which will impose and implement parasail safety regulations for the first time in Florida. In particular, the law requires that operators keep a weather log, and install adequate weather equipment to receive weather updates and weather warnings in case of rapidly forming storms which make parasailing unsafe.

While the new law is a major victory for Floridians and millions of tourists who travel to Florida every year, it is by no means a perfect solution. These regulations are a stepping stone to increase parasail safety, but much more needs to be added. That is why we will remain at the side of all the safety advocates and push for legislation requiring minimum standard equipments that parasail operators must use in order to offer rides in Florida, as well as a minimum level of experience and professional competence for those who operate parasailing vessels.

As Chair of the Leading National Resort Tort Litigation Group, the latest report and recommendations for stricter requirements to be imposed upon parasailing operators by the NTSB are much welcome and we must all continue to advocate for greater parasailing safety. The goal is simple: Safer parasailing experiences for consumers and to eliminate human errors associated with parasailing activities.

Ira H. Leesfield is the Founding Partner of Leesfield Scolaro. P.A.

4-year-old child killed by dog in Miami

Dog bite cases are among the saddest and most tragic cases when representing victims and families in personal injury cases. Today in Miami, a four year-old was apparently mauled to death by a dog at 12301 SW 230th Street. The details of this horrific incident have yet to be known or released by Miami-Dade responding police officers. It seems that the identities of the dog or the dog owner are unknown at this time. A still photograph taken by a helicopter shows a teddy bear laying on the grass, and a small size sheet draped over the child's tiny body.

The dog laws in Florida favor all victims of dog bites, making the dog owner strictly liable for the injuries the dog inflicted upon the victim. In cases involving a child younger than 6-years-old, Florida Law disposes that the child cannot be held responsible for any comparative fault. There is a standing comparative negligence question regarding the parents and the potential lack of supervision of the child which may or may not have contributed to the child falling a victim of the animal.

The tragedy of losing a child under such ignominious circumstances is even worse knowing that, so far, the dog owner and the dog are unidentified. Even if the police recovered their identity, the parents of the small child will be in an extremely difficult position to recover for their unspeakable loss.

In Florida, dog owners are not required to carry liability insurance in case their dog attacks an innocent victim. For a long time, dog owners were covered under their homeowner's insurance coverage. But insurance companies have since made the business decision to specifically exclude coverage and insurance benefits to victims of dog bites from homeowner's insurance policies. In effect, it means that in most cases the victims and their families will not recover for their loss.

Should you have more information about the dog attack that killed the small child today in Southwest Miami-Dade County, please contact the authorities immediately.

Fatal boating collision on takes four lives

In May, Ira Leesfield underlined the increased dangers in all water-related activities, including boating, during national holidays when he wrote: "Memorial Day boating and water sports highlight safety issues in the Florida keys." This past weekend, during the 4th of July festivities, tragedy struck when three boats collided, resulting in the death of four people, and seven more severely injured.

Investigating officers for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have released several answers as to what exactly happened on Friday night at around 10:40pm. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jorge Pino said yesterday that it is typical for boaters to go out on the bay to watch the July 4th fireworks from the water. When the fireworks end, it is also typical that the majority of these boats sprint back to land, and the dark conditions always make heightened the dangers of a potential boat collision or accident. It would only take a leap to hear the investigators look to the operator of the Contender as the potential responsible person for the three-boat collision.

miami-boat-accident.jpgAccording to witnesses aboard the Carrera, the Contender was "coming straight toward" them at high speed and crashed into the Carrera before any evasive maneuvers could be undertaken by either captains. The Contender spun out of control after the first impact and ended its course after colliding with a third boat, the Boston Whaler.

This violent accident took the lives of 3 young people who were aboard the Contender, including its supposed captain, Andrew Garcia, 23. The other two fatally wounded victims are Victoria Dempsey, 20, and Kelsie Karpiak, 24. The remaining two passengers on the Contender, Catherine Payan, 24, and Samantha Rolth, sustained catastrophic injuries as well and to date, Catherine is still fighting for her life at Ryder Trauma Center.

One young man on the Carrera lost his life, Jason Soleimani, 23, from Old Westbury, New York. He was in Miami with his girlfriend, Heather Hanono, 22. The Hanono family was also on the boat with them, including two toddlers, Emma, 5, and Ella, 2. Both were uninjured in the incident. Thankfully, none of the passengers on the Boston Whaler were injured other than a minor leg injury.

As we have discussed on this blog many times in the past, Florida is the number one State in total numbers of registered vessels, and reportable boating accidents. Across the State of Florida, Miami-Dade county has the highest number of accidents and injuries.

That is why the law firm of Leesfield Scolaro has handled many boating accidents cases throughout the State, the majority of which involved fatal accidents, including a seven-figure settlement for the death of a 20-year-old girl who was a passenger in a speedboat that crashed into a dock on a lake in the middle of the night. In that case, speed and alcohol were involved.

South Florida Roads: Six fatalities under 24 hours

In less than 24 hours, South Florida roadways have witnesses four motor vehicle accidents which caused the death of six people. While the number of traffic accident fatalities is in somewhat decline in the State overall, last weekend's events are a brutal reminder that traffic safety remains the greatest cause for unnatural deaths in Florida.

Ambulance_iStock_000011321000Medium.jpgIn Miami Beach, a woman was killed while crossing the street at Rue Granville and Normandy Drive. She was struck by a car on Sunday night and was emergently transported to the hospital. She succumbed to her serious injures at the hospital.

Earlier that day, two women crossing Alligator Alley were killed when they were struck by an SUV near mile marker 63. According to the driver of the vehicle who struck them, the police said the deceased were walking along the median of Alligator Alley and began crossing the road in the direction of their car that was parked in a rest area along the road. The driver of the SUV was unable to avoid them and after hitting the windshield, they both died at the scene.

In Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Highway Patrol responded to another traffic fatality. According to investigators and witnesses, a person had stopped his car on Interstate 75. A tractor-trailer failed to see the stopped car and rammed his truck into the car, killing its occupant who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Finally in Miami-Dade County, Duane Billie, 37, drove into oncoming traffic on Tamiami Trail and hit another car. In the other vehicle, Teresa Osceloa, 54, was driving eastbound. Billie crashed his car head-on into Teresa's vehicle and both driver were killed upon impact. Both decedents were Miccosukee tribal members, and Billie was an off-duty Miccosukee police captain.

Sadly, these tragedies that took the lives of 6 people collectively were all avoidable. Some are caused by distracted drivers, others by people taking chances rather than slowing down and avoiding danger. As a result of empirical bad behaviors and bad driving by drivers, Florida is one of the deadliest state in the country, and while the trend over the last 20 years is overall positive, the year-by-year numbers are a cause for concern.

In 2012, there were 281,321 traffic accidents throughout the state of Florida. That is more than any year in the last 20 years. That translates in over 770 accidents per day. Thankfully, the large majority of these are non-fatal accidents. Among them, almost 7 accidents per day will involve a fatality. In 2012, there were 2,430 fatalities on the roads throughout the State of Florida. In a vacuum, that number is quite encouraging when compared to the 2,999 fatalities in 2000, or the 3,533 in 2005. But experts sound the alarm and point to the counter-intuitive trend these numbers show. With car safety improving, and the Florida legislature passing tougher laws, the trend fails to go down as rapidly as it should, and as it was expected.

The outlier the latest fatalities statistics show is the new and generalized behavior adopted by most drivers in the country and also in Florida: the use of cell phones while driving. In the last decade, the apparition of smart phones has been attributed to causing a very large share of traffic accidents and fatalities.

It is too early to say that cell phone and distracted driving behaviors were the cause or at least contributing factors to the six fatalities that occurred this past weekend in South Florida. But the fact that since 2010, the number of smartphone users has almost tripled, goes to show that behavior modification of drivers will soon become, if it hasn't already, the number one concern to challenge in the name of road safety.

Children poisoned by carbon monoxide at Daycare sent to Hospital

Yesterday, 72 children and 10 adults were emergently transferred to the hospital after a carbon monoxide leak was discovered at a daycare facility. Among all the small children, five were clearly more affected by headaches and vomiting. The authorities advised that the leak at "Les Petits Explorateurs" daycare in Quebec was contained and thankfully a tragedy had been avoided. The investigation continues as to how the leak had occurred the first place.

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after inhalation of carbon monoxide, a toxic, odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. Minimal exposure can affect a person in many ways, including fatigue, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. If carbon monoxide poisoning is prolonged over a significant period of time, severe symptoms and health risks will occur such as losing consciousness, permanent brain damage, and death.

In 2008, a Florida law finally passed with the help of Ira H Leesfield, which requires that every building for which a building permit is issued for new construction on or after July 1, 2008, and having a fossil-fuel-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage shall have an approved operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping purposes. (Fla. Stat. § 553.885)

The law was passed soon after the fatal carbon monoxide incident which occurred in a large hotel in Key West, Florida, where a young man and his father were found unresponsive in their hotel room. The room shared a wall with one of the hotel's boiler room. The investigation led by the authorities and different bodies of agency found that the boiler had been operated without the proper permits and had failed to be inspected after several repairs had been done in-house. The young man was fatally poisoned while the father survived.

Despite many states now espousing the same approach than the Florida legislator, fatalities attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning continue to increase:

carbon monoxide statitstics.gif

The avoided-tragedy in Quebec yesterday is a reminder that carbon monoxide poisoning can occur anywhere and can affect family through no fault of their own. The responsibility to prevent such incidents rests on property owners and members of the public to demand safe premises, especially when the members of their family are small children.

Read more about our coverage of carbon monoxide incident here.

Read more about Leesfield Scolaro' results here.

Settlement in personal injury construction case involving toppled crane and operator error

Construction cases are among the most complex and difficult to win often for factual reasons, and always for legal reasons.

This week in Hallandale, a horrific construction site incident occurred when Christopher Ricci, 27, was killed after a crane toppled and fell on him in the Golden Isles neighborhood of Hallandale Beach. At the time, Christopher Ricci was working on a sea wall. "The crane started to topple over. Construction workers noticed what was taking place and they took off running" said Hallandale Beach police Capt. Sonia Quinones. Christopher took off running as well according to witnesses, but he was fatally hit by the boom before he could run for safety.

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Leesfield Scolaro successfully resolved a very similar case than the tragic Hallandale incident of Thursday morning.

In 2008, our client, a labor foreman, was working on a construction site, in charge of setting loads onto the cranes for lifts. One late afternoon, the crane operator decided to lower (or dog) the crane down for the night. The crane was equipped with a 150 foot main boom and 180 luffing boom, the crane operator had to follow a certain procedure in order to properly and safely lower the crane: First the operator must lower the luffing boom and make sure it is not extended before lowering the main boom.

complaint_Page_01.jpgThat day however, instead of lowering the luffing boom first, the operator lowered the main boom while the luffing boom was still extended way too high. Several workers at the site noticed that the crane operator was improperly lowering the main boom with the luffing boom still sticking up. Some yelled and tried to wave off the operator from lowering the crane in this manner. It was too late. A split second later, the crane began to tip forward. Our client, who was setting another load on the crane, was in the direct path of the collapsing crane. Alerted by others' screaming warnings, our client began to run for his life. But while running away, the crane boom struck our client on his hard hat knocking him to the ground. The boom then bounced off the end of a beam, ricocheted to the ground demolishing and crushing our client's right leg.

Thomas Scolaro and Ira Leesfield filed a lawsuit in this case and were successful in reaching a settlement with all parties despite the tough worker's compensation laws in Florida. A copy of the lawsuit can be obtained by contacting Leesfield Scolaro.

Electrocuted workers in Miami Beach in critical condition at Ryder Trauma Center

On 69th Street and Harding Avenue in Miami Beach, two men working on an apartment complex renovations and repairs were violently electrocuted when they came into contact with a power line.

The two workers' identities have yet to be released by the authorities, but some of the facts of this incident seem to be without dispute at this early stage. The two men were in the bucket of a cherry picker. A Miami Beach resident whose window was close from where the incident took place, Greg Maas, woke up to loud screams outside his window. When he looked out into the street, he saw the two men laying flat at the bottom of the bucket.

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Photo courtesy of wsvn - 7News

The responding investigators gathered additional facts and initially concluded that while the two workers were concentrating on the task at hand, the bucket came into contact with a power line, when they were approximately 30 feet up in the air. After the incident occurred, a power line could be observed as having fallen off from its normal fixture, which raises the question whether the power line came into contact with the bucket when it fell or whether the bucket was being negligently operated near the power line in question.

The men were immediately transported by ambulance to Jackson Ryder Trauma Center and their conditions have been listed as critical.

In Florida, when a person becomes injured while working on a construction site, the injured party's recovery against his employer may be affected by workers' compensation laws. However, in many cases, other parties may be legally responsible for causing the injuries in the first place, including third‑party contractors, property owners, or equipment manufacturers. To the extend these parties may be brought into your claim, the ultimate financial recovery will likely not be affected by workers' compensation laws. In some circumstances, the injured person will be able to recover damages directly from the construction company.

For over 38 years, Leesfield Scolaro has strongly and efficiently represented victims of construction accidents. Similar to the incident that occurred today on North Miami Beach, Leesfield Scolaro represented a 16-year-old plaintiff who was electrocuted when touching a metal pole from inside because the internal wiring had come loose. Our firm obtained a $1,265,000 settlement.

In another electrocution case, our firm reached a settlement of $1,135,000 when it represented the parents of a 12-year‑old boy who was electrocuted to death because of improperly wired boat lift. The electrician's license was revoked following this death.

For a complete list of the firm's representative results, visit our website here: www.leesfield.com.

Florida Pedestrians in Great Danger - Cell Phone abuse ignored

pedestrian_hit_mgn.jpegFlorida, the third most populated state in the nation, has tepid or no laws to prevent cell phone or texting abuse, but at the same time, complaint ranking is No. 1 in pedestrian deaths. Leesfield Scolaro, P.A. has been clamoring and pushing the legislature for greater public protection from distracting cell phone/texting excesses. "We are a state of millions of smart phones and stupid drivers," according to Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield, who has written, lectured and lobbied for change:

"Driving While on the Cell Phone-Punitive Damage Awards Should Come Through Loud and Clear." The Brief, American Bar Association, Vol. 36, No. 4, Summer 2007. "Can You Hear Me Now - An Argument for Punitive Damages in Cell Phone Driving Cases." Section Connection, Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability, American Association for Justice, Vol. 13, No. 1 Fall/Winter 2006. "Make the Right Call." The Miami Herald, March 13, 2013. "Driving + Cell Phones = Bad Call." Trial Magazine, American Association for Justice, August 2010.

Leesfield, through the safety efforts of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) has taken the specific platform to underscore the neuro-impairment of a cell phone user while operating a multi-ton vehicle. Motor vehicle accidents should be tracked by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cell phone abuse has now found its way to large waterways, and the number of cell phone deaths and injuries by boat and connected with water sports is dramatically increasing.

Continue reading "Florida Pedestrians in Great Danger - Cell Phone abuse ignored" »

Tragic fatal boating incident in Key Biscayne

On sunday evening, Ernesto Hernandez, 23, was pronounced dead at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he was airlifted following an incident off Nixon beach in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Ernesto was with his family and friends on a sunday afternoon when a nearby motorboat became stuck on a sand bar. Several people jumped out of the boat, including Ernesto, to assist the operator of the boat to free up the vessel from the sand bar. That is when one of the four propeller engines of the boat caught Ernesto and inflicted fatal injuries to his body. Jorge Pino, an investigator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission relayed to the media that the "young man who came to assist ended up in the rear of the vessel and one of the engines and the propeller actually caught his body, his torso." Despite the rescue efforts, first of his friends and family, followed by fire rescue, Ernesto succumbed from the injuries he sustained while helping the vessel.

The boat in question is a 40-foot pleasure boat operated at the time by DJ Laz, a popular South Florida radio voice. The vessel was being used as Pitbull's vodka brand Voli Spirits' promotional boat.

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The investigators have yet to establish what may have happened or caused Ernesto Hernandez to become fatally injured while he was in the process of assisting the boat. Questions of potential alcohol intoxication have been raised, but reports have mentioned that DJ Laz, whose real name is Lazaro Mendez, did not display any signs of being intoxicated. Nonetheless, something went horribly wrong in the early evening hours off Nixon beach.

With main offices in Miami, Key West, and Miami Beach, Leesfield Scolaro has been involved in a large amount of boating incidents. In a similarly tragic case, Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represented a family whose young child was fatally wounded by the propellers of a boat in the Florida Keys. Boating in the State of Florida has multiple safety requirements that many boat operators ignore either due to a lack of knowledge, or because they choose to ignore them.

To read more about the incident mentioned above as well as other cases resolved by Leesfield Scolaro, feel free to click here.

Fatal Electrocution of 7-year-old boy in North Miami likely caused by Code Violation

crClip_6.jpg7-year-old Calder Sloan was in his swimming pool with Gary, the son of his nanny, who was watching Calder and his younger brother Caleb in their home in North Miami Beach when the unthinkable happened. Gary felt a shock and jumped out of the water yelling for Calder to do the same. Calder did not hear him as he was swimming under water at the time. A split second later, Calder was thrown out of the water. Neighbors rushed to the backyard, performed CPR while getting zapped themselves.

Calder was rushed to Jackson North Medical Center, but the young boy could not survive the jolt of electricity that went through his body. The Miami Herald reported power source could have been as much as 120 volts.

crClip_5.jpgA photograph of the pool light showed rust and corrosion which further evidences an electrical circuit issue with the repairs. Calder's father, Chris Sloan, told media that about nine months ago, he had an electrician fix the pool light which was not working properly.

crClip_7.jpgAn electrical inspection of the breaker box revealed that the light switch to the pool was not grounded properly, and that electricity was going directly into the pool rather than being diverted from it.

This tragedy is shockingly similar to the case Leesfield Scolaro took on less than two years ago when 11-year-old, Ashton Jojo, was fatally electrocuted when she retrieved a golf ball from a pond obstacle while playing miniature golf at a resort in Central Florida. The inspection revealed that the pond's electrical breakers were improperly installed and replaced. At the time, official investigators confirmed that the water feature in question was missing its ground fault interrupter (GFI) breakers, which are required by code.

To read more about the investigation and ensuing lawsuit in the Ashton Jojo tragedy, click the links below:

Electrocution suspected in death of 11-year-old - Latest Resort Tort Incident in Florida

Autopsy confirms electrocution caused the death of 11-year-old Orlando Resort guest

Code violation responsible for the fatal electrocution of 11-year-old guest at Central Florida Resort

Awareness of Florida Resort Torts heightened in fatal electrocution case of young child

Leesfield leads Resort Tort fight for family of electrocuted 11-year-old girl

Lawsuit Filed Against Orange Lake Country Club Following 11-Year Old Girl's Electrocution Death

The authorities' investigation continues to uncover the identity of the contractor and electrician who worked on the Sloan's pool light. The work done one the Sloan's pool about nine months ago requires that the contractor apply for a permit to the job, as it is required by the City of North Miami for any pool electrical work that is more complicated than simply changing a light bulb. Applying for a permit ensures that not only the job is done by a competent electrician, but also guarantees that an inspection by city officials is performed before the anybody is granted access to the pool itself, all in the name of safety. However, City building department records indicate that no permits were pulled or inspections were done at the Sloan home in the last twelve months.

While the investigation is ongoing, Calder's family is preparing itself to celebrate the young boy's life, who turned 7 last week. Donations to the Calder Jacob Sloan Legacy Fund can be made here, which will go to benefit Calder's school, Lehrman Community Day School, where he was about to finish his school year as a first grader. The fund information can be found here: DONATIONS TO CALDER JACOB SLOAN LEGACY FUND. Services for Calder will take place Friday, April 18, at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach.


Tivoli Park Management is to blame for drowning of twin toddlers say residents

Last week, two year-old twin sisters Harmony and Harmani West tragically drowned in the swimming pool of their apartment complex, Tivoli Park, in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Since the incident, while the parents are attempted to cope with their brutal and unfair loss, residents and neighbors have clearly and unequivocally placed the blame on the management company for the family's loss.

"The doors don't lock." Residents said in no uncertain terms that the door and gate to the pool is always open. Lou Pena, a fellow resident at Tivoli Park told police and news reporters that the pool door "never locks. Anyone can go in whenever they want I don't blame a little child for wandering in it was going to happen sooner or later."

As discussed last week in our first entry on this tragedy, Florida Law imposes that residential swimming pools be fenced in. At the time of passage of the new law, drowning was the leading cause of death of young children in the state of Florida. The Legislature received testimony of experts throughout the legislative process confirming that constant adult supervision is the key to accomplishing the objective of reducing the number of submersion incidents, and that when lapses in supervision occur a pool safety feature designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool will reduce drowning incidents.

As a result, the new law provided in part that residential swimming pools, such as the one at Tivoli Park, must be fenced in. Florida Statute 515.29 imposes certain standards for apartment complex and large residences in the manner their swimming pools must be fenced in:

Gates that provide access to swimming pools must be self-closing and equipped with a self-latching locking device, the release mechanism of which must be located on the pool side of the gate and so placed that it cannot be reached by a young child over the top or through any opening or gap.

According to statements from residents at Tivoli Park, the management company of the apartment complex did not maintain their property adequately by allowing the door on their swimming pool's fence to remain constantly open. The news report above clearly shows that the latching mechanism was broken at the time of the incident. This essentially caused the fence to be utterly useless as any child could walk through and gain access to the swimming pool, like it happened last week. Tivoli Park is likely negligent for the terrible tragedy that occurred on their property.

Leesfield Scolaro has successfully litigated several injury claims arising out of the negligence of property owners and management companies and the lack of maintenance of pools, commercial pools, and spas: Federal Judge Awards $2.95 Million in Wrongful Death Drowning Cases

Broken lock on swimming pool fence of Deerfield Beach complex leads to the fatal drowning of two twin toddlers

Harmani and Harmony West were just 2 years old, yesterday in Deerfield Beach, they drowned in the pool of the apartment complex in which they lived with their mother. The apartment complex, Tivoli Park, has 6 pools and spas according to their website, all of which are gated with a locked door to prevent these exact incidents to occur. Witnesses did tell authorities that the lock on the pool in which the two small children drowned was broken and did not prevent the toddlers to gain access to the water.

3.jpgAccording to the responding officers, a couple visiting from North Carolina who was staying at Tivoli Park noticed a girl floating in the pool as the man made its way to the hot tub. He jumped in the pool and dragged the girl's body out of the pool as quickly as he could. The woman then noticed a second body. The couple called 911 and efforts to resuscitate were undertaken aggressively performed by CPR. One of the girl was taken to Broward Health Medical Center by ambulance, the other by air, but later that night, both girls were pronounced dead at the hospital.

The early investigation of the officers has shown that somehow the twin girls had somehow been able to exit their apartment and walked to the pool area. The pool was gated, but the lock on the gate was broken and the girls ended up in the pool.

Florida law requires residential swimming pool to be fenced in for safety

fl-twins-drowning-20140408-002.jpgThe Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act became law in 2009 with the sole purpose to reduce the number of drowning incidents and fatalities in the state of Florida. The law requires notably that all outdoor swimming pools must have a 4-foot fence or other barrier around the outer perimeter of the pool, with no gaps in coverage. The barrier must also be sufficiently away from the pool's edge so a child who penetrates the barrier or fence does not immediately fall into the pool. Entry through the barrier and to the pool must open outward and have a self-closing and self-locking device that is beyond a child's reach.

Harmani and Harmony West's incident was a needless tragedy. The swimming pool in which they drowned was fenced in, but the lock that would have prevented the twin girls from gaining access to the pool and drowning, was broken. While the investigation might reveal additional facts, the fact that a lock was allowed to remain broken for an unknown period of time, all the while knowing full well that families with small children were living in the apartment complex, places the blame squarely on the owner and association of Tivoli Park.

Lawsuit filed in case of fatal explosion against Holy Cross Hospital

Last August, Adele Bearman went to Holy Cross Hospital to have routine surgery. Leesfield Scolaro, Ira Leesfield, said in an interview to the Miami Herald and other news outlet: "While they were doing this rather routine surgery, there was a leak from the oxygen mask into the environment. The surgeon, anesthesiologist, and the hospital employees didn't communicate with each other. There was an explosion. She literally caught on fire in the operating room."

A lawsuit was filed on March 4 against Holy Cross and other multiple doctors whom the complaint alleges they were negligent in this action. The complaint reads that "during the operative procedure Mrs. Bearman was supposed to undergo, Dr. Pasternak was the anesthesiologist who was responsible for providing MAC anesthesia to this patient. Dr. Pasternak was providing oxygen, via facemask, at 8 liters per minute at the time. Dr. Bermudez was utilizing electrocautery in close proximity to the flow of oxygen. Dr. Pasternak and Dr. Bermudez failed to communicate with each other concerning the utilization of oxygen via face mask and electrocautery in the proximity with the oxygen and as such created a dangerous, negligent and unsafe condition."

The complaint further alleges that "during the arterial biopsy performed by Dr. Bermudez, there occurred an operative fire caused by the combination of the presence of excessive oxygen and electrocautery with said fire causing burns to the face and additional burns on the chest, oral and nasal mucosal surfaces of Adele Bearman causing substantial pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss of ability to enjoy life, and serious bodily injury for which substantial care and treatment was required from her date of injury to her date of death."