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LeesfieldScolaro_logoLast month, we provided some tips on avoiding arbitration.

Thankfully, due to recent developments, you might not need that advice – at least when it comes to consumer financial products.

A few weeks ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank legislation in the wake the 2008 financial crisis,  officially recommended a ban on mandatory arbitration and class waiver clauses in consumer financial products contracts. (See Summary of Proposal at the end of this blog entry.)

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insurance-policy.jpgIf you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident or any other type of accident and sustained serious injuries you will want to know what compensation you can recover. Most attorneys will tell you that it depends on the liability, causation, degree of damages and the amount of available insurance. All of this is true, except that the amount of available insurance should not always be seen as the maximum amount you can recover.

Most lawyers will never look beyond the insurance policy and accept defeat that the insurance limits are the limits of available recovery. That is not always true. Over the past 15 years our office has recovered more than $26,000,000 more than the available insurance directly from the insurance companies when they engaged in bad faith handling of the underlying claims.

insurance policy limits.jpgThis amount does not include the millions more we have recovered from defendants personally above the insurance policy limits when there were no allegations of bad faith claims handling from the insurance carrier. When a defendant has traceable and collectible assets, your attorney should pursue those in order to maximize your recovery. We have done this by securing personal payments above policy limits and having personal property deeded to our clients including non-homestead properties. We recently were able to settle a claim for the policy limits of insurance, for additional cash money from the insured, and for multiple properties. In an inadequate security case, our firm secured a settlement for the policy limits and for an entire apartment building.

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ebook-graphic-2.pngWith the development over the past few years of online crowd funding, websites like GoFundMe have gained in popularity at an exponential rate. Since its inception, GoFundMe claims to have raised over $1.2 billion through its website. Quite remarkable.

As a personal injury firm established in South Florida for over 38 years, Leesfield Scolaro has seen first hand how a catastrophic event can transform an otherwise financially sound family into needing quick cash to pay next month’s mortgage or pay last month’s car payment that is over due.

7643873724_59cc54c54c_o.pngIn Florida, the Florida bar prohibits attorneys to loan money or advance cash to their clients. The only option to clients in the most dire situations was to contact a financial firm specialized in short-term loans based on lawsuits, more commonly called lawsuit loans. These loans are essentially an exchange of money for a promise of repayment + interest. While the idea of helping out people in temporary need until their case settles is a very noble one, abuse quickly became the norm. Today, these lawsuit loans are mainly operated by small entities who charge an exorbitant interest rate.

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We hope you noticed that Leesfield Scolaro, P.A. is now Leesfield Scolaro, P.A., recognizing Tom Scolaro’s 15-year career at our firm which began as a law clerk and research assistant. Tom has excelled in every way recognized by the trial bar and fully earned his placement as a named partner.

During his career, Tom has tried numerous multi-million dollar verdicts, setting records throughout the state through his proactive and highly assertive litigation and trial skills. According to Founding Partner, Ira Leesfield, “Tom is a trial lawyer who consistently says ‘give me the ball.” He works tirelessly and never complains. His productivity demonstrates an understanding that the firm’s clients need to get their cases resolved: timely, but resolved fully.

The announcement of Leesfield Scolaro has been well received with responses coming from Europe, Canada and throughout the United States, and, of course, from all points of Florida.

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Tom Scolaro’s entire legal career from law clerk to named partner has spanned 16 years with the firm. Starting as a research clerk while in law school, Tom, at age 41, has now rocketed to one of the leading trial lawyers statewide in Florida. He has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout he state and has brought about significant safety changes in the areas of carbon monoxide injury prevention. In 2004, Ira Leesfield and Tom Scolaro tried the matter of Kemp v. American Medical Response Management, Inc. in Key West with a $2.1 million dollar verdict. “From that point forward, Tom has pulled together a string of accomplishments unparalleled by any lawyer of his generation,” says Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield.

002-LS-Logo w-o rules.jpgIn other news, Ira Leesfield has again been selected for the 2015 Best Lawyers as stated in the Wall Street Journal and Miami Herald. This is Leesfield’s fifth consecutive year of selection. Within the last decade Ira Leesfield’s lifetime commitment to the profession and his clients has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the Anti-Defamation League’s “Jurisprudence Award,” “Melvin Belli Award,” the American Jewish Committee “Judge Learned Hand Award,” and the Florida Justice Association’s “Al J. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award” and the “Crystal Eagle Award.” He was the first Florida recipient of the American Ort “Jurisprudence Award.” In 2013, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers (Miami-Dade Chapter) presented Ira Leesfield with the 2013 Philanthropist Award, recognizing his long-standing commitment to support rising female law students through scholarship grants. He has twice been awarded the prestigious Wiedman Wisocki medal for outstanding advocacy. He was nominated as “Lawyer of the Year” by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and selected as one of America’s Top Ten Trial Lawyers. He is also rated by AVVO, SuperLawyers, Martindale-Hubbell,, U.S. News & World Report “Best Lawyers”, among others.

In October, the firm celebrated its 38th year of service to the State of Florida with the addition of Daniel Diaz-Balart, son of former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart. He comes with four years of intensive trial experience at the State Attorney’s Office. Danny is now in court on a regular basis, and his efforts join the very significant accomplishments of Justin B. Shapiro and Carol L. Finklehoffe.

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Appointed by President Clinton to investigate and track down looted Holocaust art and cultural treasures stolen during World War II across Europe, Ira Leesfield was recently recognized by the Miami Herald for the role he played in the U.S. Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets from 1998 to 2000.

The release of George Clooney’s latest movie, The Monuments Men, has led many men and women to being honored at various Washington institutions that played major roles in the protection, investigation, and in several cases, rescue of European treasures during and after World War Two.

The Commission made several significant findings, some of which are below:

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