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This week, Partner Justin Shapiro won a $36.6 million verdict on behalf of the parents of a skateboarder struck and killed by a distracted driver. That skateboard verdict follows a very recent jet ski settlement in Key West by Thomas Scolaro and Justin Shapiro in the amount of $2.88 million. “In the last decade, recreational injuries from all sources have skyrocketed, in spite of our law firm’s attempts urging remedial and protective legislation” says, Ira Leesfield, founding partner.

Leesfield Scolaro’s long-term interest in protecting the public from dangerous and unregulated recreational activities began over 25 years ago when Ira Leesfield took on the motorcycle and ATV industries, rounding up over $100 million in settlements and verdicts including a $19.8 million verdict against American Honda in Erie, Pennsylvania. The motorcycle sidestand defect has long been remedied. “3-wheeler ATV’s” have been totally replaced by the more stable 4-wheeler.

However, new activities and enticements have sprung up, including exotic water sports such as jet ski, parasailing, zip-lining, scuba diving, boating collisions, and an entire resort industry promoting “fun” while disregarding safety.

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Nursing-Home-AbuseWhen Ira Leesfield was attending school in Hollywood, Florida, where he grew up, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills did not exist, but the building was part of Leesfield’s paper route and residence area. Leesfield, recipient of the South Broward Professional Women’s award, was shocked reading about the recent gross negligence which caused the tragic death of eight patients at the facility, in violation of Florida Statutes 400.022. Ira Leesfield’s law firm, Leesfield Scolaro, P.A. has handled hundreds of nursing home and institutional injury cases due to nursing home neglect. The most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves are the elderly.

Obviously, this facility was operated on a very thin margin with inadequate staff in number and training. It just took this incident as the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” There is no explanation and no justification for a senior citizen to lose their life while under the care of a nursing facility. “After all, says Leesfield, that’s the whole purpose of a family selecting a nursing facility.”

A long history of successful nursing home litigation by Leesfield Scolaro includes the following:

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Since 2014, Leesfield Scolaro has represented multiple victims of accidental gun discharge, including by “drop fire” where a loaded firearm discharges upon impact with the floor without the trigger ever being pulled.

The increase in accidental gun discharge cases has gone hand-in-hand with the increase in gun sales in the United States – and the numbers are telling. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of firearms processed by the National Firearms Act Branch (NFA) which maintains the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record has skyrocketed. In 2006, the NFA processed 296,127 firearms. In 2016, that number jumped by 850% with 2,538,397 processed firearms.

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Why has this unprecedented increase in gun sales resulted in the explosion of accidental gun discharge cases in last decade?

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Hotel, travel and tourism injuries rapidly increase with inadequate security and safety neglect on premises. Once again, Airbnb has been sued by a guest claiming another host at the property assaulted her. Of course, Airbnb and Vrbo do not do a background check which would have prevented this alleged sexual assault, nor do they have any security measures and typical keys, locks and door protection. This is a wide open area of vulnerability according to Leesfield Scolaro Founding Partner, Ira Leesfield who chairs the American Association for Justice Resort Torts Litigation Group.

There are ongoing battle rages between the hotel/public accommodation industry and Airbnb about the increasing shift of travelers from traditional hotels to less protected “homey” environments.

Airbnb not only fails to check on the guest, but also does not run background check or security analysis of the host renters. The lawsuit filed by Leslie Lapayowker, and reported in The Guardian contends that a background check would have uncovered the fact that the owner had been arrested and charged with battery, and prevented from listing his property on Airbnb. The plaintiff alleges that she was held in a chair, against her will, as the host proceeded to masturbate in front of her.

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Ira Leesfield, founder and managing partner of Leesfield Scolaro, P.A., was recently reappointed by Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to serve on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) representing the Southern District Conference for the duration of the 115thCongressional term.

The JNC performs a critical public service in helping to identify the most qualified candidates to serve as U.S. District Court Judges in Florida. The JNC’s recommendations guide which prospective nominees will be forwarded to the White House for the President’s consideration.

As a member of the JNC, Mr. Leesfield will play an active role in this thorough review process.

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Boating season is upon us, kicked off during Memorial Day weekend only days away.  During the last weekend of Spring, South Florida will once again become the boating capital of the world for many weeks to come, and each year around this time Ira H. Leesfield, renews its boating safety warnings to the public and businesses who partake in recreational boating.

Focusing on boat tours, South Florida offers a wide range of attractions that entertain countless visitors and locals alike.  Zipping through the Star Islands aboard a speedboat, gliding on an Airboat in the Everglades, renting a mini catamaran off Key Biscayne, touring the Florida Keys on a jet-ski, paddle-boarding with friends off the Bay, parasailing along North Miami Beach, kitesurfing or windsailing along Coral Gables and Coconut Grove, these are just a few available attractions where visitors rely on the experience, training, and competence of tour operators for their ultimate safety.

Unfortunately, there is no avoiding boat accidents at this time of year, yet, incomprehensibly, none of these accidents should ever occur.  Whether a boat tour operator drives its vessel too fast, in a careless manner, causing injuries or death to its passengers, or whether a boat capsizes due to the overloading of passengers, or even whether two vessels collide due to alcohol consumption or lack of training, every single boat accident is avoidable.

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004-TextingLawA new study revealed that 92% of motorists use their phone while operating their vehicle.  That reality must sink in.  Whether you are in traffic, stopped at a red light, making 60mph on the highway, a pedestrian walking across an intersection, a bicyclist on a Sunday morning run, or in an Uber, understand that you are simply 100% at risk of injury.  More and more, motorists see being in a moving car as being in a moving elevator: an opportunity to check emails, respond to texts, send a snap, read a story on Facebook, take a selfie to post on Instagram.  The obvious difference is one is potentially deadly.  This reality will remain true until we all operate self-driving vehicles.

For the last time, Floridians are undeniably on notice: Florida is the second-worst state for distracted driving.  The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ statistics show that a distracted driving-related accident will occur every 10-12 minutes in Florida.  That adds up to almost 50,000 crashes involving distracted-driving, and the consequences are life-altering, causing 3,500 catastrophic injuries and 233 deaths in 2016.

Just a few days ago, Ira H. Leesfield and Adam Rose published an op-ed titled “Texting while driving is nothing to ‘LOL’ about” in the Daily Business Review stressing the urgency of public officials to act before more lives are lost and affected by this behavioral epidemic.

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Steady growth and continued client satisfaction marks the 40th anniversary of Leesfield Scolaro, P.A., as our statewide practice expands.  This year, trial lawyers Mason Kerns and Adam T. Rose joined the Leesfield Scolaro team.

2-panel-Texas-mailer_Final-1_resize-236x300 2-panel-Texas-mailer_Final-2_resize-236x300The firm continues to serve the State of Florida as our offices from Key West and Central Florida attract local and out-of-state business.    A recent influx of clients and cases from the great state of Texas has allowed our firm to serve longtime co-counsel and friends with high value recent results.   See “Texas Cases from Texas Places” (right).  Texas visitors combined with clients and referrals from 26 other U.S. states, Canada, United Kingdom and around the world, have reinforced the firm’s cases from other places.

We have been fortunate to bring about outstanding results for clients nationwide and around the world, including:

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medical malpracticeWith the prices you pay at the hospital, you shouldn’t have to worry about asinine medical errors. Yet they abound. As quality medicine standard-bearer Johns Hopkins recently reported, medical errors are now the THIRD leading cause of death in the United States. The Johns Hopkins study was a follow-up to a similar report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Startlingly, medical errors kill 250,000 people per year in the United States—trailing only (1) heart disease (614,000) and (2) cancer (591,000), and ahead of (4) stroke (133,103), (5) Alzheimer’s disease (94,000), (6) diabetes (76,000), (7) flu and pneumonia (55,000), (8) kidney failure (48,000), and (9) suicide (43,000). Not a good list to be near the top of, to say the least.

Perhaps the most avoidable of all medical negligence is the Unintended Retained Foreign Object (URFO)—a euphemism for “surgeon leaves [scalpel/sponge/forceps/clamp/scissors] in patient and sews her up.” A 2013 study found that hundreds of these events occur each year, many causing death. Ninety-five percent of UFROs resulted in additional care and/or an extended hospital stay. The total costs related to a UFRO is said to be $200,000 per incident.

Thankfully, the legislature and courts have rightfully decided that URFOs are a “never event” in a hospital—an event that, if people are being reasonably careful, will never, ever happen. In that vein, under Florida law, “the discovery of the presence of a foreign body, such as a sponge, clamp, forceps, surgical needle, or other paraphernalia commonly used in surgical, examination, or diagnostic procedures, shall be prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of the health care provider.” Fla. Stat. § 766.102(b).

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People who want to take your rights away depend primarily this supposition: America is full of useful idiots.

Exacerbating this problem is TV news, which is exactly as informative as a cartoon strip. Speaking of cartoon strips: Newspapers, the last bastion of actual journalism, continue to die. If not resuscitated soon, you won’t be able to line your cat box with them, let alone read a new edition.

If being un- or mal-informed hurt only one’s chances at winning trivia night at the local bar, that might be tolerable. The problem is that not understanding and misunderstanding issues changes how we think, act, and vote on important matters. And it’s killing us.

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