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We enter our 45th year, welcoming Carlos M. Macias to our litigation team. In addition to his active membership in the Florida Bar, Cuban American Bar Association and Florida Justice Association, he is also admitted in the District of Columbia and Louisiana reinforcing our longtime strategic alliances throughout the country.

Leesfield Scolaro’s presence is now recognized in 31 jurisdictions throughout the United States. In conjunction with National co-counsel, we have become America’s most geographically diverse personal injury firm as we begin 2021. Working with lawyers from Alaska, Washington State, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, and Texas, just to name a few, we have now aggregated over a billion dollars of recovery to out-of-state clients for unexpected events in Florida.

Similarly, of the 67 counties in Florida, we have had the opportunity to litigate, in 33 different courthouses with record-breaking results. Results are the engine of our geographic diversity,” says Senior Partner, Ira Leesfield, Past President of Florida Justice Association, The Melvin M. Belli Society, and a 25-year Board member of the American Association for Justice. Ira has been an invited guest speaker at almost every State Trial lawyer association in America and three countries outside of the United States. His goal is to complete all 50 states by the next decade.

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When a Cape Coral man was left severely injured in an explosion on his outdoor patio because someone had accidentally left a gas grill turned on, his attorneys felt all signs pointed to a cleaning company that had stopped by the day before.

Plaintiffs attorneys Tom Scolaro and Justin Shapiro had a problem, though. No direct evidence actually proved that a cleaning service staff member had been negligent — meaning, technically, it could have been anyone. The premises liability lawsuit that ensued ultimately hinged on a single deposition, as Scolaro and Shapiro found one witness’s lie boxed the defendant into settling the claims for its $2 million insurance policy limit.

Scolaro-and-ShapiroShapiro and Scolaro, partners at Leesfield Scolaro in Miami, represented plaintiff James Dastra. He hired Sparkle and Shine Cleaning Service of SWFL LLC to professionally clean his house about twice a month, including his propane grill on the patio. Dastra’s complaint claimed their last visit put him in serious danger, alleging one cleaner caused highly-flammable propane to leak and build up by inadvertently leaving a burner knob switched on after cleaning it.

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Since 1976, victims of negligent truck drivers have placed their trust in Leesfield Scolaro’s trucking attorneys to fight for them. In 2020, Attorneys Thomas Scolaro, Adam Rose and Thomas Graham have recovered a combined $5million for two clients whose lives were impacted by reckless truck drivers. The experience and determination displayed in these two cases is what separates Leesfield Scolaro, the longest-established personal injury firm in South Florida, from other firms with fewer trials under their belt.

leesfield-trucking-practice-1024x646Our history with trucking cases dates back to five decades ago when Ira H. Leesfield, founding partner, settled a $5.3 million case on behalf of a young woman who was catastrophically injured by a distracted Winn-Dixie truck driver. At the time, this was the largest settlement ever obtained in South Florida and the creative lawyering was the central feature in the Miami News. That settlement today (with inflation) would equate to around $13,000,000. Our past trucking cases include a $8,650,000 settlement on behalf of teenagers, $3,000,000 settlement in Orange County, $1,000,000 above the policy limits on behalf of an injured truck driver, $7,995,467 arbitration award, $5,350,000 settlement obtained on behalf of a bicyclist in Key West.

Since the 1980s, our trucking accident practice has grown exponentially. In 1983, Ira H. Leesfield, in coordination with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America National College of Advocacy, started a workshop for fellow attorneys on the topic of “Motor Vehicle Litigation” which included in large part how to litigate trucking cases in the face of life-altering damages. Over the years, with an immaculate track record, out-of-state attorneys referred their Florida-based trucking cases to our firm. Today, with well-over $300 million recovered on behalf of clients injured on the road – not just trucking accident victims – our clients know that our vigorous our aggressive representation will produce the best results, leaving zero dollar on the table.

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Josh was a broken man. Devastated from an unspeakable shooting tragedy that ravaged his family he was disillusioned from having his case turned down by Florida’s most prominent negligent security firm. When his personal family attorney tried to refer Josh to that other firm, he heard things like ‘impossible’, ‘a tragedy but not a case’, ‘likely to lose’, and then he heard ‘NO’. Those sentiments were terrible blows to Josh’s already gaping open-wounds. He felt completely and utterly hopeless.

Luckily, Josh’s well-intentioned family attorney did not take ‘no’ for an answer and reached out to Tom Scolaro having heard of his tenacity and success where others have said ‘no’. Mr. Scolaro understood that this case was previously investigated and vetted and ultimately declined by this top negligent security firm. Having litigated and tried many negligent security cases, he was not going to let another law firm’s decision affect his independent analysis. Mr. Scolaro saw a family man that was hurt and grieving for his loss and promised that he would take a fresh look at everything and turn over every stone. Despite the daunting facts, bad law and a team of expert witnesses that were sure to be hired by the biggest defense firms in the country, Mr. Scolaro had a hunch. On that hunch, the Leesfield Scolaro firm took on the case, immediately filed the lawsuit and began intensive litigation which lasted over a year. Through discovery and depositions, Mr. Scolaro was able to prove that the assailant that killed his own family never should have been allowed to live on the premises in the first place. He successfully argued that the domestic nature of the crime, the cold-hard brutality and the assailant’s resolve to commit the heinous murder was ultimately irrelevant to the fact that he never should have been on the property in the first place. If he was not allowed to be on the property in the first place, he ultimately successfully proved that this incident would not have occurred.

ts-graphic-02Mr. Scolaro understood why the other firm turned down the case. It was a nearly impossible hill to climb but his passion for justice and helping people is all that he sees in front of him. The entire Leesfield Scolaro team takes a personal approach to each case they are working on. Even though we do this day in and day out, it is the client’s only case and it is their most important case. We take that to heart and pursue each case as though it is the only one we have. It is a philosophy that has served the firm and its clients well over the last five decades.

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Dear Colleagues:

Justin Shapiro joined our firm in February 2010, as a law clerk, and in 2011, after graduation with magna cum laude honors from the University of Miami School of Law, he became an associate. Of course, no one knew where that would lead, but he was ambitious, attentive and immediately welcomed into an established culture of achievement for over 40 years at Leesfield Scolaro. Then, as now, we emphasized the values of inclusion, communication, teamwork and a commitment to our clients and the Firm’s outstanding results.

A 40-year learning path is not insignificant, especially, when Justin and so many others here have adopted our value system directed towards professional growth and community involvement. So, Justin worked long, hard hours, he paid attention, he cared, he started a family (a wife and two beautiful children), he did not complain, he took care of our clients and treated our traditions with respect and concern. In short, he paid his dues.

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At 830 Brickell Plaza, home of the future second tallest building in Miami (57 floors and 724 feet tall), a horrific incident occurred at the construction site. Reports relay that six construction workers were injured when a crane carrying a heavy load of rebar malfunctioned and crash to the ground. The steel bars were being transferred from a flatbed of an 18-wheel truck when the crane gave way. This resulted in several worked becoming trapped under the rubble, and at least two of them were impaled by the steel bars.

830-Brickell-Plaza-300x142For every construction site incident, OSHA is in charge of the official investigation and will have “final say” in determining the causes or contributing factors. In parallel, every single company working at the side will also launch their own private investigation, which undoubtedly will point to additional or different results. Such is the reality of construction cases when you have layer upon layer of different subcontractors.

Ultimately, we will all come to an understanding as to what happened and how it happened. Incredibly however, within hours of the incident, Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez declared that “something malfunctioned and it came loose”. While we all understand this statement is hardly buttressed by any physical evidence, it is solely based on second- or third-hand knowledge, likely to have come from a company statement, either the general contractor, or the subcontractor who employs the crane operator. It is important to stress upon the reader that construction site incidents take years to fully investigate and that rushing to make an out-of-bounds statement, when the dust has not even settled, is irresponsible at best.

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Dear Friends:

Drawing1_resizeOur firm, concentrating on personal injury and wrongful death cases over the past 46 years, has always been six lawyers or less. The flexibility smaller firms enjoy has never been more important. The COVID crisis requires thinking and re-thinking our business plans.

Responding to the special development needs of our practices, may we offer some specific suggestions that may be worth considering during these challenging times?

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At the beginning of 2020, a new moped-sharing company was authorized to launch in Miami. South Florida became the latest theater of operation for the Brooklyn-based company, Revel, which is already operational in five States across the country. The app-based business that launched about a year ago is in full flurry and joins the e-scooter businesses that have been allowed to operate across countries and continents for three years.

While the ability to rent a fast-moving mobility vehicle at your fingertips sounds exciting, the disregard to the public’s safety remains incredibly unchecked. As a result, there has been an incredible increase in untrained riders sharing the road with bicyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists.  Much like its predecessors, Revel offers its customers the possibility to rent and ride a moped 24/7 by simply using their free phone-app. The app requires riders to be 21 with a valid driver’s license and a credit card. The app offers free lessons to beginners and requires that all riders wear a helmet included with the scooter.

A quick review of the Help section of the company’s website describes that Revel revokes the $25,000 liability insurance if the rider does not to wear a helmet (It is legal in Florida to ride a 2-wheel vehicle without a helmet if you are over 21). In other words, if a helmet-less Revel rider hits you while crossing the street, Revel will not cover for your injuries, despite their permissible driver’s negligence. Rather, Revel tells us that the rider’s car insurance policy will step in its stead. All good now? Not quite. In Florida, a moped is always excluded from car insurance policies, which means that you were just injured by an uninsured driver. As the victim, you are now responsible for your own medical bills and there is nothing you can do about it.

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On April 5th, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning to consumers about the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play after another infant death, the tenth tragedy in less than 4 years.

The statement warns that infants aged 3 months or older, who are able to roll over while seated unrestrained in the Fisher-Price sleep, will be able to turn to their stomach or on their side and suffocate. CPSC recommends consumers to stop using the product when the infant is three months of age, or as soon as an infant exhibits rollover capabilities.

Needless to say, additional steps must be taken to reach as many consumers as possible. Many parents will continue to use the product unless Fisher-Price reaches out to or attempts to reach out to all of them.

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The E-bike Epidemic.

Like disease bearing mosquitos, E-bikes have taken over the safety and tranquility of the American modern city.  They are everywhere, left randomly on streets, sidewalks and alleys, littering our cityscape with unsightly and unusual dangers.  If you haven’t noticed, greed and stupidity have invaded your everyday life, with a strong promise to make your locomotion more dangerous, fill the emergency rooms with foreseeable hazards, and threaten the overall well-being of the public to fill the coffers of some and the thrills of others.

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Why the E-bike?  There is no good explanation!  Under the present regime, this motorized and bastardized “bike” can travel at speeds up to 30 mph.  But, travel where and driven by whom?  There is no designation or provision as to where these insects may go or land. Do they belong on the street, the sidewalk, in bike lanes, shopping centers, parking lots, malls, or just anywhere they please… Again, no rules!  Can they be driven by an 8 year-old, an 80 year-old, is there training, instruction, guidance, rules or requirements for operation?  Again, no!

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