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Auto Accidents

$50 Million for Devastating Car Wreck

August.16. 2010

Fred Wilson, family man, football coach, and former United States Marine, had his neck broken in an automobile collision. He worked the night shift at the railroad for a friend, and was headed home early that morning for a Fourth of July Barbecue. He was hit by a car being driven by a man who had been out all night. The Defendant’s attorney argued that Wilson was speeding and ran a red light. Wilson’s attorney, John Uustal, proved that Wilson had a green light, and asked the jury to recognize Wilson’s suffering in their verdict. The jury found the Defendant negligent. The verdict was for over fifty million dollars. It was one of the largest in the country, and the case was featured in national news.

Driver of an 18-Wheeler Awarded $14.6 Million

August.15. 2010

One May 31, 2007, a truck driver was severely injured when his 18-wheeler was overturned in an effort to avoid a collision with another vehicle. The accident was caused by a driver who ran a stop sign and cut off the 1998 freight truck that was transporting a load of sugar on State Road 80 in Florida. Sadly, the driver who ran the stop sign never stopped, so the accident was considered a hit-and-run.

Attorney Robert W. Kelley and Attorney Todd Falzone stated that the truck driver’s decision to swerve in order to avoid hitting the car was nothing short of a heroic effort. His sacrifice saved the other driver from death and left him paralyzed due the severity of injuries. Following the accident, the truck driver filed an insurance claim with his own insurance company, National Casualty Company. He was denied payment.

To deal with an excessive amount of medical bills, the truck driver had no choice but to seek legal action immediately. When the insurance company denied his claims, Attorneys Kelley and Falzone represented the client relentlessly and filed a lawsuit against the insurance company who had denied the truck driver coverage. Both lawyers state that the trial could have been avoided had the insurance company paid the truck driver for the benefits due.

For much of the trial, the truck driver was unable to attend since he was undergoing rehabilitation at the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation located in Wachula. On the day of his one-day trial testimony, the truck driver and his medical team were airlifted to the Broward County courthouse. He was joined by his wife and daughter.

Following the week-long trial and a two-day deliberation period, the driver of the 18-wheeler was awarded $14.6 million.

Jury Awards $7 Million in Accident

September.08. 2010

Jill Grant cannot recall the morning six year ago, when a semi-trailer truck crushed her car like a cheap toy, critically injuring her and forever changing her life.

“I can’t even remember what happened yesterday, or what I had to eat,” Grant, 40, said on Friday, the day after a Broward Circuit Court jury decided she should receive $7 million from truck driver Denver Wayne Burtz of Plant City and his employer, Publix Super Markets.

Grant was driving south on Florida’s Turnpike near the Delray Beach toll plaza about 5 a.m. when she was hit from behind by Burtz’s truck, which was loaded with frozen pies. The truck hit her car a second time, pinning it against a guardrail.

There were no witnesses to the accident, so Grant’s lawyers, Scott Schlesinger and Robert Kelley, hired a physics professor, Arthur Paskin, to reconstruct the accident on a Cornell University computer.

Details about the crash, such as the damage to the vehicles and the location of paint chips, were entered into the computer, and a computer-graphic simulation of the crash was shown on a video screen to jurors.

“We know of no other time when a computer was used to actually show a jury what went on,” Schlesinger said.

“There’s no question it was persuasive,” Kelley said.

Rex Conrad, the attorney for Burtz and Publix, said, “It’s no better than the opinions of the people who program it.”

Paskin said the Cornell computer has been used in three other trials since 1984, when it debuted in a Bronx, N.Y., trial in which a man was acquitted of four manslaughter counts involving a car crash.

Conrad said he will ask for a new trial.

Injured Woman Awarded $4.6 Due to the Negligence of Road Contractors

August.10. 2010

On November 13, 1988 a woman from Tamarac was involved in a semitrailer accident located on University Drive and Interstate 595. However, this woman was not the only person injured in this area. Over 100 other motorists were involved in car accidents in this same area due to confusing pavement marking left by road contractors. While these accidents were completely avoidable, contractors had failed to post adequate warning signs that would steer motorists in a safe manner.

The injured woman sued the two companies, Triple R. Paving and DeLeuw, for negligence throughout the highway construction. Both companies were hired by the Department of Transportation. She was awarded $4.6 million by a Broward County jury in a civil lawsuit.

$3.47 Million for Nissan Rollover

July.27. 2015

After four days of deliberation, a Florida jury awarded plaintiffs A.R. Alvarez and K.R. Alvarez $3.47 in an automobile rollover case represented by John Uustal of Kelley/Uustal.

The accident occurred when A.R. Alvarez was driving home. As she rounded a gradual corner, her 1993 Nissan veered off the road. When she tried to regain control of the vehicle, it flipped over. Because of the accident, A.R. suffered massive injuries to her arm, which was later amputated.

With the help of Attorney John Uustal, the plaintiff’s demonstrated that Nissan created an unsafe vehicle knowing it was possible to eliminate the unreasonable danger of a rollover accident.

$2 Million Verdict for Pedestrian Death

July.27. 2015

A Broward County jury awarded $2 million in a wrongful death verdict after a careless driver hit a pedestrian crossing the street.

The victim was a 53-year-old real estate agent from Fort Lauderdale with a passion for cooking and keeping youth safe through the YES program. According to Broward County records, the driver was cited for careless driver roughly one month before the accident.

Kelley/Uustal achieved a $2 million jury verdict in favor of the case.

South Florida 5th Grade Teacher Receives a $1.7 Million Settlement

August.14. 2010

On October 17, 1997, a 35-year-old fifth-grade teacher was on her way home from work when she drove off Florida’s Sawgrass Expressway, also known as the Florida State Road 869. The woman explains that she was able to make the appropriate corrective maneuver but that her vehicle, a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, continued to roll in the middle of the expressway lanes, landing on the driver’s side. Unfortunately, her arm was pinned between the vehicle and the road, which left the driver with a missing arm from the elbow area down.

Attorney Robert W. Kelley provided aggressive representation for the client and was able to prove that part of the accident was due to manufacturing problems by the Nissan Motor Company. Although the final verdict determined that the driver was accountable for 49% of the accident, Nissan was held responsible for 51% of the blame. With formidable evidence, Attorney Kelley was able to prove that the 1993 Pathfinder had the highest fatality rate in its class and was able to use this information to recover maximum compensation.

The Nissan Motor Company was apologetic for the woman’s injuries but was disappointed by the final verdict; the company believed that the driver was at fault for losing control of the vehicle. Although they argued that there was no apparent flaws with the vehicle, Kelley’s persistence and formidable evidence proved otherwise.

The woman was awarded $1.7 million as compensation for the accident.

Jury Orders Defendant to Pay $631,222.77

November.18. 2011

On his way to Home Depot, Guillaume Van Niekerk, a hardworking hotel maintenance man, was injured in a crash when we was rear ended by Allstate’s driver. He was treated and released from the scene by paramedics and went to the ER with his wife where he was treated and released with some back and neck pain. He returned to the ER the next day with back pain and rib pain. Over the next several days, he developed ankle pain and headaches, which have continued to this day. He was diagnosed with a sinus tarsi syndrome in the left ankle, has been advised that he needs surgery. He was also diagnosed with post traumatic headaches.

Allstate, the defendant driver’s liability carrier, originally only offered $11,000 of the $250,000 coverage prior to litigation. On the eve of trial they upped that to $34,520 when they realized their predicament. They are now required to pay this verdict plus Plaintiff’s attorneys fees and costs. Todd McPharlin, the Kelley/Uustal Trial Attorney who’s team brought this case to trial says that the final amount that Allstate will have to pay will exceed eight hundred thousand dollars.

“I guess that in this case Allstate gambled that if they kept saying ‘no’ that eventually Mr. Van Niekerk would just go away. But if you can get the case in front of a jury, which is what we do best, and they hear the truth, then that insurance company’s gamble is not a safe bet any more,” said McPharlin.

Original Offer: $11,000
PreTrial Offer: $34,520
Jury Verdict: $632,222.77 + fees +costs

Accident Victim Awarded $342,117.29 by His Own Insurance Company

February.28. 2011

Jon Schwartz and his family paid for uninsured motorist coverage (known as UM coverage) for over 20 years, without ever once making a claim. But since both of his parents were insurance brokers, they were aware that many drivers don’t carry any insurance, so they wanted to be safe, just in case. “That’s what insurance is for,” they thought.

Jon injured his back and neck in a car crash while on leave from his job as a wildlife preserve volunteer. The other driver was totally at fault, having run a red light, but had no insurance. “No problem”, thought the family, “that’s why we have uninsured motorist coverage, that’s why we’ve been paying the premium for 20 years, just in case.”

But his own insurance company, State Farm, refused to cover him under his UM policy for the injuries, including refusing to pay for his past and future medical bills. So the family was forced to take them to court and that’s where the Kelley/Uustal team came in.

At trial, attorney Todd McPharlin, supported by his paralegal team, showed the jury how the severity of the crash had totaled Jon’s car. The jury heard about his epidural injections which doctors prescribed for the pain he was in. And the jury heard from doctors who testified that Jon would need surgery to correct the damage caused by the crash. They also heard that, after this crash, Jon wasn’t able to meet the physical requirements involved in his role with the wildlife preserve, which included taking care of Florida’s endangered panthers.

The jury awarded Jon $270,035.77 to cover his past and future medical expenses and to compensate him for his pain. Before trial, Jon made very reasonable settlement offers which were rejected by his insurance. As a result, State Farm paid attorney’s fees and costs in addition to the verdict amount. With fees and costs added to the verdict, the total recovery was $342,117.29. The jury forced his own insurance company to pay.

“The insurance companies sometimes deny a claim just to make you fight, thinking they hold all the cards,” said attorney Todd McPharlin when interviewed for this web post. “But the jury shuffles those cards,” he went on to say, “if you can get a case to trial, which is what we are good at doing, then you have a fair fight.”

After the verdict the insurance company paid.

Jury Awards $80,578.99 in Accident

July.05. 2012

This action arose from a collision to the back of the plaintiff’s car by a vehicle driven by the defendant. The court directed a verdict against the defendant on liability and the case continued on the issues of damages and causation only. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury as a result of the collision.

The plaintiff was a female in her 40s at the time of the accident which occurred in 2005. She was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar sprain and strain. The plaintiff underwent physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, orthopedic treatment and epidural injections. She complained of ongoing neck and back pain.

The defendant argued that the impact to the back of the plaintiff’s vehicle was light and caused minimal property damage to the vehicles involved. Evidence showed that the plaintiff did not seek medical treatment for several days post-accident.

The defense contended that the plaintiff’s neck and back symptoms were unrelated to the subject accident. Evidence showed that the plaintiff was involved in a prior motor vehicle accident and had made previous complaints of neck and back pain before the date of the subject collision.

The jury found that the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident and awarded her $80,000 in damages.


Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon: Richard Simon from Plantation, FL.
Defendant’s orthopedic surgeon: Salvador Ramirez from Miami, FL.
Defendant’s radiologist: Steven Brown from Dania, FL

Dominguez vs. Vallarino. Case no. 08-80773; Judge Pedro Echarte, 12-15-10.


Attorneys for plaintiff: Todd R. McPharlin and Eric Rosen.

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