What We Are Up To Now
The following are some of the cases we are working on at the moment. Click on the headline for a more detailed description
Jury Returns Verdict Establishing Insurance Coverage on 25 Year Old Lost Policies
In 1928 the grandparents of David W. Bianchi from our firm began a flower growing business on Long Island, NY. By the time they retired in 1988 they were the largest growers of cymbidium orchids in the United States.
After they retired and closed the business the property was sold to another flower grower. Thereafter it was sold several more times and is currently owned by a developer who wants to build houses on the site. The developer was thwarted in his efforts, however, when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) stepped in and claimed there is contamination in the soil and the property has to be “remediated” or cleaned up. The current owner and all prior owners in the chain of title received the same letter: agree to pay for the cost of cleanup or the state will pay for the cleanup and send you the bill. The cost can easily run into the millions of dollars.
In November, 2007 twenty years after his parents closed the business and sold the property I.W. Bianchi, Jr. (the father of our law partner) received a letter from the NYDEC telling him he was personally liable for the cost of cleanup “as the majority owner” of the corporation that used to own the property. But the NYDEC had the wrong person. Although David's father had been an employee of his parent's business for 35 years," the owners of the corporation who owned the property all those years ago were Mr. and Mrs. I.W. Bianchi, Sr., the parents of I.W. Bianchi, Jr. and the grandparents of our law partner. It seemed like a simple case of mistaken identity and resolving the matter was expected to be easy.
Getting the government to go away, however, is rarely easy. Despite being told that they had the wrong person the NYDEC refused to go away. They made it clear that I.W. Bianchi, Jr. was on the hook for a corporation he never owned and had no control over. To make matters worse he could not possibly afford to pay the cleanup cost.
It was at that point that David decided to contact Florists Mutual Insurance Co., the specialty insurer that had insured his grandparents’ business in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Florists Mutual is one of the largest insurers of flower growers, florist shops and nurseries in the country. They are authorized to do business in 48 states and are headquartered in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Florists Mutual checked its records and advised that it had in fact insured the Bianchi orchid business until 1986 just two years before it closed for good. It refused to cover the NYDEC claim, however, because Florists Mutual had destroyed all of the files many years ago and without the files and policies it claimed it was impossible to know what the coverages might have been.
On April 7, 2008 David filed suit in the State of New York against Florists Mutual Insurance Company. It was filed on behalf of his father in order to try and establish the insurance coverage that David’s grandparents had purchased when they owned and operated the business. It was a most unusual situation: a lawyer representing his father in a lawsuit involving his grandparents who died many years ago. To some, it appeared to be a long shot at best and Florists Mutual refused to even discuss a settlement.
In March, 2010 after a jury trial in the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, the 8 person jury returned a unanimous verdict finding that I.W. Bianchi, Jr. was indeed a covered insured on the Florists Mutual policies issued in the 1980’s, that the policies provided $1,000,000 of coverage for each of the three years in question and there was no “pollution exclusion” that would negate coverage. The case is now on appeal.
This is one of only a handful of cases nationwide that has successfully established the existence of insurance coverage on long lost policies.
Bicyclist Dies Due To Negligence Of Condominium Association
We are representing the wife and surviving children of a lawyer who was visiting Florida and died in a tragic accident.
The decedent was an avid bicyclist, in tremendous physical condition and was committed to exercising every day. While in Florida on a brief vacation he stuck to his usual regimen: he rented a bicycle and helmet and took off on the streets of Miami Beach.
After a one hour ride he came back onto the property of the condominium his family was staying in and decided to ride to the pool area before going upstairs. To get to the pool he had to ride on 1 of 4 driveways that pass under the high rise building.
Unfortunately he selected the driveway that was in the most direct line from the guard gate. As he was about to ride under the building he struck a chain that had been strung across that area and was thrown from his bike. He received a host of injuries in the accident and died 19 days later.
The family hired us to pursue the matter and we have filed suit against the entities that are responsible for placement of the chain. There was no reason for the chain to be there, there were no warning signs on it and it was hard to see if one did not know it was there.
One of Mexico's Largest Companies Hires STFB PA to Collect Unpaid Debt
One of Mexico’s largest companies has been doing business with a Florida corporation for decades. Despite the longstanding and good relationship, however, the Florida company has not paid millions of dollars owed to our client and we have been retained to collect the money. Although our client is a sophisticated company with hundreds of in-house lawyers and numerous law firm relationships in the United States, we were hired because we had successfully represented them in the past and they are moving away from the usual hourly billing firms in favor of law firms that will represent them on a contingent fee basis. We are doing more and more commercial litigation on a contingent fee basis and expect to continue to do so in the future.
Car Runs Over Woman Walking on Sidewalk
We are currently representing the family of a 52 year-old woman who was walking on a sidewalk in Sarasota, Florida when she was struck by a car that drifted off the road. Our client lives in Connecticut, is severely brain damaged and currently suffers from quadriplegia. The insurance company for the driver offered the limits of its insurance coverage but not soon enough. We are pursuing the case against the insurance company for the full value of the injuries sustained by our client. We intend to recover everything our client deserves from the insurance company under a provision in Florida law that allows injured people to recover more than the limits of insurance coverage when an insurance company fails to timely tender the policy limits.
Operating Room Error Renders Young Boy Quadriplegic
In a particularly tragic case, we represent a 12 year-old boy and his family in a case against a major medical school in the western part of the United States. The child is a ventilator-dependent C-3 quadriplegic who was injured when surgeons operated on his back to correct a scoliosis (curvature of the spine) deformity. The doctors and hospital personnel did not appropriately monitor the young boy as a result of which his spinal cord injury went undiagnosed and untreated until it was too late.
Because the medical school involved is owned by the state and the state has limits of liability of $1,100,000 we will be asking the trial judge to declare the damages cap unconstitutional under both the state and federal constitutions. This case is set for trial in June, 2010.
Religious Group Volunteers Sexually Molest Autistic Child
A young autistic child was sexually molested by volunteers from a religious organization that were supposed to be mentoring and developing friendships for him. The teenagers who committed the molestation were not properly screened or trained but the religious organizations involved told the parents and others that the teenagers had “special training” in working with autistic children. Relying upon those statements, the parents enrolled their child in the program, only to discover months later that the teenagers had molested their son. The lawsuit is currently pending against the local and national religious organizations responsible for creating and sponsoring the program.
Surgeon Cut Artery By Mistake Causing Severe Brain Damage
We represent a gentleman who was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. The kidney was successfully removed, which was the good news for the patient, but the bad news was that during the surgery, the surgeon mistakenly cut an artery and blood began leaking from the artery into the abdominal cavity. As a result, the patient’s blood pressure dropped significantly, he suffered a heart attack and lapsed into a coma for six weeks. When the patient woke he had suffered significant brain damage. The case is currently pending in the St. Petersburg, Florida area.
NFL Player Victim of Medical Malpractice
We are currently representing a well known NFL player and are investigating the care and treatment he received at the hands of his team doctor and surgeon. It appears from preliminary investigation that the player suffered a career ending injury not as a result of contact on the football field but, instead, at the hands of his physicians.