Articles Tagged with “Ira Leesfield”

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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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Partner Justin Shapiro has recently represented a family whose minor son (JD) was ran over by a distracted motorist as he was about to board a school bus. After a arduous legal battle, the family ultimately prevailed and settled against the at-fault driver and the school district for the school bus driver’s negligence.

Like every weekday, JD reported to the designated gathering area on the corner of the intersection just before 6:00 a.m. At approximately 6:10 a.m., the school bus arrived on the opposite corner of the intersection and stopped in the middle of the road. It was pitch dark outside as there were no street lights in the area. Despite the long line of buses situated “bumper-to-bumper” ahead of the bus, the driver initiated the flashing lights and signaled the children to cross the street and board the bus. There was no designated crosswalk from the gathering area to the corner where the bus stopped. Relying on the driver’s direction, JD and the other children began to cross the street.

school-bus-TOP-300x258At that time, a motorist traveling southbound in the direction of the group of children could not see the mobile traffic devices on the school bus due to the heavy traffic and numerous school buses in the northbound lane with their headlights on. Tragically and inevitably, the vehicle crashed into the child at a high rate of speed. JD was left unconscious, laying motionless on the ground. He was airlifted to the hospital, diagnosed with severe traumatic brain injuries from which he and his family will never recover.

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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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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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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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Leesfield Scolaro’s continued growth welcomes our newest lawyer, Thomas D. Graham. Tom is admitted to the Florida and Pennsylvania Bars bringing new perspectives to our practice as he continues the Firm’s tradition of high level advocacy. As an Assistant State Attorney, Tom completed over 25 jury trials and 100 bench trials, and will continue his trial practice which now will be directed towards civil justice and protecting victims of negligence and wrongdoing.

Although Tom is experienced in admiralty, maritime and cruise ship litigation, he also is committed to the complete array of cases handled by our Firm. An added plus, is his admission to the Pennsylvania Bar where we actively represent and protect Pennsylvania travelers to the Sunshine State. Tom is active in numerous associations and leadership activities, now joining the American Association for Justice (“AAJ”) and its New Lawyers Division.

Our firm remains active in statewide litigation, resolving cases from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys. We are particularly proud of the recent influx of cases from Florida’s Gulf Coast and appreciate the opportunity to co-counsel serious matters with lawyers from that region.

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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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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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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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