The following is a partial list of the verdicts and settlements in some of the cases that we have handled:Inadequate Security
1. Hotel Room Break in
Three women traveling to visit central Florida attractions were strong-arm robbery and battery victims when two men forced open their hotel room door as it was closing. The men armed with guns terrorized their victims both physically and sexually. Though there were no serious physical injuries and the sexual intimidation was not reported, all three suffered psychological consequences from the crime. Discovery revealed cut backs in security staffing before the incident. The one guard on duty while making rounds noticed the assailants before the assault but did not confront or question them loitering at 1 a.m. The guard was required to pick up room service breakfast orders left on doorknobs which distracted him from security patrol though he admitted he saw the men a second time when they left the parking lot in a rush. A confidential settlement agreement prevents us from disclosing the amount or identity of the hotel.
2. Public Event Security Negligence
Our husband and wife clients were guests at the Wild Hog Jamboree and annual barbeque festival held near the 40 mile bend on the Tamiami Trail by the Everglades Conservation and Sportsman's Club. After accepting a ride on an ATV not designed for passengers the driver who had been drinking lost control of the vehicle and slid in mud into the side of a parked truck causing severe leg fractures requiring surgeries. As the third law firm to represent the plaintiffs we re-focused the case as an inadequate security premises liability claim. Extensive discovery revealed that the drinking driver's husband was the untrained chief of security for the event; the ATV was specially designated for security use at the event; and club rules for operation of ATV's during the barbeque were probably violated. As the trial date neared our clients accepted a settlement offer of $800,000.
3. Sexual Assault / Rape
Our developmentally disabled 29 year-old client with a mental age of a 4 year old was sexually assaulted and/or raped in the bathroom by another client, a legally incompetent but much higher level functioning man. The attack happened at a private adult training center supported by public funding. Initially the program supervisors asserted the sexual contact was consensual but admitted the program director momentarily lost track of both until she discovered them in a single user bathroom. The case presented challenges of proof since our client was largely non-verbal and could not comprehend the concept of sexual contact. Our damages case was formulated based on observed behavioral changes. We retained leading experts to evaluate our client. The case was settled for a confidential sum at mediation. The proceeds will be placed in a structured settlement used to fund a special needs trust.
4. Medical Malpractice
Limited in part by statutory caps, a confidential settlement has just been reached against a hospital for death of an unmarried mother of two. During surgery lap sponges were not removed and remained in the abdomen resulting in undetected infection. Operating room records showed the sponge count to be correct, misleading subsequent treating physicians trying to diagnose the patient's enigmatic deterioration after the routine but emergency procedure. Autopsy revealed the sponges wrapped in intestine. Careful thorough analysis before and during pre-suit discovery led to early mediation settlement after the lawsuit was filed.
5. Podiatric Malpractice
After arthroscopic ankle surgery our 55 year-old soccer playing client could not lift his operated foot. Physical therapy was a failure. Another podiatrist discovered the two major tendons bordering the arthroscopic incision were severed. Subsequent surgery repaired the damaged tendons. Though the original surgeon never admitted that his procedure severed the tendons the case was settled at mediation subject to a confidentiality agreement.
The Public Needs Protection from Confidentiality Agreements That Nowadays are Almost Always Insisted Upon as a Condition of Settlement Without any Legitamate Interest to be Protected. Secrecy is the Enemy of Truth. Litigation in the Sunshine Benefits the Public Interest.
6. Escalator Hand Rail Return
Our four year-old client lost her sneaker while riding down the escalator. Her mother was holding one hand and the other was on the handrail in a department store. At the bottom of the landing the toddler reached down to pickup her shoe and her other hand followed the handrail into the gap where the rail entered the return pinching her 4th and 5th fingers. Pediatric surgeons performed contracture release surgery. A confidential structured settlement including the Florida pre-paid college plan was reached at mediation.
A Hatian immigrant flea market vendor on her way to the Thunderbird drive in outdoor sale in Broward. Her slow traveling derelict vehicle was rear ended by utility company truck. She was unbelted and fell from her panel truck onto the interstate and was run over by her own vehicle before it left the roadway ending up in a roadside cemetery. Despite substantial comparative negligence we achieved a confidential settlement of $1.6 million for orthopedic injuries. Numerous liability and damages experts were used to focus the injuries and convince the defendant settlement was in its best interests.Drunk Driver Hits Jogger
A midnight jogger was struck at the shoulder of the road by an intoxicated driver causing mild brain injury. Accident reconstruction, human factors, toxicology, vocational, rehabilitation/life care planner, and economist experts were all brought together to form the trial case. Ed Schwartz's research and memoranda of law convinced the judge that the statutory $100,000 cap on the liability of the leased vehicle did not apply because of variances in the lease and statutory requirements and thus liability of the leasing company not limited to the $100,000 primary liability insurance. The liability carrier, State Farm, attempted to pay plaintiffs medical bills as part of defendant's probation sentence we helped negotiate in the criminal case and afterward we succeeded in establishing that those payments were made as a volunteer and State Farm remained liable for its policy limits which were paid. We also insisted on a substantial out of pocket contribution from the intoxicated driver before settling for a total of $2.1 million dollars.Lukacs v. Philip Morris Et Al
$37.5 million in compensatory damages, the largest such award ever against the tobacco industry was awarded to John and Yolanda Lukacs by a Miami-Dade jury after a two-week trial before Judge Amy Donner. Phil Gerson tried the case with co-counsel Steve Hunter and Miles McGrane. The trial was limited to compensatory damages since the Engle class action had already determined punitive damages on behalf of the entire class. The issues in the Lukacs trial were further limited to causation, reliance upon industry fraud and misrepresentation and alleged comparative negligence of the client. In opening statement Phil Gerson chronicled the life of John Lukacs hallmarking 1925 to 2002 with anchored references to who was the sitting president of the United States during different periods of the plaintiffs life. Using a metaphorical time machine the jury was taken over the childhood, adolescence, military career, education, childrearing, professional career, and prolonged illness. Phil Gerson effectively cross-examined the tobacco industry historian who ultimately admitted his opinions were not "fair." Use of Life Magazine advertisements by the industry were presented to show reliance by the plaintiff. Together with Steve Hunter Phil Gerson discredited the tobacco company doctor experts who tried to attribute both tongue and bladder cancer to other causes. Phil handled all the damage witnesses and argued damages to the jury. The request for $25 million for the plaintiff and $12.5 million for his wife was exactly what the jury came back with. "We did our own focus groups and mock trials in our office several months before trial. This research helped us prepare our damage case and damage prayer to the jury." Said Phil Gerson. The jury verdict was the largest amount ever awarded to a single individual and wife in a compensatory damage case in Miami-Dade County. It was also the largest verdict ever against the tobacco industry anywhere for compensatory damages. We are grateful to our trial judge for having the wisdom and compassion to give us an early trial based on our client's declining health despite vigorous tobacco industry opposition including interlocutory appeal of the order denying defense motions for continuance and further delay. As we feared, our client John Lukacs, a distinguished and admired lawyer himself, succumbed to the to the deadly grip of cancer caused by cigarette smoke in October of this year. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the entire Lukacs family for their great loss. The death of John Lukacs was a loss to our profession and to our entire community.Dudley v. Heartland Nursing Center of Kendall
$911,000 jury verdict for an 80 years young diabetic woman suffering from a foot ulcer who was sent to a nursing home to continue treatment and recover after discharge from the hospital. The nursing home violated its own policies and procedures as well as the standard of care by failing to document and record wound healing/deterioration and in failing to follow through is obtaining specialist consuls that were ordered by the attending physician. By the time our charming and delightful client was finally sent to another hospital for a specialist consult her wound had grown gangrenous and required immediate amputation of the toes. At trial the defense criticized her endlessly for failure to restrict her diet and for failure to take insulin for long periods. Working as a trial team with three lawyers from Fuller & Suarez P.A. we argued that it was the defendant's negligent discharge of the duties it was paid to provide not precedentDiabetic in Fender Bender
Our 30-year-old post kidney/pancreas transplant only noticed knee pain after a minor accident. While in the hospital several months later a previously undiagnosed heel ulcer was noticed by hospital personnel. Careful review of extensive medical records and interviews with her physicians led to a $500,000 settlement. Structuring benefits to protect a minor child and a special needs trust to protect public assistance benefit eligibility were solutions to practical problems which otherwise would have made settlement impossible.
The numbers above are the gross recoveries, before deduction for attorneys fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial of a result.