Articles Posted in Catastrophic Injury

Published on:

When we are engaged to represent a client and take on their case we become their advocate and we fight for them because they cannot. We give a voice to the voiceless. We fight for the injured. We champion their cause and their case with every resource and every ounce of talent and energy we have. We do this because, not only is it the right thing to do, but also because each client and each relationship we have with our clients is personal. We truly believe that our clients remain clients for life long after the case is resolved and long after we have achieved a financial recovery for them.

Set0001 - DSC_6054.JPGJust recently we resolved the case of a motorcycle accident victim who lost a leg as a result of a county employee running a stop sign. The inattentive driver rolled his truck up to the stop sign clueless to crossing traffic and our client’s oncoming motorcycle and blew right through the intersection without thinking twice. Our client had no choice but to lay down his bike to avoid a head on crash with the side of the truck and certain death. Unfortunately, the back wheels rolled over his leg resulting in a traumatic amputation at the knee. We undertook representation knowing full well that any real recovery was highly unlikely given that the negligent party was a county employee protected by the state sovereign immunity cap of just $200,000. With past hospital bills alone of over $400,000 we rejected the county’s settlement offer of $200,000. After two years of litigation, multiple lawsuits and incredibly creative and aggressive representation, we secured a multi-million dollar settlement for our client.

Today we handed him his first of several settlement checks. A very humble man, our client started to thank us but we stopped him from any such praise. The true thanks goes out to him and his resolve and for believing in us and giving us the honor of fighting for him. When we met, he was just coming out of surgery where he lost his leg. We were up front and honest with him about the financial obstacles that his case faced with sovereign immunity. We saw him crying and hopeless and full of anxiety about the future. With that we went to work and devoted two years to fight for him and obtain justice for our client. Through the case, we saw him fight through depression and readjusting to life as an amputee. It was his resolve that pushed us every day and knowing that he was fighting to regain his life, we would fight for him no matter what it took.

Published on:

The vast majority of personal injury victims contact a lawyer intending to make claims against a specific entity for a specific wrongdoing. The victims often evaluate their case and form their own theories of liability before they are ever guided by an experienced trial lawyer. Unfortunately, many lawyers then evaluate cases based on their clients’ impressions without broadening their imagination and looking at the entire picture.

Our firm was recently contacted by a mother in reference to a potential medical malpractice case for her 12-year-old son. Our client’s concern was that her son underwent surgery to repair his fractured femur (thigh bone) with metal rods, and the metal rods ultimately broke free from the bone, requiring a painful second surgery. Our client thought this complication occurred because the first surgery was done negligently. Our firm investigated and concluded that the complication was likely an inherent risk of surgery rather than negligence.

Untitled-2.jpgFor many lawyers, the evaluation would have ended there. However, our firm inquired further and asked how the boy’s leg was fractured. Our client believed that was a dead end. She explained that the injury occurred when a 13-year-old girl accidentally fell on him at the girl’s house. As we learned more, it was discovered that the girl, who was much larger than the boy, had been physically harassing him for several days with unwanted horseplay. The girl’s father, who was supposed to be supervising them, knew of this abuse and failed to prevent it or separate the children. Our firm made a claim against the father’s homeowner’s insurance policy under a Negligent Supervision theory. Within just days of receiving our lawsuit, the insurance carrier offered their full policy limits of $300,000, to compensate our client’s son.

Published on:

Yesterday, we reported on the tragic accident that took the life of a bicyclist and seriously injured another in a hit and run accident that occurred in Key Biscayne in the early morning hours.

Alejandro Alvarez.jpgIn the last 24 hours, police has released additional information on what caused the accident, and the identities of the people involved. 21-year-old Alejandro Alvarez was arrested by police after he admitted to running over bicyclists Walter Reyes, and Henry Hernandez. Walter Reyes succumbed to his injuries at the scene, while Henry Hernandez was emergently taken to Mercy Hospital for serious physical injuries. Henry is said to be in stable condition at this time.

Upon admitting being at the wheels of the 2014 VW Jetta involved in the incident, Alvarez was arrested by police. He is currently behind bars and facing multiple criminal charges, including manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Published on:

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.”

Published on:

At dawn this morning in Miami, a Chevy pick-up truck traveling eastbound on Northeast 15th Street, in downtown Miami, was t-boned by a white Daimler SMART car traveling southbound on Biscayne Boulevard. One of the investigators told the media that it is believed the driver of the SMART car failed to stop at a stop sign or a red light, which was the cause for the two vehicle to collide at such a high rate of speed.

car2go-crash.jpegThe incident occurred at approximately 4:45am on Wednesday August 14, 2013. The passenger of the SMART car, a young woman in her twenties was fatally injured and died at the scene. The driver of the SMART car was critically injured and rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The condition of the driver of the pick-up truck remain unknown but reporters have shared that there are serious concerns he may have sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury and may be paralyzed. (Photo on the left courtesy of Miami Herald)

The SMART car involved in this incident, whose driver was supposedly at fault, was a CAR2GO vehicle. According to the company’s website, CAR2GO is a mobility program launched in Austin, Texas back in November 2009. The company provides a fleet of free-floating vehicles distributed all over the city. Individuals who become members of CAR2GO have the ability to use any vehicle from the CAR2GO fleet at any time.

Published on:

On May 15, 2013, County employee Alfredo Menendez was placed on leave for ramming his county truck into several stopped vehicle, causing a pileup accident at the intersection of Flagler and Lejeune Road in Miami. According to reports in the local media, witnesses saw the county truck run a red light and crash into a vehicle before swerving off the road and slam into a bus bench on Lejeune Road. The violence of the crash and the speed at which the county truck is alleged to have been traveling at the time caused a chain reaction of collisions which involved a total of seven vehicles.

Paramedics confirmed that three people were waiting at the bus stop at the time of the crash. Ambulances and firefighters were dispatched to the scene immediately. In all, five people – including the county truck driver – were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. One victim, 80-year-old Transito Lopez, reportedly lost a leg in the accident. His family has yet to visit with their relative who is said to be in critical condition and in a coma.

While the police investigation is still ongoing, several witnesses have come forward and shared what they saw. One person whose vehicle was involved and damaged in this accident said that the driver was not paying attention: “Very simple, that truck was on the phone, it was obvious he didn’t see the red light. How can you be going 60 miles 300 yards before a red light.”

Published on:

A life-altering collision for at least 2 young women occurred this morning at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Coral Way and SW 84th Avenue in Westchester, Florida, when their vehicle collided an 18-wheeler tractor trailer, driven by Larry Donell Robinson.

sClip.jpgLarry Robinson was lucky to walk away from this accident without a scratch, but sadly for the occupants of the white Honda Accord, they all were rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center.

We have since learned that the driver of the Honda, Alexandria Estrella, 23, and Ana Posada, 18, are in critical conditions and still fighting for their lives. The other three passengers identified by police as Jovanni Oliva, Anthony Emmanuel Del Rio, and Moises Arnold Alvarez were also injured, but not critically.

Published on:

Each year, an average of 61,000 carbon monoxide poisoning incidents occur in the United States, resulting in more than 30% of victims to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure. More importantly, an estimated 480 people die every year because of the silent killer that is carbon monoxide. (Statistics by the National Fire Protection Association can be found here)

kings_point440_128161a.jpgThis past weekend in New York, forty-two students residing on the Long Island, New York campus of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy were hospitalized and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after the gas leak was found after 9 p.m. Sunday night. When the gas leak was discovered, students and residents of the Academy’s Barry Hall were asked to evacuate the building – a total of 150 students were evacuated as a precaution without incident.

The law firm of Leesfield Scolaro and our carbon monoxide attorneys are all too familiar with carbon monoxide poisoning incidents and their catastrophic effects on poisoned victims. Recently, Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represented over a dozen families who had been exposed to carbon monoxide during their stay at a Key West Resort. That incident resulted in the wrongful death of a young man and injuries to several other guests. The investigation led by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal noted in its report that two of the boilers of the resort had not been inspected where in Florida, boilers of that size and type were required to be inspected every two years. The failure to have these boilers inspected prevented the resort from discovering clear evidence of soot accumulating on the outer part of the shroud that covers the burners, as well as soot found along the bottom wall, floor and behind the boilers.

Investigators also determined that there was a large 90-degree elbow aimed towards the east into the prevailing winds on the roof. This alteration caused a back draft down the exhausting vent preventing the proper exhaust of carbon monoxide. Therefore, as the back pressure increased in the exhaust pipe it reduced the availability of oxygen to the burners causing an incomplete combustion at the burner level. It turned what would normally be a blue flame into a yellow-orange flame causing the creation of carbon monoxide and soot/smoke. This in turn caused an excessive amount of carbon monoxide build up in the boiler room.

To further compound the problem, the carbon monoxide could not escape the boiler room due to the boarding up of the louvers on the boiler room doors, which were designed to permit proper air circulation. This prevented the complete combustion from occurring and prevented the escape of carbon monoxide. As the concentration of carbon monoxide grew in the boiler room it further prevented ambient air from entering the boiler room. During this time, the furnace continued to consume the remaining oxygen in the boiler room until it self-extinguished causing the boilers to automatically shut down.

After several months of litigation, these carbon monoxide victims entered into a confidential settlement with the resort for their injuries.

More recently, Thomas Scolaro represented students who were exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a university house. The investigation led by the local Fire Department confirmed that, upon entry, readings taken in the main section of the house showed over 200 ppm of Carbon Monoxide. With such elevated and dangerous readings, the investigation halted to let the ventilation process continue. When it was safe to resume, the investigators found that the exhaust pipe for the gas furnace that was heating the house was not exhausting the carbon monoxide, which led to a gas build up throughout the house.

Because our law firm continues to represent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, Leesfield Scolaro became the voice of Florida victims of CO exposure. Due to the relentless efforts of former Florida Justice Association (FJA) President Ira Leesfield, Senate Bill 1822 was adopted, and became effective July 1, 2008.
Continue reading

Published on:

Under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Florida Statute 316.193.

Living and working in Fort Lauderdale as a handyman, 22-year-old Dwight Grant’s life was changed forever when he became a DUI victim. Mr. Grant was sitting in the back seat of his friend’s car, stopped on the road, waiting for a raised drawbridge. A couple of blocks behind him, Matthew Lyons was driving his car uncontrollably and at a very high rate of speed. When Mr. Lyons made a left turn and faced the stopped traffic, it was too late for him to avoid the horrific rear-end car accident that ensued. The investigation revealed that Mr. Lyons was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, with a blood alcohol level of .21, almost triple the legal limit.

As a result of this rear-end car accident, Dwight Grant sustained skull fractures, frontal lobe brain damage and facial fractures. He had corrective surgery to repair the fractures and was discharged after two weeks in intensive care. Following his release from the hospital, Mr. Grant developed a seizure disorder that is not controlled by medication. He is unable to resume work due to his uncontrolled seizures.

DUI Victim Attorney, Thomas Scolaro, of Leesfield Scolaro filed a civil lawsuit against Matthew Lyons for his negligent driving. The defendant alleged that although he was intoxicated, Mr. Grant’s seizures could have been better controlled in the future had he been more compliant with taking his anti-seizure medications and had he been more compliant returning for follow-up medical appointments. What the defendant failed to realize was that Mr. Grant did not always take his medication because his frontal lobe brain damage caused him to be very forgetful. Experts at trial testified that the degree of brain damage and the location of the damage in the frontal lobe controlled his decision making processes and affected his short-term memory.

After a five-day trial, the jury panel of 3 men, and 3 women jury panel found that the defendant was negligent. The jury found that Mr. Grant was unable to return to work in any capacity and awarded Mr. Grant $2.7 million for past and future lost wages, $6.7 million for past and future medical care, and $6 million for past and future pain and suffering.

The case, entitled Dwight Grant v. Matthew Lyons, Lower Tribunal Case No, 07-015561 (03) was tried before Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell in Broward County, Florida.
Continue reading

Published on:

A property owner, such as a Hotel or Resort, has the duty to keep and maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition to provide for its guests’ safety and prevent any potential incidents. When dangerous conditions are known by the property owner or its employees, the owner must warn its guests of the hazardous condition so as to prevent any risk of injury. The property owner must also remedy, and repair the dangerous condition as soon as possible. When a property owner creates or fails to remedy a dangerous condition, and a guest is injured as a result of the owner’s failure to warn, it can be held responsible for the injuries sustained.

Aljuwon Pipkin, a 14-year-old boy, was a guest at a Hotel Resort in Orlando, Osceola County, with his family. One late afternoon, while playing with his brother in the jacuzzi/spa located on the Hotel’s property, one of the suction grates broke and Aljuwon’s body was pulled under water by the force of the suction drain. Aljuwon’s brother, who was also playing in the jacuzzi, tried to pull his brother, but Aljuwon’s body wouldn’t move. He began yelling for help. Aljuwon’s mother heard her son screaming, as did Aljuwon’s stepfather. They were only seconds from the spa and they both leaped into the water and tried to pull Aljuwon free, to no avail. The mother began screaming as she felt her son jerking in her arms, then her son’s body going limp.

For long minutes, guests and hotel employees attempted to pull Aljuwon free, but the force of the suction was too strong. Others were looking for the jacuzzi’s emergency shut-off switch, but none existed. A guest who witnessed the entire incident asked hotel employees to shut off the suction drain, but they did not know where the switch was. It turned out that the one person in charge of maintaining the spa was already gone for the day and nobody on the premises knew how to operate and turn off the jacuzzi.

homepipkin.jpg

At that point, the 14-year-old had been under water for more than ten minutes. That is when a fellow guest began ripping cables connected to the spa, which ultimately caused the suction to stop and allowed Aljuwon’s body to be freed. Paramedics worked on Aljuwon’s body immediately, administering emergency care and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the unresponsive minor child. After several minutes of incessant efforts, Aljuwon was miraculously brought back to life.

Personal Injury Lawyers at Leesfield Scolaro sued the Hotel for its negligence in failing to maintain and/or replace the defective grate of the jacuzzi spa which broke when Aljuwon was using the spa. Ira Leesfield alleged that the Resort was responsible for not having installed an emergency shut-off switch which would have allowed Aljuwon to be freed within seconds, not ten minutes too late. Personal Injury Lawyer Carol Finklehoffe alleged that the hotel was also responsible for negligent training of the hotel’s employees who simply did not know how to shut off the jacuzzi’s drainage system.

As a result of the Hotel’s negligence, Aljuwon sustained brain damage requiring life-long medical care. On August 25th, 2011, the Orlando Personal Injury Attorneys at Leesfield Scolaro, Ira Leesfield and Carol Finklehoffe, on behalf of Aljuwon Pipkin and his mother, who witnessed the near drowning incident, settled this brain damage claim for a confidential amount with the Hotel Resort Defendant. It is the largest result in a pool entrapment case in Osceola County.
Continue reading

Badges