Articles Tagged with “Justin Shapiro”

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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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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.

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They say “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As we have seen in many of our premises liability cases, pictures can be worth far more. When our clients are severely injured as a result of dangerous or defective premises, their health is understandably their primary focus. Pain and shock take over. An ambulance is often called to rush the victims away from the scene for medical evaluation. slipping-154577_960_720.png The last thing on their mind is preserving evidence by taking photographs of the dangerous condition. Who can blame them?

Our firm recently handled a case that demonstrated just how important it is to photograph the scene after an injury. Our client was leaving a fast food restaurant when she slipped while walking down an outdoor staircase. She fell down several stairs to the ground and suffered severe injuries, requiring multiple surgeries. When her husband met her in the emergency room shortly after the incident, she explained that her foot slipped off a stair that felt “slimy” and “oily.” Her husband drove to the scene of the incident shortly thereafter and noticed that the stairs were covered in thick layers of mold and mildew, which are known to be extremely slippery on walking surfaces. He also noticed the restaurant employees preparing to scrub the staircase with soap and industrial brushes in response to his wife’s fall. He immediately took out his cell phone and snapped several photographs of the filthy staircase before it was scrubbed.

Months later, the general manager of the restaurant was shown these photographs at her deposition. She had no choice but to admit that the staircase was unacceptable and unsafe for guests. This allowed our firm to secure a settlement that covered 100% of her medical expenses and lost wages, and a substantial additional sum for her pain and suffering. Had her husband not taken those photographs, it would have been far more difficult to prove the extent of this hazard, or that the hazard existed at all.

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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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Miami-based trial law firm Leesfield Scolaro announces that it has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to third-year University of Miami law student Kayla Pragid. The annual scholarship is granted in association with the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) and is presented each year to a law student that demonstrates the highest standards of excellence in both academics and contributions to the community.

Kayla is currently ranked in the top 2.5% of her class and has been recognized on the Dean’s List for all semesters enrolled. She is a member of the University of Miami Law Review and serves on its Moot Court Board. She has received numerous academic awards and is the Co-Founder and President of the Democratic Law Students Association and a past member of the Executive Board of the Miami Law Women Association.

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Justin Shapiro, Carol Finklehoffe, Ira Leesfield, Kayla Pragid, and Patricia Kennedy (Left to Right)

Kayla has demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism, dedicating her time as a Writing Dean’s Fellow at the University of Miami, where she assists students with their writing skills. Additionally, she volunteers regularly at the Health and Elder Law Clinic, which provides free legal aid to indigent clients in the Miami area. There, her efforts are largely focused on assisting with guardianship issues and other legal matters on behalf of Miami’s Haitian community.

Kayla received a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Having coped with both of her parents battling cancer Kayla is also passionately involved with the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

“Kayla was selected for this scholarship based on her exemplary academic performance and a demonstrated interest in helping improve the lives of those around her,” said Patricia Kennedy, a shareholder with Leesfield Scolaro who oversaw the scholarship selection process. Read more about Kayla Pragis here.

FAWL is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession. Its membership is comprised of lawyers, judges, and professionals within the business community. This year marks Leesfield & Partner’s 16th consecutive year of participation.
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