2013

$2.7 million jury verdict. We tried this case in Orlando, Florida with our co-counsel firm Domnick & Shevin, PL. The trial lasted two weeks; the jury, composed of six men, deliberated for more than 18 hours. Our client, a Disney bus driver, rear-ended a Mears motor coach that was stopped in a through lane of traffic near the Epcot Theme Park entrance for no apparent reason. (Link to media coverage of the crash.) The accident happened at 2:00 p.m. on a clear day. The Defendants, Mears and its driver, defended vigorously, not willing to accept that there could be shared fault for this rear-end crash. We presented scientific evidence to explain how a trailing vehicle could rear-end a vehicle without the driver of the trailing vehicle being at fault. The scientific concept is known as "Looming threshold." (This article was written by our expert.) The jury apportioned fault between our client and the Mears motor coach operator.

$250,000 Premises Liability mediated settlement.
This was a slip & fall accident which happened as our client was leaving work at the end of the day. We also handled her workers' compensation case and negotiated a sizable settlement. Importantly, we got the workers' compensation insurance company to assign our client its lien rights as part of the settlement. This enabled us to settle the liability case without having to repay the workers' compensation lien. The biggest hurdle we had to overcome in both cases was a history of prior back problems, including a lumbar disc surgery in 2005.

$30,000 Workers' Compensation settlement.
While our client had a very low average weekly wage (AWW -- 440.02(29) and 440.14), his orthopedist had noted that he might require surgery in the future. The employer/carrier settled to avoid that risk.

$25,000 Confidential settlement for accident caused by a broken chair.
The accident happened in one of Florida's large pharmacy chains. The chair in which our client attempted to sit collapsed and fell backwards at the photo processing counter. She fell hard to the ground, but did not sustain any broken bones or lose consciousness. Here's language from our demand letter: "This accident happened because of a bad chair. It is [pharmacy's] fault that the bad chair was accessible to [our client]. [Pharmacy] owed [our client] the duty of ordinary and reasonable care. See, Fontana v. Wilson World Maingate Condominium, 717 So.2d 199 (1998). It had two ways to meet its duty. Knowing that its chairs are subjected to heavy use, it could have selected  bullet-proof, industrial grade chairs. The second way [pharmacy] could have satisfied its duty was to have an effective inspection or maintenance procedure in place. That the chair collapsed demonstrates conclusively that [pharmacy] breached its duty to [our client]. There is no other explanation."

$892,000
Workers' Compensation mediated settlement. Our 56 year old client fell from a 10' ladder. (We also investigated for a products liability claim against the ladder manufacturer, but the ladder failed because it was old (15 years) and beaten up, rather than having a production or design defect.) Some of the settlement proceeds will be applied to a Medicare Set-Aside so that our client will also be able to receive Medicare benefits for his injuries. The settlement funds will provide our client and his family with solid financial security. 

$57,500 Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death mediated settlement. We co-counseled this case with a very fine Palm Beach County attorney. While performing a colonoscopy, an uninsured surgeon perforated his elderly patient's colon. The doctor did not know this at the time of the surgery. Perforation is a known risk of colonscopy surgery and may occur in the absence of negligence. It is nearly impossible to prove it occurred because of negligence ... and we didn't try. Instead, we brought suit against the surgeon and his professional association for failing to refer his patient to the hospital when she reported to him the next day of being nauseous. A perforated colon, if not repaired timely and properly, will become infected. Nausea can be an indication of nausea. The doctor's patient was nauseous due to an infected colon. Her condition worsened. By the next day her daughter got her to the hospital. Surgery was quickly performed to repair the perforation and address the surgery. She developed a hernia during the repair surgery. Sadly, she died in the hospital a few days later. The surgeon claimed that she did not report being nauseous and even if she had, the one day delay did not make a difference. We had some difficulty finding an expert who disagreed with defendant's delay defense, but eventually succeeded. The case settled at mediation. The family, consisting of an elderly spouse, who was the sole survivor under Florida's Wrongful Death Act, and their children were happy with the settlement. They were especially happy that the surgeon had to write a personal check to pay the settlement. They plan on using some of the settlement money to throw a party in Haiti to honor their wife and mother.

$25,000 Motorcycle accident policy limit settlement. A car cut in front of our client, a family friend, who was riding his motorcycle on a busy Miami Beach road at a low speed ... thankfully. He laid the bike down to avoid impacting the vehicle, sustaining minor road burns and a sprained neck. The policy limits were quickly tendered, and we managed to reduce an emergency room bill by 90%.

$150,000 Workers' compensation settlement. This case arose from a 2008 accident. By the time this injured worker came to our office, it had been more two years since the accident and more than one year since he had received a workers' compensation benefit. Our immediate concern was the workers' compensation statute of limitations, outlined at Florida Statute 440.19. We filed a Petition for Benefits anyway. When the Employer/Servicing Agent was unable to prove that it had satisfied its statutory notice requirements, it accepted the accident as being compensable. This was not the end of the fight. We alleged that our client had injured his shoulder and neck. The E/SA accepted responsibility for the shoulder injury, but not for the neck injury. It authorized an orthopedist who performed shoulder surgery. Our client was forced to use health insurance for neck surgery. (Performed before we got involved in the case.) We eventually spoke to neurosurgeon, who agreed that the cervical condition was related to the accident. We provided his written opinion to the E/SA. This helped us get $150,000. (Through our efforts, the E/SA paid out $60,000 in benefits on top of the lump sum settlement.)

$15,000 Workers' compensation settlement. While our client received decent medical care, the insurance company's hand-picked doctors ultimately rendered opinions favorable to the insurance company. One of the most immoral aspects of today's workers' compensation system has to do with the near complete control insurance companies have over all aspects of medical care. I can think of no other system where the patient has so little control over medical decisions.

$18,000 Car crash settlement.
Although a relatively minor crash, a number of favorable factors distinguished this case from the typical minor South Florida accident with similar facts: The at-fault vehicle was a limousine with coverage limits of $1,000,000 rather than a private passenger vehicle with limited coverage; the liability carrier, based in Ohio, had limited experience with South Florida claims. It was not a State Farm, Geico, Allstate, or Progressive up to its eyeballs in South Florida claims and hating every one of them; our client was an elderly gentleman. In our experience, insurance companies pay a premium to children and the elderly. Of additional importance was a friendly and professional insurance adjuster and a patient client. Initially, we were offered $5,000 to settle. We negotiated hard and finally got our bottom line after many months of conversation.

$19,250 Combined car crash settlement. Our client, another family friend, was involved in a late night crash between two vehicles. There was conflicting evidence regarding fault. . 

$18,000 Workers' Compensation settlement against Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Our client, a school bus driver, broke a bone in her foot while climbing into her bus. The bone was slow to heal but the employer refused to accommodate her work restrictions. The case was resolved shortly after mediation when our bottom line demand was accepted by the employer.

$400,000 Negligent Insurance Agency/Agent settlement. This was an interesting case which arose out of a work-related accident. Our client's employer, a small company, did not have workers' compensation insurance. It blamed this on receiving faulty risk information from its insurance agent. Since the employer did not have the financial resources to furnish needed workers' compensation benefits, we agreed to take an assignment from the employer of its right to sue agent/agency for the faulty advice. We used the assignment to sue the agent and agency for breach of fiduciary duty. The case  settled on the eve of trial. In a post-settlement mini-trial, we were able to reduce a Medicaid lien from $166,000 to $8,350.

$10,000 Motor vehicle accident settlement. The accident involved minor property damage. Our client sustained a cervical sprain and a bruised knee. Within days of receiving our settlement demand package, the bodily injury insurance carrier tendered its policy limits. Our client's medical bills were paid by PIP.

$60,000 Confidential workers' compensation settlement. This was for the same gentleman injured in the motor vehicle accident noted in the post immediately above. We alleged that his injuries, including a bad back and shoulder pain, were caused by 25 years of work-related repetitive micro-trauma.

$27,000 Trip & fall settlement. While attending a Jewish funeral, our elderly client tripped over a plywood plank covered by astroturf which was placed crudely on the ground near the gravesite. She sustained a hairline wrist fracture which healed without surgery. Medicare was reimbursed for the portion of her medical it paid.

$40,000 WC settlement for broken tooth. Client slipped in water at work. Employer paid for dental work, agreed to settlement believing it may have to pay for more in the future.

$300,000 Workers' compensation settlement. This was a pleasant case until mediation, when the employer/carrier produced video surveillance and accused our client of lying to his doctors about his medical history. This prevented us from settling at mediation. However, because of the good work of the mediator and the defense attorney, we were able to close out the case a week later for an amount fair to both sides.