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Photographer: Tim Shortt
Media: Florida Today

Last week, two out of four boaters were killed after their airboat flipped in the air while traveling up the St. Johns River in Melbourne, Florida. Eyewitness and fellow airboater Timothy Young told USA Today the airboat “was going kind of fast” and the “back half of the boat was sitting kind of low” before the incident occurred, suggesting operator error may not be the sole cause for the tragedy.

Like in any boating incident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) is in charge of the investigation and finding out whether the driver was negligent or whether the incident was precipitated by some sort of maintenance issue or mechanical failure.

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https://www.floridainjurylawyer-blawg.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/257/2017/11/medical-appointment-doctor-healthcare-40568.jpeg-300x200.jpgTurned down by other law firms, a young widow whose husband had been abhorrently ignored by ER doctors at a Florida Hospital turned to Leesfield Scolaro for help. Ten months later, Partner Thomas Scolaro and Attorney Mason Kerns were able to secure a multi-million dollar settlement during the claim’s pre-suit period, for the loss of her husband and for her young son’s loss of his father.

Earlier this year, Scolaro and Kerns reached another multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of an adolescent girl whose doctor failed to recognize that his patient had sustained a stroke. The doctor’s unbelievable failure to diagnose caused delay in administering known effective treatment. Due to this physician’s negligence, our 17-year-old client was left with permanent cerebral sequelae which have drastically altered the quality of the remainder of her life.

These catastrophic medical malpractice cases were the main target of previous Administrations who actively sought (and succeeded to) limit the recovery of medical malpractice victims through arbitrary and unconstitutional laws. Indeed, since 2003, Justice for medical malpractice victims has been very hard to obtain due to insurance company-friendly laws. Governor Jeb Bush at the time forced the passage of statutory caps for plaintiffs who had been victims of medical malpractice, limiting the monetary compensation they rightfully deserved. The preeminent argument was that malpractice insurance premiums for Florida doctors were skyrocketing and causing good doctors to flee the state as a consequence.

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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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