Articles Tagged with “Justin Shapiro”

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Miami, June 2022 – Partner Adam Rose secured a record-setting verdict on behalf of his clients, a family whose daughter was killed and son incapacitated by a drunk driver who was overserved at a popular Miami bar. While the reading of the jury’s verdict gave the family the satisfaction of knowing that some justice was served, it could do nothing to change the cruel reality of two broken-hearted parents who have lost everything.

While on their way to drop their daughter off at the airport for a flight to medical school orientation, the family car was hit head-on by a drunk driver speeding in the wrong direction on I-95. Their daughter, 23, was killed in the crash, and their son, 21, suffered catastrophic brain and orthopedic injuries, leaving him in a wheelchair, unable to speak, and requiring round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. The drunk driver had spent the night and early morning bar hopping and getting obliterated before making the terrible and fateful decision to get behind the wheel.

At trial, the Miami jury was visibly moved by Dad when he took the stand and tried to explain in his own words the unimaginable agony, grief, and struggle to carry on that he and his entire family wrestle with every day. Dad, who moved to America with his daughter and son when they were 6 and 4, shared with the jury that everything he and his wife did in life from the moment on was to make sure their children had every opportunity possible.

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Thomas-Scolaro-Justin-Shapiro-Leesfield-Scolaro-03-1“There has never been a case more fit for a resounding punitive damages award. Nothing will prevent the jury from considering every sickening detail of Corizon’s neglect and every profit-driven decision that resulted in Evan Kennard’s agonizing death now that we have secured punitive damages on behalf of Evan’s wife and 9-year-old daughter.”

-Partners Thomas Scolaro and Justin Shapiro

Evan Kennard (age 29) was admitted to Polk County Jail with a life-threatening heart infection and symptoms so alarming that any competent healthcare professional would have immediately rushed him to an emergency room. Instead, the jail’s private healthcare contractor, Corizon, ignored Evan’s worsening symptoms and deprived him of life-saving treatment for seven days as he deteriorated into a corpse. Corizon neglected Evan at every turn and only sent him to the emergency room after he became unresponsive, brain-dead, severely septic, 40 pounds lighter, with pressure ulcers, soaked in his own urine, with no chance of survival. Corizon’s own Medical Director, Margie Gomez, MD, admitted in deposition that her medical staff committed “egregious violations of protocols” in Evan’s care and treatment throughout his limited time in the jail.  In fact, every single Corizon doctor and nurse deposed in this matter admitted to numerous protocol violations, and they blamed each other for Corizon’s grossly indifferent lack of humanity to this dying husband and father.

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Over the last 45 years, especially in the last 1000 days, Leesfield Scolaro’s negligent security practice has seen first hand the dire consequences of the escalation of violent crime and the increasing number of innocent victims needlessly killed, battered, or raped.

The last two years have brought on much anxiety to all of us. The ripple effect of world economies shutting down has caused local economies and its people to suffer the most. The atmosphere of uncertainty has been a significant contributing factor to the resurgence of crime in our communities, especially the most violent crimes.Petition-Family-Safety-Issue_Page_5_resize-300x261

According to Statista, violent crimes are the worst they have been in the last 10 years. The number of aggravated assaults is the highest we have seen in the last 23 years, and the number of murders & non-negligent manslaughters has been this high since 1995.

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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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Everyday 1,000 people go to emergency rooms across the country to treat for dog bite injuries, and approximately 15,000 people need to be hospitalized with life-threatening injuries every year. Florida has a 40% dog ownership rate, and many owners have more than one dog. Consequently, it is not uncommon for guests, bystanders, neighbors and relatives to be bitten while visiting the home of a dog owner. When injured, where can the victim turn to? What about insurance exclusions?

Below are five different scenarios – five cases handled by Leesfield Scolaro – which resulted in the victims receiving compensation despite low odds of recovery.

Florida Law

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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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Once again, the team at Leesfield Scolaro has achieved important success for passengers who become ill or otherwise require evacuation from cruise ships for medical needs.

In the matter of the Estate of Jeffrey Eisenman v. Carnival Cruise Lines, former Chief Judge James Lawrence King has denied the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and further denied defendant’s  Motion for Summary Judgment against plaintiffs’ claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Jeffrey Eisenman was seriously ill while ship was docked at port.   The family purchased evacuation insurance and pleaded with the Captain and medical crew to  transport Mr. Eisenman to a location with adequate medical facilities.  The cruise line refused to evacuate and set sail for Puerto Rico, 21 hours away.   Mr. Eisenman died 14 hours later during the voyage.   His family was grief stricken.  To make matters worse, the cruise line refused to have Mr. Eiseman’s body removed from the ship, forcing family members to stay onboard with their deceased father for the entire cruise.  The Eiseman case joins five other seven figure recent results obtained by the firm for failures to provide adequate medical care or otherwise make proper arrangements to obtain appropriate medical attention.   These failures resulted in passenger deaths, and life altering conditions, which were avoidable and unnecessary.

Additional cases include:

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When a Cape Coral man was left severely injured in an explosion on his outdoor patio because someone had accidentally left a gas grill turned on, his attorneys felt all signs pointed to a cleaning company that had stopped by the day before.

Plaintiffs attorneys Tom Scolaro and Justin Shapiro had a problem, though. No direct evidence actually proved that a cleaning service staff member had been negligent — meaning, technically, it could have been anyone. The premises liability lawsuit that ensued ultimately hinged on a single deposition, as Scolaro and Shapiro found one witness’s lie boxed the defendant into settling the claims for its $2 million insurance policy limit.

Scolaro-and-ShapiroShapiro and Scolaro, partners at Leesfield Scolaro in Miami, represented plaintiff James Dastra. He hired Sparkle and Shine Cleaning Service of SWFL LLC to professionally clean his house about twice a month, including his propane grill on the patio. Dastra’s complaint claimed their last visit put him in serious danger, alleging one cleaner caused highly-flammable propane to leak and build up by inadvertently leaving a burner knob switched on after cleaning it.

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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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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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