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In just 11 months, Partner Justin Shapiro secured a $16 million settlement for his clients, an elderly couple from New York who was savagely attacked while staying in a South Miami hotel.  That day the individual defendant walked into the hotel, through the lobby, straight into an elevator to the 7th floor where he knocked on the couple’s guestroom door.  As soon as the husband opened the door, the individual punched him in the face, lunged at him and pushed his way inside the guestroom before biting him on the back of his neck and strangling him.  They fought for five long minutes before the assailant turned his aggression to the wife, chasing her outside the hallway, punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground.September-2022-full-page-ad-FBN-Negligent-Security-206x300

At that time, three hotel and security employees showed up in the elevator.  They stood directly in front of the aggressor as he continued to viciously beat up on our client.  Our client was crying for help and bleeding profusely, but shockingly the employees did nothing.  They let the attacker dragged his victim by the hair onto the elevator, she was helplessly screaming at the top of lungs as the elevator door closed.

Nobody knew on which floor the elevator had stopped but CCTV captured the rest of the most brutal sexual assault that took place five floors below.  On the footage, the assailant is seen forcefully dragging the wife out of the elevator as she tried to fend him off.  Ultimately he overpowered her, and punched her across the face over 30 times as he stood above her.  In utter savagery he bit her face so violently that a large chunk of flesh ripped off her forehead.  She was almost lifeless.  He then ordered her to perform oral sex on him.  She resisted him.  He punched her again and again, strangled her, until she had no choice but to do what he said.  It lasted several minutes before he forced himself on top of her and raped her in the middle of the hallway.  When the police finally arrived to stop the attack, our client had endured the most horrific ten minutes of her life where she was raped, defaced and mutilated.

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Miami, June 2022 – Partner Adam Rose secured a record-setting verdict on behalf of his clients, a family whose daughter was killed and son incapacitated by a drunk driver who was overserved at a popular Miami bar. While the reading of the jury’s verdict gave the family the satisfaction of knowing that some justice was served, it could do nothing to change the cruel reality of two broken-hearted parents who have lost everything.

While on their way to drop their daughter off at the airport for a flight to medical school orientation, the family car was hit head-on by a drunk driver speeding in the wrong direction on I-95. Their daughter, 23, was killed in the crash, and their son, 21, suffered catastrophic brain and orthopedic injuries, leaving him in a wheelchair, unable to speak, and requiring round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. The drunk driver had spent the night and early morning bar hopping and getting obliterated before making the terrible and fateful decision to get behind the wheel.

At trial, the Miami jury was visibly moved by Dad when he took the stand and tried to explain in his own words the unimaginable agony, grief, and struggle to carry on that he and his entire family wrestle with every day. Dad, who moved to America with his daughter and son when they were 6 and 4, shared with the jury that everything he and his wife did in life from the moment on was to make sure their children had every opportunity possible.

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We previously reported it here, Leesfield Scolaro represents the families of two fatally injured victims who died when they were parasailing near Key West in July 2020. The captain was charged with manslaughter for conducting parasailing activities in winds too strong under Florida Law.  Early on in our investigation it became clear from the collected weather data and the testimony obtained later in the case that the operator should have cancelled all parasailing activities hours before the incident occurred.  All signs of inclement, dangerous weather and gusty winds were present.  The other two parasailing tour operators had cancelled their activities, but captain Andrew John Santeiro pushed through and exposed Nicholas Hayward, 36, and Azalea Silva, 29, to a grave peril.

The captain knew at the time that bad weather was coming for having observed a gathering storm on the other side of the island prior to embarking twelve passengers on his boat. Nonetheless, he disregarded the risk and pushed through. He also knew that the anemometer (instrument for measuring the speed of the wind) aboard the ship was broken and that he would have to rely solely on weather apps downloaded on his phone to obtain limited information. Not only does the phone fail to provide real-time reading, it also fails to provide accurate information relative to the precise location of the boat. To add insult to injury, captain Santeiro said he does not even remember checking the weather on his phone before the flight.

So he deployed the chute (wrong-size) with Nicholas and Azalea harnessed to it. Within seconds after sending them up, a gust of wind blew into the chute, almost capsizing the boat. In an instant, the towline broke, releasing the two passengers in flight to be dragged in the water by the inflated chute. At the same time, the towline snapped back into the boat’s propeller, leaving it dead in the water and unable to go rescue the couple stuck under water. Nicholas died at the scene, and Azalea died months later from her injuries.

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-Miami, FL – Ira Leesfield, a national leader in resort injuries recoveries and Chairman of the American Association for Justice Resort Torts Litigation Group, issued precautions to hotel guests and travelers– “Check out safety protocols online before you book or arrive.”  The Miami-based law firm of Leesfield Scolaro, P.A. has represented families and estates in numerous carbon monoxide cases in hotels and public accommodations, resulting from improper ventilation and equipment failure, against resorts in Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean, including gas leaks and injuries from Legionnaire’s disease. Leesfield recovered a multi-million dollar result for the Schulz family in a gas explosion case at a Caribbean resort.

Clip_resize“We now have pending serious cases from families impacted by Legionnaire’s disease because of negligent maintenance at the resorts, which accompany fatalities from carbon monoxide and gas poisoning,” says Ira Leesfield, Chair of the AAJ Resort Tort Litigation Group. Leesfield Scolaro has a 46-year history of representing injured travelers from Europe and throughout the United States for resort and cruise ship based injuries. The firm serves as co-counsel to numerous out-of-state law firms in serious personal injury cases.

Ira Leesfield is Founder and Managing Partner of Leesfield Scolaro, P.A. with offices in Miami, Key West/Monroe County and Central Florida/Orlando. He is board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocates, focusing his practice on cases involving serious personal injury, wrongful death, resort torts, cruise ship and maritime litigation, motor vehicle accidents, product and premises liability, aviation, negligent security and medical malpractice. He served as President of the Florida Justice Association and The Melvin Belli Society. With more than 40 years of trial experience, he has advanced new practice areas and has been recognized as America’s leading advocate for the victims of resort torts.

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To gather facts and to determine early on whether insurance coverage is available is the first priority for every personal injury attorney presented with a new potential case. On the issue of coverage, if the answer is “none”, or “minimal”, almost all lawyers will abruptly end the conversation and turndown the case.

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Had Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro followed the wrong-way herd, one of our pedestrian clients would have collected zero dollar. Experience, dedication and legal tenacity allowed for a $1.4 million recovery instead (more on that case below). Bottom line is, if insurance coverage is seemingly lacking, all personal injury attorneys must ban the practice of summarily turning down a potential case without conducting a proper investigation of the facts and of all defendants’ assets.

Leverage Acquired = Ten Times the Combined Coverage

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Thomas-Scolaro-Justin-Shapiro-Leesfield-Scolaro-03-1“There has never been a case more fit for a resounding punitive damages award. Nothing will prevent the jury from considering every sickening detail of Corizon’s neglect and every profit-driven decision that resulted in Evan Kennard’s agonizing death now that we have secured punitive damages on behalf of Evan’s wife and 9-year-old daughter.”

-Partners Thomas Scolaro and Justin Shapiro

Evan Kennard (age 29) was admitted to Polk County Jail with a life-threatening heart infection and symptoms so alarming that any competent healthcare professional would have immediately rushed him to an emergency room. Instead, the jail’s private healthcare contractor, Corizon, ignored Evan’s worsening symptoms and deprived him of life-saving treatment for seven days as he deteriorated into a corpse. Corizon neglected Evan at every turn and only sent him to the emergency room after he became unresponsive, brain-dead, severely septic, 40 pounds lighter, with pressure ulcers, soaked in his own urine, with no chance of survival. Corizon’s own Medical Director, Margie Gomez, MD, admitted in deposition that her medical staff committed “egregious violations of protocols” in Evan’s care and treatment throughout his limited time in the jail.  In fact, every single Corizon doctor and nurse deposed in this matter admitted to numerous protocol violations, and they blamed each other for Corizon’s grossly indifferent lack of humanity to this dying husband and father.

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Over the last 45 years, especially in the last 1000 days, Leesfield Scolaro’s negligent security practice has seen first hand the dire consequences of the escalation of violent crime and the increasing number of innocent victims needlessly killed, battered, or raped.

The last two years have brought on much anxiety to all of us. The ripple effect of world economies shutting down has caused local economies and its people to suffer the most. The atmosphere of uncertainty has been a significant contributing factor to the resurgence of crime in our communities, especially the most violent crimes.Petition-Family-Safety-Issue_Page_5_resize-300x261

According to Statista, violent crimes are the worst they have been in the last 10 years. The number of aggravated assaults is the highest we have seen in the last 23 years, and the number of murders & non-negligent manslaughters has been this high since 1995.

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Last week, the driver of a scooter was fatally injured in an incident with a UPS driver in Miami Beach. The reports at the time have collectively made a point to say that the operator of the scooter was not wearing a helmet, almost impuning them. Florida drivers know full-well that helmets are not required to operate a motorcycle or a scooter/moped. Whether in the court of public opinion or court of law, not wearing a helmet is not a reason to accuse an innocent driver of wrongdoing, without knowing all facts surrounding an incident, including this latest fatal collision.

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Read Ira Leesfield and Justin Shapiro’s article published in Trial on ways to approach litigation involving e-scooters and sharing services.

Let us be very clear. In general, when a scooter operator -not wearing a helmet- is thrashed by another vehicle, the focus is not and never should be on the helmet. The one and only cause for the incident in that scenario is the negligent, often reckless driver of the at-fault vehicle, who expressed utter disregard for other motorists on the road. Defense attorneys attempt to take the focus away from the main thing, which is their client’s negligence. The strategy is to appeal to the general population’s biases against motorcycles, scooters and mopeds in general, which makes us look for a reason to blame the victim. For the past 45 years, Leesfield Scolaro has litigated countless cases while representing families whose spouse, child or parent was killed by another vehicle, including commercial trucks.

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Everyday 1,000 people go to emergency rooms across the country to treat for dog bite injuries, and approximately 15,000 people need to be hospitalized with life-threatening injuries every year. Florida has a 40% dog ownership rate, and many owners have more than one dog. Consequently, it is not uncommon for guests, bystanders, neighbors and relatives to be bitten while visiting the home of a dog owner. When injured, where can the victim turn to? What about insurance exclusions?

Below are five different scenarios – five cases handled by Leesfield Scolaro – which resulted in the victims receiving compensation despite low odds of recovery.

Florida Law

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casino-594157_640-300x200Earlier today, an explosion happened at the Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, FL.  The floor of the casino was open to patrons and workers were performing maintenance checks of the casino’s fire suppression systems.  The early reports describe that the workers were checking an area of the casino with quite a lot of equipment.  Once the check was over for one of the gas tanks used to suppress fire ruptured.  An explosion followed, sending debris to the main casino floor where patrons were located.  In all, 26 people were injured in the event, 6 of which were transported to the hospital with significant injuries.

Partners Thomas Scolaro and Justin Shapiro recently represented a client involved in a similar case where an explosion at a home caused significant burn and orthopedic injuries to the resident resulting in a 6-figure settlement.  In another matter, Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represented an employee who became injured while performing maintenance at a large international outlet store.  The store’s negligence caused the worker to fall 10 feet without notice and sustain catastrophic injuries.

In the Seminole Classic Casino explosion, several claims will have to be brought forward not only to compensate the victims, and to make certain that such event never occurs again. The question of tribal immunity will be discussed in the coming weeks and months, especially if one or more of the hospitalized victims sustained catastrophic injuries.

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