Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers

talk to an attorney 888.988.1774

News Coverage starstarstarstarstar

News Coverage

  • Firm Files Suit Against Jail Medical Provider for Wrongful Death

    Leighton law filed suit against Armor Correctional Health Service for the death of Charles Jones.  Mr. Jones was in jail for a clerical probation violation when he fell ill.  Armor Correctional Health had a contract with the Brevard County Jail, where Jones was detained.  He began having severe stomach and intestinal pain, discomfort and all the signs of an intestinal blockage.  These included fatigue, sharp pains, constipation and anemia.  After he began experiencing these symptoms, Armor staff failed to get him help even when noting that his “breath  had a fecal odor to it.”  Days later, when he was finally taken to a hospital, Mr. Jones was in septic shock.  It was too late.  He died.

    According to Leighton Law’s Max Panoff, “Just because you’re in jail, doesn’t mean you get to be treated less than an animal.”

    This follows many other cases against Armor for negligent medical care to inmates at the facilities where they have contracts.  The case has garnered media attention as an example of how jail inmates are treated with respect to their basic medical care, especially when provided by private contractors.

  • John Leighton profiled on fight against teacher sex assault on TV news

    Following the $49.3 million verdict obtained by John Leighton and Max Panoff for a student raped by a Miami Dade County Public School teacher, news coverage focused on the preventability of these tragedies. News coverage included interviews with Mr. Leighton about how the Miami Dade School Board could allow this problem to continue.

    In the case which resulted in a $49.3 million verdict November 14, 2017, the teacher who raped Leighton’s client had previously been identified as making improper contact with a young female student by the same school district where he committed this rape.  Another teacher in Miami Dade Schools is also now being prosecuted for the same kind of behavior.  ABC affiliate Local 10 WPLG’s veteran investigative reporter, Glenna Milberg, has been investigating why and how these sexual abuses continue in this school system.

    Leighton Law’s client, C.R.R., was a 10th grade student when her geometry teacher, Bresnniel Jansen, began an inappropriate relationship with her.  He started by texting her, having her stay after class, and texting her nude photos of himself.  It escalated to him closing and locking the classroom door and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and ultimately taking her virginity on his classroom desk during school hours.  Jansen was discovered and arrested, and he pleaded guilty to several felony counts.  He was placed on 10 years of reporting probating with conditions and designated a sex offender for life.  He violated his probation and was incarcerated for several months but has since been released.

    Click here to see video

  • Leighton Goes To Court For Nursing Home Deaths in Hollywood Hills

    Following the deaths of a dozen elderly nursing home residents in Hollywood Hills, Florida, John Leighton and Max Panoff filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of firm clients. This took place in the midst of a local and statewide criminal investigation into these tragic deaths. Leighton has sought to protect the evidence of what took place at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.  National focus has been placed on the  nursing home following a string of deaths that occurred in the days following Hurricane Irma.  The facility failed to provide air conditioning in the building, and with rising temperatures and ill patients, nearly a dozen became so overheated, dehydrated and unstable that they died.

    Despite being across the street from one of the largest hospitals in Florida, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills never sought emergency assistance or transferred patients. The horrors of this event have been documented by the national and local media.  Leighton Law has been on the forefront of seeking protections for these residents and the families of those who have lost loved ones. We will continue to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society.

    After the initial 8 deaths on September 13, 2017, several more residents have died, bringing the the total body count to 14.  The state has shuttered the nursing home and Medicare and Medicaid payments have been suspended.  The Governor has issued an order that all nursing homes must have emergency generators in place by December 1, 2017, which the nursing home industry is fighting.

  • Leighton Law received the Prestigious ranking by U.S News & World Report and Best Lawyers

    Leighton Law has received the prestigious ranking by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers as a Tier 1 “Best Law Firm” for personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability for 2017.

    The U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a ranking in a particular practice area and metro region, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro area.

    Leighton Law, P.A. is a law firm dedicated to representing plaintiffs in serious and meritorious personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability and catastrophic injury cases. The firm has offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. The firm has been recognized as a “Top Law Firm” by the South Florida Legal Guide since 2009, and founding partner is selected as a Top 100 lawyer in Florida Super Lawyers, chosen for 10 straight years for the Best Lawyers in America, selected as “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine and “Florida Legal Elite” by Florida Trend magazine.

  • Suit filed for teen raped by Miami-Dade School teacher in classroom

    Complaint pg 1CBS4 12-18-2014-2

    NBC6 12-18-2014

    A 16 year-old student at Miami’s South Dade High School was sexually assaulted and raped by her geometry teacher in his classroom during school.  Teacher Bressniel Jansen has pleaded guilty to felonies involving the sexual abuse of this young girl, represented by Leighton Law’s John Elliott Leighton.  Leighton filed suit against the Miami-Dade School Board and Jansen for negligence, sexual assault and civil rights violations.  Making this even more outrageous is the fact that this same teacher was the subject of a complaint about inappropriate contact with another female student 5 years earlier at the very same school.  The School Board recognized that the communication by Jansen was inappropriate but failed to act in any way to punish or supervise him.  Five years later he took the virginity of his 16 year-old math student on his desk during the school day.  This followed months of “grooming” by Jansen where he fondled and molested the girl during school hours.  He approached her through text messaging and the school’s internal portal.

    The Miami-Dade School Board has refused to acknowledge any responsibility for this and has repeatedly ignored attempts to speak with the student’s family and counsel.  Now it will be up to a jury to decide who is responsible for these horrible events.

    Herald south-dade-high-t_Page_1

  • John Leighton Selected as “Orlando Legal Elite”

    Orlando Style cover Sept 2014 Legal EliteJohn Leighton Selected To Orlando Legal Elite

    Leighton Law managing partner John Elliott Leighton was selected as “Orlando’s Legal Elite” and featured in the September 2014 issue of Orlando Style magazine.  Mr. Leighton has won a number of notable and record-setting verdicts in Central Florida, including two $24 million verdicts.  The firm maintains its Central Florida office in downtown Orlando near the Orange County Courthouse to better serve Leighton Law clients.  Last September Leighton won a $7.4 million verdict for a man who suffered an amputated leg in a trucking crash in Central Florida.

  • John Leighton Featured In April 2014 Orlando Style Magazine As Top Medical Malpractice Lawyer

    John Leighton featured in April 2014 Orlando Style magazine as top medical malpractice lawyer

    John Leighton was featured as a top medical malpractice lawyer in the April 2014 issue of Orlando Style magazine. Mr. Leighton’s feature includes his passion for representing victims of mistakes. He points out the sad reality that up to 400,000 Americans lose their lives to medical mistakes each year. More than ten times the number killed in car accidents.

    Orlando Style Cover and Profile Apr 2014

  • Protecting Resort Guests: Parasailing Safety Bill Passes Florida Senate…Now On To House

    Ending The Annual Parasailing Carnage: Parasailing Bill Passes Florida Senate; Now On To The Florida House

    The Florida Legislature inched closer to providing some protections for vacationers who choose to enjoy parasailing in the Florida waters. Senate Bill 320 sponsored by Sen. Sachs and co-sponsored by Senators Margolis and Sobel provides minimum standards for parasailing safety. The bill passed and is now in the Florida House as House Bill 347. This legislation comes after 8 years of attempts to regulate this industry following annual carnage due to parasailing catastrophes. Each year people visiting Florida – as well as the State’s own citizens – are seriously injured or killed while parasailing because of inept, negligent or untrained operators. The bill sets minimum standards and requires liability insurance, something most of the typical fly-by-night operations skip. The initial bill, known as the “Amber May Act,” was named for Amber May White, who was killed in 2007 when the parasil she and her sister were riding broke loose in high winds and catapulted the sisters into a building. Amber May, 15, was killed. She was buried on what would have been her 16th birthday. Her sister, Crystal, sustained traumatic brain injuries. Leighton Law’s John Elliott Leighton represented the family and the girls’ mother, Shannon Kraus. Shannon and Leighton have tirelessly fought each year for passage of some protections for victims of parasailing injuries. They have met with legislators, spoken with the public and interacted with the media. Leighton has published articles and lectured extensively on parasailing safety measures and litigation arising out of resort and water sports and, specifically, parasailing. Since the White’s tragedy there have been a slew of other parasiling deaths and injuries. The new bill has been named the “White-Miskell Act” to reflect yet another victim whose family wants to prevent more carnage. It is our hope that this bill will pass and be signed into law as a starting point for resort and vacationer safety.

  • Medical Malpractice Caps on Damages Stricken by Florida Supreme Court

    In a long awaited opinion, Florida’s Supreme Court yesterday struck down the caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death. The detailed opinion concluded that the basis for the 2003 law limiting pain and suffering damages – an alleged malpractice crisis – was in fact nonexistent. The Court further noted that even if there had been such a crisis, it was over. The court found that even had there been such a crisis, the limitation of damages was an equal protection violation of Florida’s constitution. The Supreme Court recognized that these caps, which never resulted in savings to physicians anyway, penalized only the most severely injured. The full opinion can be found here: McCall v US – Striking Cap March 13, 2014-sc11-1148-1

  • Oops! Medical Mistakes Kill up to 400,000 American Each Year

    If a jumbo jet crashed into a mountain every day of the year, would we blame the victims? If health care providers are responsible for more than ten times the number of deaths on the highways each year, shouldn’t we all; care about providing a system of justice to take care of victims of medical mistakes and provide a disincentive to commit those errors?

    Right now health care mistakes are largely swept under the rug. There are few consequences for medical mistakes. Contrary to the propaganda put forth by the insurance and medical industries, there are very few medical malpractice cases that get to court or are even brought. There are limits on recoveries by those most seriously injured. And there are no consequences to the health providers.

  • John Leighton Hosts Successful "Sex, Drugs & Violence" Seminar for 2013-14

    John Leighton recently hosted Leighton Law`s annual "Sex, Drugs & Violence" seminar in downtown Miami. The attendees from throughout the legal field gained valuable knowledge and insight into premises security and violent crime civil litigation in Florida. In addition, they received five CLE credits, four of which are for civil trial certification. Topics covered during the interactive seminar included tactics and strategies in investigating, litigating and trying premises security cases, relevant statutes, codes and ordinances, as well as information regarding Florida`s new Daubert Law.

    leighton-43Valuable insight was also provided by guest speaker William Bopp, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Criminology at FAU. Bopp and Leighton drew from more than 30 years of practice to impart helpful anecdotes and strategies.
    Sponsors of the event included City National Bank, The Halpern Group, Friedman, Lombardi & Olson, Lingua Franca Translations, Galloway Office Supply, Velocity Social Media and Vine Communications.

    leighton-10

    A summary of the events of the seminar was published in the Daily Business Review on March 3, 2014:

    View or Download the Daily Business Review Supplement as a PDF document by clicking on: SDV Seminar DBR Insert March 3, 2014

    Sex Drugs & Violence

    November 2013 Seminar, Leighton Law, P.A., Miami and Orlando, Florida, The Bankers Club, Miami

    Supplement to the Daily Business Review March 3, 2014

    leighton-9The field of inadequate security litigation has been explosive in the last two decades. Florida is a leading state both in terms of violent crime as well as in its development of case law in the field of premises liability. For several years, Miami was the number one city for overall crime per 1,000 residents, and Broward County ranked third in the country for crime. In 2008, there was one violent crime every four minutes and 11 seconds in Florida. That means that crime – and inadequate security litigation – is a growth industry.

    Editor`s Note: John Elliott Leighton is the managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A., a trial law firm with offices in Miami and Orlando. A board certified trial lawyer, his practice is focused on the representation of severely injured victims, primarily due to the failure to maintain reasonable or adequate security at commercial premises, resort injuries, medical malpractice, vehicle collision, and consumer product liability. He is the author of the book, Litigating Premises Security Cases (West 2006)

    Both the plaintiff and the defense side need to understand that security cases are serious matters. The damages in these cases need to be significant because these are complex, expensive, time-consuming cases that may involve death and serious injuries. Because of their complexity and cost a security case can take a long time. In almost every case there is a need to engage one or more experts.

    With negligent security cases, the plaintiff is almost always seeking to recover damages from a third party. Understanding the basis of liability is the crucial first part of any case.

    Screening the case

    Screening a security the case is the most important step in the entire process. It`s better to turn down a bad case than take one that will keep you from handling more productive matters. Since your time, money and reputation are on the line, don`t lose sleep if you decide to pass on a case.

    When screening a negligent security case, it`s important backwards. Start by assessing damages. If the case involves a sprained wrist or broken foot, you probably won`t be able to justify the time and money you need to put into the case. Insurance companies are willing to spend heavily to defend even a small case. Damages have to justify the investment both for counsel as well as the client. It is important to communicate the economics to the client during the pendency of the case.

    Insurance coverage can be a major issue in these cases. Many insurers have added exclusions to their policies, and as a result a business or property owner may be uninsured and unable to satisfy a judgment.

    Finally, remember that the facts are not always what they seem. You might think that the law and the facts points toward a solid position, but an expert in criminology or security might tell you something completely different. Don`t cut corners, since a thorough investigation can make a big difference in the outcome of a trial.

    Types of security cases

    There are many types of negligent security cases, which include:

    • Security guards and guard services. These can be based on acts or omissions.
    • Lighting.
    • Security mechanisms and equipment.
    • Security policies or procedures.
    • Property design. Fences, landscaping, entrances and exits all play a part.
    • Key control cases involving hotels, apartments, dormitories, etc.
    • Supervision cases involving employees at nursing homes, schools and day care centers, etc.
    • Hiring/retention cases: An employer who does not have proper screening procedures in place

    In general, crimes between acquaintances or where a victum has been targeted by the criminal prove more difficult.

    Most premises security cases involve a crime of opportunity committed against a victim who was previously unknown to the assailant.

    Who has the duty?

    Although there are many complexities in inadequate security litigation, these cases have at their heart basic premises liability law. As in all tort cases, a duty must first be established as a threshold for liability.

    A property owner has a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and give warning of concealed perils that are or should be known to people who come on to the property. Businesses are obliged to protect its guests from reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct and a there is a non-delegable duty to provide reasonable protection against third-party criminal attacks.

    The issue of foreseeability

    Demonstrating foreseeability is a key factor in negligent premises security cases. Should the owner, landlord or business have foreseen the possibility of a violent crime or other incident?

    Past incidents and crimes on and near the property in conjunction with experts. Knowledge of prior crimes is relevant on the issue of foreseeability.Police crime grids and incident reports provide a good starting point to analyze foreseeability.

    Next, look at the defendant`s internal records, which may include incidents that were not reported to the police.

    Using expert witnesses

    This field of litigation has seen a wide range of expert witnesses, from seasoned criminologists like Dr. Bopp to academics who try to manipulate statistics and "flip-floppers" who will say anything for a price. There are also a number of ex-cops who now lay claim to being "security consultants." Just remember a cased can be destroyed by using a so-called expert whose testimony gets excluded.

    Choosing the right experts is even more important since Florida adopted the Daubert standard in July, 2013. In essence, Daubert puts the trial judge in the position of a gatekeeper with regard to expert testimony. That means both the plaintiff and the defense need to be sure their experts can meet the new criteria.

    Building the case

    In addition to gathering evidence from documents, it`s important to investigate the crime scene and talk with police officers, and other potential witnesses. Getting an expert involved early in the case canhelp you determine the right questions to ask during depositions, so that you get the answers you need for your case. Here are some issues to consider when preparing for depositions:

    • Has security been increased or decreased, either in the number of guards, pattern of deployment of budget size?
    • Can you find a property and compare the two security policies and practices? For instance, there might be less security in a lower-rent apartment complex for budgetary reasons.
    • Has there been a change in the size of the property? A shopping center might add a second floor or a new wing without a proportional increase in its security force.
    • Has there been a change in the nature of the business? If a bar or an adult book store opens at a local shopping center, security may need to increase because the property may attract "rough" customers.
    • Has there been a rise in the crime rate in the area or on the property?
    • Have there been prior requests for additional security on the property or complaints from patrons?
    • If security cameras are used on the premises, what are the monitoring policies and procedures?
    • Have employees been given security procedures to use when parking their cars or leaving the establishment at night?

    Another tactic is to conduct a reverse surveillance of the property. Have your investigator go on site to see the real dynamics of the security program before filing your suit. If the defense says, "We always have a security guard at the gatehouse" and you learn that`s not really the case, you can turn the tables on the defense.

    In general, when the owner, tenant or business appears to be primarily concerned with protecting its own assets – but not the public -there is a strong foundation for your case. After all, juries don`t like to see companies putting their profits ahead of people`s security.

    After you have done your homework, it`s time to employ tenacious written and oral discovery. This is the key to winning these cases. When you walk into a courtroom, you want to be able to predict the outcome based on what has been uncovered in the discovery process and the testimony secured from it. So, choose knowledgeable experts, gather the facts and obtain the depositions, and you`ll have a solid foundation in place for trying a negligent premises security case.

    Applying the Lessons of Criminology

    By Dr. William Bopp

    If you are new to the field of negligent premises security cases, I recommend that you read one or more of the college textbooks on criminology. They explain the theories and the studies about crime in an easily understandable way. One of the dominant themes is that you can`t prevent crimes unless you can predict when and where they will happen.

    By focusing on the issue of predictability, criminologists have helped law enforcement officers apply more effective crime-fighting policies and procedures. As a result, the nation`s crime rate has fallen about 50 percent, despite the daily barrage of media coverage.

    In general, criminals are lazy, insecure, easily discouraged and incapable of planning ahead. That means that applying the right security measures can be highly effective in preventing crimes.

    For example, security assessments of a property can help owners and landlords reduce their risks by pointing out the need for fences, walls, gates, lights and guard patrol strategies. Having significant deterrents in place makes it more likely that a rational criminal will look for other opportunities.

    One of the most important findings of the past 20 years was that police officers were most effective when they focused on patrolling the 10 percent of addresses in a neighborhood that were identified as high-crime locations. That`s a far better strategy than random patrolling.

    Armed robbers clearly prefer a target with minimal risks, even if the potential reward is low. That`s why you see more robberies at ATMs than inside bank branches. In a study funded by the convenience store industry, researchers talked with 300 convicted robbers about why they picked a certain store. The number one reason was an easy escape route. Video cameras, lighting and having an unarmed guard on the premises were much lower on the list.

    Common sense indicates that lack of an easy escape route can reduce the risk of crimes of opportunity. A jewelry store that has two doors, so you have to stand in an alcove before being buzzed in, is not likely to have an armed robber coming in – or going out. A gated residential community with a 24-hour manned guard post is less likely to have break-ins because a burglar would need to walk a long distance to his car.

    As for foreseeability, studies have shown that a business in a city has about an 8 percent chance of a robbery. But if a robbery does occur, the likelihood of a second robbery increases to 24 percent. After four or five robberies, there is a 100 percent chance on a similar crime, unless significant security measures are taken, such as hiring an armed guard.

    QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM THE ATTENDEES:

    Q. Can video surveillance deter crimes?

    Bopp: The best situation for deterrence is when someone is watching the video and has a loudspeaker to talk to someone on property and it is interactive.

    Q. Should the owner of a small shopping center hire a guard?

    Bopp: Hiring an armed guard for 24-hour coverage can cost $80,000 to $100,000 a year, which may be more than the owner collects in rent. But if the owner says "I couldn`t afford a guard," the plaintiff`s attorney may be able to examine the owner`s financial records.

    Q. Can a concealed weapon be a deterrent?

    Bopp: If a gun is hidden, it`s not a deterrent. If you want to deter a criminal, it`s better to wear it on your hip.

    Q. How long do police grids cover in terms of time?

    Bopp: They can go back for 10 years.

    Q. How far back should you search?

    Bopp: I usually go back five years. If there`s a problem like a series of robberies, I try to trace things back to see why it started.

    John Elliott Leighton (Board certified trial lawyer)

    John Elliott Leighton is the managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A., a Miami and Orlando trial law firm. He represents victims of negligence and the families of those whose lives have been taken due to the fault of others. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He specializes in catastrophic injury, maritime, resort injuries, inadequate premises security/violent crime, motor vehicle/motorcycle/trucking crashes, brain injury, medical malpractice, product liability, legal malpractice andcomplex commercial litigation.

    John is an accomplished author, having published numerous articles, books and book chapters on a variety of personal injury and trial skills topics. His writings have been featured articles in Trial magazine seven times. He is a frequent national lecturer at legal programs and conventions and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states.

    Mr. Leighton regularly chairs national trial skills colleges and seminars. He sits on the National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees Executive Committee and is past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America`s Motor Vehicle, Highway and Premises Liability Section. He is the current Chairman of its Inadequate Security Litigation Group, which he has chaired since 1996. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation only organization of the country`s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers. John is also a charter member of the Cooperative Association of Medical Malpractice Attorneys, a national consortium of top medical malpractice trial lawyers and is on the national Board of Advisors of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, having received its 2007 "Advocate of Justice" award.

    Mr. Leighton is the author of the two-volume text, Litigating Premises Security Cases (West Publishing, 2006). It is the most comprehensive treatise on investigating, preparing, litigating and trying inadequate premises security cases, and he updates it annually.

    He has been sought out to consult and litigate premises security cases throughout the United States, including Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, Hawaii and Georgia. He is often called upon to handle catastrophic and complex matters in other states, and his victories on behalf of families who have lost loved ones to negligence have resulted in record setting verdicts and settlements.

    Mr. Leighton was lead counsel in the nationally recognized parasailing death case involving 15 year-old Amber May White. Amber and her sister Crystal were parasailing in Pompano Beach, Florida in August 2007 when an improperly maintained parasail combined with negligence on the part of the operator caused the parasail to break loose, hurtling the two girls into a hotel.

    Amber was killed and Crystal suffered head injuries. Mr. Leighton has fought for passage of a law regulating the parasailing industry, known as "the Amber May Act." He often appears on news shows such as CNN and NBC`s Today Show as a legal consultant.

    Mr. Leighton has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, voted as one of the "Top Lawyers" in the South Florida Legal Guide for the last ten years, has been named a Florida SuperLawyer (and voted as one of the top 100 of all Florida SuperLawyers), and has been elected to the Florida Trend magazine "Legal Elite" Top Lawyers in Florida by peer selection. He is rated as "10.0/10 – Superb" by AVVO.com and holds an AV rating (highest possible) by Martindale-Hubbell.

    Leighton received his undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Florida, where he was an editor of the Florida Law Review, competed on the Trial Team, and taught first-year jurisprudence.

    Dr. William J. Bopp (Expert Witness)

    William J. Bopp is Professor Emeritus of Criminology at Florida Atlantic University, where he was the founder and first Chairman of the department. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Bopp is an accomplished criminologist and security expert. He is the author of nine books and scores of journal articles, book chapters and published papers, many of which are studies of crime, criminals and victims.

    He has been invited to lecture at institutions such as the FBI`s National Academy, the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville, and the universities of Texas, Georgia, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.

    He has served as the crime prevention consultant to and conducted security surveys for entities and properties such as Walt Disney World; Busch Gardens, Tampa and its water park; Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA and its water park; Sheraton Inns; Taco Bell; Burger King; Circle K convenience stores; The Florida Gas Corp.; Metrorail; and dozens of apartment complexes, jewelry exchanges, office buildings, strip malls, regional shopping centers, bars and nightclubs, restaurants, etc.

    Dr. Bopp has testified as an expert in negligent security cases, and was a police officer for 10 years: five years in Miami-Dade County and five years in Oakland, California.

  • Leighton Law Negligent Premises Security Litigation Seminar 2013

    On Thursday, November 21, John Leighton will host Leighton Law`s annual “Sex, Drugs & Violence” seminar. Not only will attendees gain valuable knowledge and insight into premises security and violent crime civil litigation in Florida, they will also receive five CLE credits, four of which are for civil trial certification. Seminar topics range from tactics and strategies in investigating, litigating and trying premises security cases, relevant statutes, codes and ordinances, as well as information regarding Florida`s new Daubert Law.

    Highlights of the day will include insight from guest speaker William Bopp, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Criminology. Bopp and Leighton will impart helpful anecdotes and strategies learned from first-hand experiences during more than 30 years of practice. The seminar will take place from 8 am-1 pm at Miami`s Bankers Club, inside One Biscayne Tower. For more information and to register, visit http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/event_registration.jsp?id=1202618730432.

  • Leighton Law’s John Leighton obtains a $7,400,000 verdict

    Leighton Law’s John Leighton obtained a $7,400,000 verdict on behalf of a man whose leg was amputated following a crash with a semi-tractor trailer.  The truck crossed into oncoming traffic after smoke and fog had resulted in zero visibility conditions on a major roadway.  When he lost visibility, the trucker attempted to slow and pull off the roadway, but had no idea where he was and instead his rig ended up in the median, which caused a loss of control in the grass.  A number of other vehicles crashed due to the loss of visibility, which was due to a fire burning a mile away which had produced enormous smoke and combined with early morning fog.  Erb v. Peninsula Logistics, Inc. and Loran Smith, Case No. 12 CA 1509, Osceola County Circuit Court. You can read more here: $7.4 million verdict in truck crash (Orlando Sentinel).

     

     

     

     

     

    The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm`s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted).  Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case.  By clicking on portions of this web site you are acknowledging that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.

  • Five Things That Can Turn Your Beach Vacation Into A Nightmare

    In this article featured on TheLaw.tv, John Leighton provides insight into five things to keep in mind when you’re planning a beach vacation. You can read more here: http://news.thelaw.tv/2013/11/07/five-things-that-can-turn-your-beach-vacation-into-a-nightmare/ 

  • Halloween horrors produce many dangers for kids

    With Halloween approaching, many people are putting the final touches on their costumes, buying candy to hand out and planning which parties to attend. But it`s important to remember that there is more to keep in mind than which trick-or-treating route you`re going to take.

    Many people don`t know that children are twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night, according to The American College of Emergency Physicians. Additionally, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that nearly 60 percent of Halloween highway fatalities involve impaired drivers, so adults who are attending parties should be sure to have a designated driver. To help avoid these accidents, children should carry flashlights, and stick reflective tape on costumes and treat bags so drivers can easily spot them. Or even better, parents should choose a glow-in-the-dark costume for kids.

    Accidental stabbings and wounds are also a danger to consider. Because many costumes incorporate swords and knives, children can accidently pierce someone with these costume accessories, so it`s best to buy or make costume weapons only of flexible material. Costumes can act as another hazard when they interfere with the wearer`s ability to walk. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury on Halloween.

    While the glow of a candle lighting up a Jack-o-Lantern`s face is the ultimate symbol of Halloween, it`s important to remember that these can also be fire hazards. Solutions to this issue include replacing real flame candles with battery operated candles and making sure to read costume labels carefully and dress children only in “flame resistant” materials.

    Personal injury attorney John E. Leighton has a passion for representing individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of others. Mr. Leighton has extensive experience with litigating and trying complex motor vehicle and trucking cases throughout Florida and around the country, as well as being a board certified civil trial specialist who has spent 28 years working for victims of negligence in personal injury matters.

    Make sure to have a happy and safe Halloween this year.

  • Federal Judge Says Florida Medical Malpractice Consent Rule Preempted By Federal Law – Now Headed to Federal Appeals Court

    Recently, a federal judge struck down a key Florida medical malpractice law that required a patient to allow a defending physician`s attorney to informally discuss the case with the patient`s other health care providers. The law would have allowed those discussions to take place without the patient or their representative being present. Just this week, the defendant in the case gave notice that he will challenge the ruling in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

    U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that this law in fact violates provisions in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Earlier this year, lawmakers in Florida added a requirement that pre-suit notification must include the patient`s authorization allowing a defending physician, the physician`s attorney, insurer and adjuster to hold ex parte discussions with the patient`s previous and subsequent health care providers without the patient and/or their attorney being present.

    While the law states those discussions are supposed to be limited to general questions about legal procedures, the potential legal exposure faced by the subsequent treating health care providers, and how any testimony could affect their board certifications, those limitations are so broad there is no way to guarantee that they would not cross the boundary into the patient`s medical condition. Judge Hinkle pointed out that just because Florida lawmakers mandate that patients sign the consent form, it does not supersede two of the provisions of HIPAA.

    Personal injury attorney John E. Leighton has a passion for representing individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of others, and has been deeply involved in many medical malpractice cases. Mr. Leighton has won a number of cases in this area, including a record $24.1 million settlement for a birth trauma case resulting in cerebral palsy. Other significant verdicts and settlements include $11.2+ million for a case in which birth trauma caused brain damage, a $9 million settlement for brain damage resulting from surgery and $4.3 million for death resulting from delayed medical attention.

    You can read more on this topic here – http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2013/10/02/307036.htm and http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/blog/morning-edition/2013/10/floridas-medical-malpractice-fight.html

  • Negligent Premises Security Litigation Seminar: Sex, Drugs & Violence

    On October 17, Leighton Law will be hosting its annual Sex, Drugs & Violence seminar, an informative and interactive event that will cover the law of inadequate security litigation in Florida, tactics and strategies in investigating, litigating and trying premises security cases, as well as relevant statutes, codes, ordinances and Florida`s new Daubert law.

    William Bopp, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, will be the event`s guest speaker, and he and John Elliott Leighton will share insights and strategies cultivated from nearly 30 years of litigating these fascinating cases. Attendees of the event will receive an approved for 5 hours of CLE credits including 4 for civil trial certification. The event will take place at The Bankers Club, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. To register, visit www.LeightonLaw.com. Registration fee, which includes continental breakfast, is $85.00.

    Becoming an Event Sponsor
    Not only will sponsors of this seminar have the opportunity to reach a prestigious group of high profile attorneys, but they will also have the ability to reach an audience beyond the symposium itself, as Leighton Law has partnered with the Daily Business Review, where sponsors will be featured in advertising, e-flyers, website and an eight page post-seminar insert in the Daily Business Review. Reach more than 40,000 prominent readers throughout South Florida by becoming a sponsor today. For more information on becoming a sponsor, email Kendall Delacruz at KD@leightonlaw.com or call 888.395.0001.

  • John Leighton in the News

    John Leighton’s inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2014 has been covered on City Biz List and the South Florida Business Journal.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.13.44 AM

    John E. Leighton Named To The Best Lawyers In America For 7th Consecutive Year

    August 22, 2013

    John Elliott Leighton has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2014, the seventh year in a row he has been recognized for his outstanding work in the practice areas of Personal Injury Litigation and Product Liability Litigation. Best Lawyers is regarded by both the industry and the public as the most credible guide to legal excellence in United States.

    Mr. Leighton is Managing Partner at Leighton Law, and is a Florida Bar board certified civil trial lawyer with 28 years of experience in litigating and trying complex and catastrophic cases in all state and federal courts, particularly personal injury and wrongful death; medical malpractice; violent crime/negligent premises security; trucking and motor vehicle crash; nursing home neglect; product liability; aviation disaster; cruise ship and maritime; commercial litigation; legal malpractice and other civil cases. With offices in Miami and Orlando, Leighton Law represents individuals who have been seriously injured or have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others.

    Mr. Leighton is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases, a two-volume book published by Thomson-West. It is a comprehensive text on investigating, preparing, litigating and trying inadequate security cases and representing crime victims. He is a frequent lecturer at national legal programs including Florida Bar CLE courses, and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states. Mr. Leighton has been elected Chairman of The Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only association of some of the nation`s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers.

    Selection for Best Lawyers is based on a rigorous, peer-review survey comprised of more than four million confidential evaluations by top attorneys in the country. Best Lawyers has been described by The American Lawyer as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice,” and it continues to be one of the most visible and targeted peer review publications in the legal profession through its partnerships with top-tier media outlets including: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and over 85 regional magazines and international newspapers.

    For more information on John Leighton and his practice areas, please visit www.leightonlaw.com.

    – See more at: http://southflorida.citybizlist.com/article/john-e-leighton-named-best-lawyers-america-7th-consecutive-year#sthash.eUrbsR4W.dpuf

    Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.10.40 AM

    John E. Leighton | People on the Move

    photo of John E. Leighton

    • John E. Leighton
    • Date added:August 28, 2013
    • Submission Type:Professional Recognition
    • Current employer:Leighton Law
    • Current title/position:Managing Partner
    • Industry: Legal Services
    • Position level:Managing Partner
    • Position department:Legal
    • Reason for being recognized:John Elliott Leighton has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2014, the seventh year in a row he has been recognized for his outstanding work in the practice areas of personal injury litigation and product liability litigation. Best Lawyers is regarded as the most credible guide to legal excellence in the U.S.
  • John E. Leighton Named to The Best Lawyers in America for 7th Consecutive Year

    John Elliott Leighton has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2014, the seventh year in a row he has been recognized for his outstanding work in the practice areas of Personal Injury Litigation and Product Liability Litigation. Best Lawyers is regarded by both the industry and the public as the most credible guide to legal excellence in United States.

    Mr. Leighton is Managing Partner at Leighton Law, and is a Florida Bar board certified civil trial lawyer with 28 years of experience in litigating and trying complex and catastrophic cases in all state and federal courts, particularly personal injury and wrongful death; medical malpractice; and violent crime/negligent premises security, among others. With offices in Miami and Orlando, Leighton Law represents individuals who have been seriously injured or have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others.

    Mr. Leighton is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases, a two-volume book published by Thomson-West. It is a comprehensive text on investigating, preparing, litigating and trying inadequate security cases and representing crime victims. He is a frequent lecturer at national legal programs including Florida Bar CLE courses, and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states. Mr. Leighton has been elected Chairman of The Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only association of some of the nation`s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers.

    Selection for Best Lawyers is based on a rigorous, peer-review survey comprised of more than four million confidential evaluations by top attorneys in the country. Best Lawyers has been described by The American Lawyer as "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice," and it continues to be one of the most visible and targeted peer review publications in the legal profession through its partnerships with top-tier media outlets including: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and over 85 regional magazines and international newspapers.

  • South Florida Sun Sentinel Features John Leighton’s Parasailing Safety Article

    Parasailing Injury and Death Cases Require Changes in Parasailing Laws in Florida
    13.8.5 S Fla Sun Sentinel copy

     

    Read the full article here:

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/fl-jlcol-parasailing-oped0803-20130805,0,7488326.story 

     

     

     

     

     

  • John Leighton’s Article Featured in Panama City News Herald

    Scan

  • Your Cruise Vacation May Be Much More Adventurous Than You Anticipated: Major Cruise Lines Admit Faults with Cruise Safety

    Throughout the past 16 months, case after case concerning cruise ship safety has been brought to public attention.  Finally, lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate recently announced legislation that would require information about reported crimes to be made available to the public.  To appease the courts and the public, the three largest cruise lines, all based in Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line, have voluntarily agreed to publish these reports.

    The reports will include categories required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, concerning sexual assault, theft greater than $10,000, tampering with the vessel, assault with serious injuries, kidnapping, missing U.S. nationals, and suspicious death or homicide.  The crime reports are a major step forward for the credibility of cruise lines and will allow the public to make educated decisions when choosing their vacation vessel.

    Personal injury attorney John Leighton has a passion for representing individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of others, and has had a front row view of many of the cruise catastrophes that have occurred.  Mr. Leighton has won several cases regarding negligence on cruises, including one in which a passenger was struck when a mishandled mooring line snapped and crashed through a window, causing injuries that the cruise line denied. He has also obtained recoveries for passengers who have been injured in falls, sexual assaults and shore excursions gone awry.  His experience in representing seriously injured vacationers has resulted in his being named a Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer for several years in a row.

    The hope is that the new changes, brought about as a result of continued litigation against the major cruise lines, will result in a safer cruise environment.  People vacationing forget that these are floating cities run by corporations with one motive: profit.  They hire foreign nationals for which they do not need to comply with American labor standards and cut corners whenever they can.  As a result tragedy sometimes occurs.

    You can read more regarding this new legislation here – http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/24/3519723/in-senate-grilling-cruise-leaders.html.

     

  • Florida Legislature Makes Expert Testimony More Difficult To Use

    As of July 1st, Florida has replaced the Frye standard, which was the standard by which expert testimony was admitted.  This past legislative session, a bill passed that adopted the Daubert standard, which has been the law in federal courts.  Although initially intended as a more liberal and progressive means of determining the admissibility of expert testimony, Daubert has become a device used by defendants to slow the litigation process and make it more cumbersome and expensive.  This is particularly relevant now that the Florida court system has been hit with several years of budget cuts.

    The new standard amends section 90.702 of the Florida Statuses by abolishing opinion testimony, and requiring expert witness testimonies to be: 1) based on sufficient facts or data, 2) the product of reliable methods and principles, and 3) the expert witness has applied those principles and methods reliably to the facts in the case.   State court judges will play a big role in the law, as they will have to determine whether the standards have been sufficiently met for an expert testimony to be approved for the trial.

    Personal injury attorney John Leighton deals with expert witnesses on a daily basis and was called upon by the American Association for Justice to moderate its on July 9th titled, DAUBERT STRATEGIES AND LITIGATION UPDATE TELESEMINAR.  To purchase a playback of the seminar, please visit http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/21368.htm.

     

     

  • Florida Trend Names John Leighton Among the 2013 Legal Elite

    Every year, Florida Trend recognizes the top attorneys in the state as chosen by their peers in the Legal Elite special report. This year is its 10th Anniversary and John Leighton, once again made the list of Florida’s Legal Leaders.

    To see this year’s full list, please visit http://www.floridatrend.com/legal-elite, and congratulations to all the attorneys that made are this year’s Legal Elite!

    Florida Trend 2013 Legal Elite

  • Leighton’s Latest Newsletter Summer 2013

    LeightonSummer2013lg

  • The Parasailing Carnage Continues: Two Teens in Critical Condition After Parasailing Accident in Panama City

    Two 17 year-olds from Indiana are in critical condition today after their parasail crashed in a Panama City Beach parking lot.  The Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports that a parasail had been attached to a boat Monday afternoon when the line broke, with one victim being rescued after dropping into the Gulf of Mexico and two other people continuing on until the parasail crashed into a nearby parking lot.

    Described as “gruesome” by one witness, the teens smashed into a building, carried on to a power line and crashed into several cars inside the parking lot. The victims both went limp after hitting the side of the condo and only one was conscious when rescuers arrived, the report said.

    This is yet another example of why John Leighton has been working diligently for years to spearhead legislation that will bring regulation to this rogue industry.   This latest case once again raises the question – just how many people will have to be critically injured or even die before changes are made?

    “How high does the body count have to get before the Florida Legislature will actually pass one of the bills on parasailing safety?” asks Leighton following this tragedy.  “For the past six years there have been bills to prevent this exact event, and each year the bills die.”

    Leighton has been working with Shannon Kraus, mother of two teens who were victimized in an almost identical catastrophe in 2007 off of Pompano Beach.

    Screen shot 2013-07-03 at 11.02.08 AM

    Kraus is the mother of 15-year-old Amber May White. In 2007 Leighton represented this family and  brought a negligence lawsuit against the parasail operators and the resort where Amber May was killed. Amber May died while parasailing from head trauma along with internal injuries, sustained when she crashed into a building when the parasail on which she was riding snapped. Amber`s  sister Crystal suffered head injuries in this tragedy. Leighton and Kraus` efforts have resulted in a bill which they hope will finally become a law this year.

    You can read more on the accident here – http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/02/2-teens-in-critical-condition-after-parasailing-accident-in-panama-city-florida/

  • Be Prepared as Things Heat Up for the Fourth of July

    As the heat continues to turn up and with July just around the corner, everyone is getting ready to celebrate our nation`s independence. Parties are being planned, parades are being prepared, and charcoal and fireworks are being purchased. But with the holiday fun on everyone`s mind, it`s easy to forget the problems and dangers that can come along with it.

    As a personal injury and consumer safety attorney, John Leighton knows how quickly problems can arise when there isn`t proper planning during a Fourth of July celebration. Along with being one of the most dangerous days for driving, there are several other risks to be aware of in order to stay safe on this holiday.  Below are some points to consider:

    • Traffic statistics show more teen drivers are killed on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.
    • U.S hospitals report that each year fireworks are the cause of over one hundred cases of serious injuries.
    • Most people injured by fireworks are fourteen to seventeen years old.
    • Without proper grill preparation, ingestion of cleaning brush bristles can cause serious internal injuries.
    • Improper parade preparation or oversight can put children in danger of being hit by floats or of animals getting loose.

    So while making preparations for the upcoming festivities, be sure to keep in mind the safety and health precautions that should also be put in place during the holiday.  It only takes a little extra thought to plan ahead for any complications that may arise, and ultimately avoid dangerous situations and serious injuries.

  • Negligent Vacation Packaging Against Timeshare Promoter – Florida Supreme Court Allows Case Sent to Mexico to Be Brought in Miami

    Reversing an appellate court which had upheld a motion to transfer the case to Mexico, Florida`s Supreme Court last week held that a case brought against a resort company which marketed to tourists to promote and sell timeshares at a resort in Mexico should not be dismissed.

    In Cortez v. Palace Resorts, a woman was lured to a Mexican resort in an attempt to sell her a timeshare. As part of that inducement, the resort gave her a massage. During the massage, the masseuse sexually assaulted Cortez.

    Cortez brought her case in Miami against three Florida businesses that all operated out of Miami. She claimed that the acts giving rise to her case, which included negligent vacation packaging, occurred in Miami. The trial court granted the defendants` motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens, and Florida`s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed. In a dissent by Judge Rothenberg, she wrote that "The Florida defendants, with a straight face, claim that [Mexico] is a more convenient forum to litigate a United States Citizen`s negligent vacation packaging claim against them, although Miami is where their corporate headquarters is located…" The dissent went on to enumerate other factors in favor of keeping the case in Florida.

    Cortez sought review by Florida`s Supreme Court, which on June 20, 2013 reversed the 3rd District and held that the trial court erred in dismissing the case. Finding that the 3rd District incorrectly applied the Kinney test [for forum non conveniens], and also ruled that the trial court erred in failing to give a strong presumption against disturbing the plaintiff`s choice of forum because she was a California resident. The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff`s residency in another state did not mitigate her right to have the strong presumption in her favor. The Supreme Court adopted much of the dissenting opinion.

    According to the Court, Miami is the operational, managerial and marketing center for the entire Palace Resorts Group and is a proper place for the claims being asserted.

    Cortez v. Palace Resorts, SC11-1908, June 20, 2013, further clarifies the Court`s prior holding in Kinney System v. Continental Insurance, 674 So.2d 86 (Fla. 1996), which was the Supreme Court`s prior pronouncement on the issue of forum non conveniens.

    iStock_000005977963Medium

  • What`s Even More Important Than Being a Lawyer? Being a Dad.

    John Leighton takes his profession very seriously. Something he takes even more seriously is being a father to his daughter Taryn. Especially with Father`s Day last weekend, it was time to spend some serious quality time together and one way that John and Taryn were able to do so was by attending a BNI meeting together.

    Although it was an early start for high school student Taryn on a summer morning, it was well worth it to spend time with Dad and see the ways in which he networks with other Miami professionals. After all, BNI is the world’s largest business networking organization. With this head start and insider tips from a variety of experts, Taryn is well on her way to a successful career of her own one day!

     

    vT4d_Gd6GPtZkDOB7zMJ9Ty1qSPrQ9rrnwX4lp5zrbw

     

  • John Leighton Named Top 100 Florida Super Lawyer

    John Leighton, managing partner of Leighton Law and Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist, has been named a Top 100 Florida Super Lawyer for 2013 by Super Lawyers Magazine.

    Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

    Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries.

    In the United States, Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.

    13.6.4-SuperLawyers Top 100_Page_113.6.4-SuperLawyers Top 100_Page_2

  • Florida’s Texting-While-Driving Ban

    Driving While Distracted has become one of the leading causes of crashes and preventable deaths in the United States and an area in which John Leighton has done much work, lecturing and writing on the serious problems of driving while distracted, including texting, emailing, web surfing, telephoning and use of electronics. In fact, on April 30, 2010, the day declared by Oprah and the media as National No Phone Zone Day, John Leighton delivered a lecture on “DWD: Driving While Distracted – The New DUI” to the American Association for Justice`s Jazzfest Seminar: Litigating

    While John Leighton is pleased to see some progress being made in Florida, with the recent signing of the texting-while-driving ban, as the headline of this article suggests, unfortunately, it really is a ban without any teeth.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/28/3420835/rick-scott-signs-texting-while.html

    _practice_all_clip_image002

  • Leighton Law Case Discussed on WLRN

    The compelling story of the Kashi Ashram case, one of John Leighton`s recently filed lawsuits, was discussed on WLRN recently, during an interview with Miami New Times reporter Terence McCoy, who first reported the story.  The lawsuit is on behalf of the daughter of Kashi Founder, Ma Jaya Bhagavati Cho, who endured sexual abuse, was forced into a marriage at age 14 to a 25 year-old, and was emotionally tortured; all under her mother`s orders.  This cult was founded in Miami and was based right off Old Cutler Road for years before moving to its current compound location in Sebastian, FL.

    Now in her 40s, the leader`s daughter has been flooded with repressed memories that were triggered by the recent death of her mother and cult leader Ma Jaya. She looks to seek justice not only for herself, but for other members of the Kashi Ashram who suffered similar abuse.  The Kashi Ashram has been identified as a destructive cult since the early 1980s by various media outlets, and stories of child abduction, abuse, and brainwashing have been common.

    You can listen to the interview here:

    http://wlrn.org/post/how-jewish-brooklyn-housewife-became-guru-rural-florida

  • Most Arrests During Miami`s Urban Beach Week Drinking and Drug Related

    This past Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of people flocked to Miami to celebrate the holiday during the annual Urban Beach Week. The weekend, well known to be the time for an increase in arrests on the beach, actually came to a close fairly quietly, but remains a reminder of the dangers than can accompany excessive drinking and large crowds. Of the total 414 arrests, the majority of crimes were non-violent, such as drug use and public drinking, but as a personal injury and negligent security attorney, John Leighton knows how easy it is for these kinds of behaviors at large events to quickly escalate into something significantly more dangerous.

    The number of arrests showed a slight increase since last year, meaning more visitors and participants were potentially put at risk for personal injuries. Out of the 341 misdemeanors filed, drugs, DUI, and drinking in public accounted for a third of them. Drug-related crimes also made up 40 percent of the 73 felonies.

    Leighton knows that proper planning and management is key for major events like this, where excessive drinking and overcrowding can easily lead to injuries. Last year`s event did in fact lead to multiple shootings, however, fortunately the number of calls to Miami Beach 911 decreased, and overall Miami Beach Police Sgt. Bobby Hernandez said it was “a very successful Memorial Day on the public safety side.” The police were able to provide a safe and secure location for visitors and residents alike, minimizing as much disruption as possible.

    urban-beach-week-2013

  • Leighton Law Case Featured in The Miami Herald – Suits Filed in Fatal Crash Involving Hialeah Cop

    Two lawsuits have been filed as a result of the accident that killed the daughter of a Miami-Dade School Board member.

    miami_herald_logo
    Hialeah

    The Miami Herald – Suits filed in fatal crash involving Hialeah cop

    _suits_filled_09_05_2013

  • Leighton Law Case Featured on Local10.com – Lawsuit Filed Against City of Hialeah

    local_10_logo

    http://www.local10.com/news/lawsuit-filed-against-city-of-hialeah/-/1717324/20034332/-/ep8qu4/-/index.html

    Local10.com – Lawsuit filed against city of Hialeah

     

    Woman killed after crash with Hialeah police cruiser

    Published On: May 06 2013 02:37:02 PM EDT   Updated On: May 07 2013 12:27:03 PM EDT

    _lawsuit_filled_09_05_2013

     

    HIALEAH, Fla. –

    A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Hialeah regarding a fatal car crash that took the life of 21-year-old Andrea Castillo and critically injured 23-year-old Marco Barrios.

    The crash, which involved a Hialeah police cruiser, happened on Oct. 19, 2012 at the corner of East 9th Court and 49th Street in Hialeah.

    Barrios` attorney, John Leighton, says he obtained new surveillance tape from a car dealership across the street from where the incident happened.

    The surveillance tape reportedly shows what happened just after the 2012 black Jeep driven by Barrios was broadsided by a cruiser driven by Hialeah Police Officer Raul Somarriba.

    The crash sparked controversy after Castillo’s mother, Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo, questioned the decision to transport Somarriba to the hospital via air rescue, while her daughter was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

    Susie Castillo believes her daughter may have survived if she had been taken to the hospital by air rescue like the officer was.

     

     

  • Leighton Law Case Featured on CBS Miami – Exclusive: City Of Hialeah Sued In Deadly Police- Involved Crash


    cbs_miami_logo

    CBS Miami – Exclusive: City Of Hialeah Sued In Deadly Police-Involved Crash

    May 3, 2013 8:13 PM

    _hilegh_sued_09_05_2013

    Questions have been raised concerning the Hialeah Police Departments initial findings in their investigation of a deadly crash involving one of their officers and the daughter of a newly-elected Miami-Dade School Board member. (Source: CBS4)

    HIALEAH (CBS4) – CBS4 has obtained striking new surveillance tape of a deadly crash involving a Hialeah Police cruiser.

    That crash took the life of the daughter of a Miami-Dade School Board member. Now, the attorney for the survivor of that crash has filed a lawsuit against the City of Hialeah.

    “I was in a wheelchair for close to 5 months. Something must happen,” said that survivor, Marco Barrios, in an exclusive interview with CBS4`s Peter D`Oench. “It`s been 6 months now since this happened and something must be done about it.”

    Barrios`s attorney, John Leighton, obtained the new surveillance tape from a car dealership across the street from where the incident happened at 9:42 p.m. on October 19, 2012 at the corner of East 9thCourt and 49th Street in Hialeah.

    Leighton told D`Oench that said the surveillance tape shows what happens just after a 2012 black Jeep driven by 23-year-old Marco Barrios was broadsided by a cruiser driven by Hialeah Police Officer Raul Somarriba.

    The accident took the life of Barrios`s girlfriend, Andrea Castillo, 21, and left with Barrios with a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and head and internal injuries. Castillo was the daughter of Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo.

    The surveillance tape shows the sudden impact when the black SUV that Barrios is driving is struck. The tape shows the vehicle rolling over and hurtling into and damaging cars at the dealership.

    “You can tell the police car hit the jeep with such impact it has pushed it half a block and rolled it over so there was a lot of speed and a lot of momentum,” said Leighton.

    In his lawsuit that was filed Wednesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Leighton shows a photograph of the mangled back SUV and says Somarriba “negligently,

    Carelessly and recklessly” operated his vehicle on a road with a posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour.

    “The evidence we have so far was that the police officer was driving without lights or siren on in excess of 85 miles per hour,” Leighton told D`Oench. “He may have been going in excess of 100 miles per hour on the road. It`s unacceptable and under any circumstances you don`t put the public in danger like this. This mistake cost one woman her life and cost Marco his health.”

    “This lawsuit is going to open up the box and allow us to look inside to see what Hialeah`s been hiding so we can let everyone know what happened that night,” said Leighton. “We`re going to see what evidence the city has of the speed and this is evidence the city has refused to turn over so far. It`s been kept from the public.”

  • Leighton Law case Featured on 7 News – Man Files Lawsuit After Fatal Police-Involved Accident

    7 News – Man files lawsuit after fatal police-involved accident

     

     

    HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) — A man involved in an accident with a police cruiser that claimed the life of his girlfriend is filling a lawsuit against the City of Hialeah.

    Marco Barrios was driving his sport utility vehicle on Oct. 19 when he was hit by Hialeah Police officer Raul Somaribas, driving an unmarked vehicle along East 49th Street. Barrios’ girlfriend, 21-year-old Andrea Castillo, sat next to him in the passenger side. “All I remember was stopping at the stop sign and opening my eyes and I was on the road,” said Barrios. “I saw my car upside down.”

    Barrios filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Hialeah on Monday, after his attorney said the city has refused to turn over information involving the accident.

    The surveillance video released from the accident shows the SUV tumbling over parked cars in a parking lot at the Car Shack. The Jeep Compass Barrios was driving was left crushed.

    Barrios’ attorney, John Leighton, said the officer was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit the SUV. “It’s pretty clear that you have a police car that’s traveling at a very, very high rate of speed … massive impact,” said Leighton.

    Castillo was severely injured. She died days later from her injuries. Barrios suffered several fractures.

    Six months ago, as Barrios laid in a hospital bed and family took Castillo off life support, Hialeah Police said in a press conference, “It is apparent in this investigation thus far, that the driver, Marco Barrios, violated the stop sign and proceeded through the intersection, placing himself in the path of the on-coming police car,” said Hialeah Police Department spokesperson Carl Zogby.

    Since the police conference, Leighton has asked Hialeah Police for public records of witness accounts and more surveillance video but has not heard back from the police department. “What is the City of Hialeah hiding? Why is it that, for six months, despite reasonable request and public records request, that City of Hialeah has refused to turn over information,” said Leighton. “They’ve refused to allow inspection in the vehicles. They haven’t turned over the data from the black box.”

    Leighton wants more information regarding the accident the night it killed Castillo. “The city not only hasn’t shown any remorse, but on the day that Marco Barrios was in intensive care and Andy Castillo was being taken off of life support, they held a press conference where they said they weren’t turning anything over because the investigation was going on,” Leighton said. “But yet they blamed Marco for violating the right of way, for not using a seat belt, and they said, speed had nothing to do with this crash.”

    Leighton said Barrios was wearing his seat belt and stopped at the stop sign before the officer hit the SUV. Leighton has requested information from the City of Hialeah for the past six months since the accident occurred.

    Barrios said the information could be critical in proving he obeyed the law the night his life was turned into a nightmare. “Why the cover up? Why has it been six months, and we still don’t know what happened?” he said.

    Barrios was never cited in this case.

    7News tried to contact Hialeah Police, but they have refused to comment on the case.

     

     

     

  • John Leighton Speaks at Attorney at Law Networking Event

    John Leighton Speaks at Attorney At Law Networking Event

    Featured on the cover of the most recent Attorney At Law Magazine, John Leighton was invited to speak to a group of Miami-based lawyers and legal professionals at a networking event hosted by the publication.  The event took place at Machiya, a new Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Midtown, on the evening of April 24.

    Attorney At Law Magazine is a comprehensive resource for the legal community in South Florida, providing a credible, established and well-respected forum for all members of the industry in Miami to share their insight and expertise. Its readers are people who play a role in all aspects of the decision making for this specific industry`s products and services. Compelling editorial content includes spotlights on local attorneys, legal professionals, law firms, expert witnesses, and local business leaders with additional feature articles and columns capturing the latest industry trends.

     

    Picture 1

    Picture 2

     

    photo

     Attorneys John Leighton, Jay Levy and Eric Halsey with Attorney At Law Magazine publisher Rhenne Leon.

    Picture 3

     

  • John Leighton Shares Insights and Advice on the Entrepreneur Podcast Network

    John Leighton Shares Insights and Advice on the Entrepreneur Podcast Network

    John was recently interviewed on the Entrepreneur Podcast Network about his practice and his expertise as a trial lawyer specializing in personal injury cases. John spoke about how he chose his specialty, what the biggest misconceptions surrounding attorneys are, and how he differentiates himself from the competition.

    He explained that the biggest lesson he has learned thus far has been to listen to your client. Many times lawyers find it difficult to listen without interjecting with their own advice and thoughts right away. But John stressed the importance of listening to clients before forming an opinion in order to understand their goals before starting the case. He also stated that he doesn`t take every case that comes his way because he is selective about the process. He advises other attorneys to really look at each case individually and think about whether or not a jury will understand it, because only then will one be able to get the best outcome on the case.

    John also shared some closing tips on how other entrepreneurs can achieve success. His first piece of advice was to create a niche around one`s business. Being a lawyer based in Miami, it was critical to his business to create a specialty since there are hundreds of trial attorneys in the city. He also points out that differentiating oneself is essential to success because it`s necessary to stand out from the pack to reach one`s full potential. In addition to creating a niche and specializing in a certain field, John recommended participating in speaking opportunities to create exposure around one`s business and securing recognition as a respected entrepreneur.

    To listen to the entire interview click the link below.

    http://epodcastnetwork.com/miamis-leighton-law-p-a-specializing-in-personal-injury-cases/

  • Negligence During Festival Season

    iStock_000000031779Small

    Miami`s festival season is in full swing and while these events are a fun way to spend the weekend, as a personal injury and negligent security attorney, John Leighton is reminded of the potential dangers these festivals can bring, particularly in the production stages. Festivals such as the Miami International Boat Show, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Ultra Music Festival all take place outdoors and often require construction to take place in a very short amount of time. This can mean that assembly is rushed and done without following all regulations, which can cause people to get severely injured. Festivals draw massive crowds, which adds to the potential for injury. If planning and organization are not done properly, problems can arise very quickly due to overcrowding, alcohol, weather conditions, and negligence in security and preparation.

    This past weekend Ultra Music Festival took place in Miami, and before the festival began there was an accident during the construction of one of the six stages when an LED screen came crashing down on four stagehands, sending three to the hospital. While the details behind the accident are still under investigation, should the injured workers choose to sue, they may be entitled to monetary compensation filing a claim under negligence, whether of another worker or the festival itself.

    There are a number of factors that can make these festivals risky. Two years ago at a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair a stage collapsed on the crowd, killing five people. The stage same down after severe weather hit the area and while concertgoers were warned of the impending storm, they were also told that the show would go on. After months of investigation, prosecutors faulted the fair for a lack of clear safety protocols and confusion over who was in charge. Reports also said the stage design was grossly inadequate and the band`s manager is also under investigation for negligence after demanding that the concert go on despite severe weather conditions.

    This brings to mind the issue of wrongful death. Over the years, John Leighton has fought for many families of those who have been killed through negligence. When there is carelessness and an inattention to detail involved in the production of stages, tents, scaffolds, screens, and heavy equipment at festivals and fairs, it can result in serious injuries and fatalities.

    While an extremely meticulous inspection of the grounds needs to take place before festivals begin, a contingency plan also needs to be implemented by the organizers to plan ahead for any complications that may arise, to avoid dangerous situations, injury and possibly death. 

  • Save the Date: Negligent Security Seminar this Summer in New Jersey

    John Leighton has been invited to be the featured speaker at a Negligent Security Seminar on June 1st by the New Jersey Bar Association in New Brunswick. He will be giving a special presentation on premises security, based on his book, Litigating Premises Security Cases.  He will also be participating in a panel of distinguished attorneys and security experts, will be offering insight into handling the matters of negligent security litigation and issues.

    The field of negligent premises security includes recovery for injuries caused by criminal assaults, rapes, sexual assaults, robberies, and attacks due to inadequate premises security, inadequate lighting, improper premises or building design, and other inadequate conditions in commercial and residential premises. These frequently occur at hotels and motels, malls, shopping centers, apartment complexes, schools, stories, amusement parks, parking garages, gas stations/ mini marts, resorts, airports, churches and office buildings.

    The concept of negligent security stems from premises liability, which simply states that a landowner or business owner has the duty to keep their premises safe and secure for tenants. This can range anywhere from keeping the floors of your business dry to prevent slip and falls to installing an alarm and surveillance system if you believe your property is susceptible to crime. It is important for business owners and landowners to understand and implement these statutes to avoid potentially dangerous situations for their customers or employees.

    Not only does this seminar promise to be informative for fellow attorneys, but it will also be beneficial for property owners. They will be able to hear from security experts on the issue of security assessments and how to best protect employees and clients from known dangerous situations or unsafe conditions. This will be followed by legal commentary by practitioners on how to handle, litigate, and try negligent security cases.

    Having litigated and tried negligent security cases for more than 27 years and have given numerous lectures on how to try these cases, this will be an exciting opportunity to again speak to New Jersey lawyers.

     

  • ExpertBeacon Article: Take action to avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice

    ExpertBeacon Logo

  • Attorney at Law Magazine: Talk of the Town

    13.2.5-Attorney at Law Magazine_Page_1 13.2.5-Attorney at Law Magazine_Page_2

  • South Florida Legal Guide: Choose Carefully When Making a Referral

    photo 1 SFLG

  • CityBizList: John E. Leighton Selected as Top 100 Miami Florida Super Lawyers 2012

    CityBizList

    John E. Leighton Selected as Top 100 Miami Florida Super Lawyers 2012

    December 20, 2012

    Share This:

    John E. Leighton, a nationally-recognized trial lawyer, was recently named Top 100 Miami Florida Super Lawyers where he joins the best of the best attorneys in the city.  Those who made the list are the lawyers who received the highest point totals in the Florida nomination, research and blue ribbon review process.

    Mr. Leighton is a Florida Bar board certified civil trial lawyer with 28 years of experience in litigating and trying complex and catastrophic cases in all state and federal courts, particularly personal injury and wrongful death; medical malpractice; violent crime/negligent premises security; trucking and motor vehicle crash; nursing home neglect; product liability; aviation disaster; cruise ship and maritime; commercial litigation; legal malpractice and other civil cases. His law firm represents individuals who have been seriously injured or have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others.

    Mr. Leighton is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases, a two-volume book published by Thomson-West. It is a comprehensive text on investigating, preparing, litigating and trying inadequate security cases and representing crime victims. He is a frequent lecturer at national legal programs including Florida Bar CLE courses, and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states. Mr. Leighton has been elected Chairman of The Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only association of some of the nation`s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers.

    Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

  • John Leighton Featured on Miami Today (November 27th, 2012)

    Article from Miami Today

  • Barrios Wants Answers (Video)

  • Man Wants Answers in Crash with Police

    Online Article Here

    MIAMI (WSVN) — A South Florida man is demanding answers from police after his girlfriend was killed in a police involved accident.

    Marco Barrios will never forget the night of Oct. 19. “We were getting ready to go out and celebrate her birthday,” said Marco Barrios

    For Barrios, the night started with the anticipation of a birthday celebration for his girlfriend, 21-year-old Andrea Castillo.

    Her birthday would end in heartbreak. “I was in and out of consciousness. Everything is pretty much a blur,” said Barrios.

    Barrios’ black Jeep Compass collided with an unmarked vehicle driven by Hialeah Police Officer Raul Somarriba. The officer was on-duty at the time of the crash.

    Moments after the impact, Barrios blacked out. He said doesn’t remember much about the crash. When he woke up he asked first responders about his girlfriend. “I remember waking up and asking if my girlfriend was OK,” said Barrios.

    Castillo was severally injured. She died days later from her injuries.

    Barrios said, “I remember just holding her hand and told her a bunch of things, just me and her in privacy,” he said. “I had asked everyone to leave the room and I will just keep that between me and her.”

    Castillo was the daughter of new Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo.

    Her swearing in ceremony was very emotional . “Mrs. Castillo’s daughter Andrea, an aspiring educator who passed away this year at the age of 21, is her inspiration in her for her new role as school board member,” said a board member.

    In the weeks after the crash, both families want answers from Hialeah Police.

    Police contend Barrios failed to stop at the intersection. Barrios said that’s not what happen, and he wants the courts to step in. “To allow us to have an inspection of the vehicles, to get the black box downloads. Get other data that the city has refused to turn over to the victims,” said Attorney John Leighton

    As Barrios continues to recover from his injuries, he wants to find justice not only for himself but for Andrea. “Justice. This can’t happen to anybody. One thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” he said.

  • Man Injured in Accident with Hialeah Police Wants Answers

    Online Article Here

    The attorney for a man seriously injured in a car crash with a Hialeah Police officer is asking the agency to release more information about the incident.

    “We filed something this week, an unusual remedy that we’re seeking from the City of Hialeah and some other people, to try and get a court order to allow us to have an inspection of the vehicles, to get the black box downloads from the two vehicles in question, get other data that the city has refused to turn over to the victims, to try and get some of the surveillance video, and also to try and preserve the blood samples that may have been taken from the police officer,” said Attorney John Leighton.

    Leighton is representing Marco Barrios, who said he fractured his pelvis in the Oct. accident. His girlfriend Andrea Castillo was killed.

    Barrios and Castillo were heading north on 9th Court in an SUV when they collided with an unmarked police car being driven by on-duty Hialeah Police officer Raul Somarriba who was traveling east on E. 49th Street Friday night, according to police.

    Somarriba is still recovering.

    But Leighton and Barrios want information from police that they say they haven’t been provided with.

    “It tells us that they have a reason to hide, that they’re hiding something, they’re trying to protect their own,” Leighton said.

    Barrios said he and his girlfriend were going to celebrate her 21st birthday and were leaving a gas station when the accident occurred. He said not only is Hialeah Police handling the case slowly, they are trying to cover up too.

    “It seems like they’re not telling the truth, that they’re hiding evidence,” he said.

    The officer in the accident was airlifted to the hospital while Castillo was taken by ambulance.

    “How do they explain taking the police officer by helicopter to Ryder Trauma Center while Andrea and Marco laid on the side of the road after they had been run over by the police officer?” Leighton asked.

    But while Hialeah Fire Capt. Cesar Espinosa previously told NBC 6 South Florida that every patient on the scene was treated appropriately, Leighton continues to disagree.

    “Well police have occupied a special public trust,” he said. “We give them the right to use a gun, carry a badge, they have a right to do things to protect people. But that right can be abused and nobody, no police department, is above the law.”

    Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby has told NBC 6 that speed was not a factor in the accident, but that Barrios and his girlfriend failed to stop at a stop sign.

    But in a wheelchair, maybe for another three months, Barrios told NBC 6 South Florida that police are wrong.

    “I remember pulling out of the gas station, stopping, I remember clearly stopping at the stop sign, and then next thing I know I just remember waking up outside of the vehicle and my car is turned upside down. And I never saw Andy, my girlfriend, again until the hospital a couple days later,” he said.

    Leighton and Barrios said experts calculated that the officer was traveling between 75 and 100 mph on a road when the two vehicles collided.

    “They said that speed wasn’t a factor, but I think anybody with common sense can tell you that a vehicle doesn’t flip three times going slow. Speed obviously was a factor,” Barrios said.

    He still experiences a constant throbbing pain.

    “To deal with it mentally is just exhausting because all I can think about is my girlfriend because that’s all I really care about,” he said.

    In addition to the complaint, Leighton would also like the case to be turned over to another agency, a request he says Hialeah Police have previously turned down.

    “People make mistakes, own up to the mistake,” he said. “City of Hialeah, if you made a mistake, if your employee made a mistake, own up to it. Provide these victims, these families with what they need and admit that you made a mistake.”

  • A mother`s anguish after Hialeah crash cries out for justice

    Online Article Here

    To hear the mother`s anguish shatters the heart.

    Andrea Nicole Castillo had just celebrated her 21st birthday when her life ended in a Hialeah police-involved car crash last month. Now Andrea`s mother, newly elected Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo, is calling for an independent investigation.

    “As a mother and as a citizen I`m demanding an independent investigation from an independent agency,” Castillo, who grew up in Hialeah, told reporters last week. “What happened to her should not be unanswered. This should be independent, this should be transparent.”

    Absolutely, yet Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, a former police officer, remains stubbornly unfazed. He feels insulted that anyone might question the city`s integrity in handling this investigation.

    It`s maddening that the mayor doesn`t see a conflict, doesn`t see the need to bring peace to a mother`s heart.

    The Hialeah police report blames Andrea`s boyfriend, Marco Barrios, for running a stop sign Oct. 19 before 10 p.m. when his Jeep Compass was heading north on East Ninth Court. It crossed paths on the dry road with on-duty Hialeah detective Raul Somarriba, who was heading east in an unmarked car on 49th Street in Hialeah. The impact flipped the SUV, and Somarriba`s car jumped the median. The officer was airlifted to the trauma center, but the couple was taken by ambulance.

    Why the disparity? Hialeah officials say it was based solely on the gravity of the injuries, yet Andrea has died. Somarriba and Barrios are hanging on.

    Castillo prayed for a miracle but it was not meant to be. Her daughter was brain dead, and disconnected from life support a couple days after the crash, after her organs were donated. In the end, her death will help others survive but that is little consolation.

    Now Castillo`s mission is to get to the truth, to find the peace that escapes any parent faced with the unexpected and violent death of a child.

    Why doesn`t the Hialeah mayor understand this? Why resist having an outside agency investigate the crash so as not to leave any questions unanswered?

    If there`s nothing to hide then why not have Miami-Dade Police investigate, as Barrios` attorney, John Leighton, asked in a letter sent to the mayor and Police Chief Sergio Velazquez on Oct. 23?

    Leighton says Hialeah police have “intimidated” the owners of gas stations and other businesses with surveillance cameras near the intersection of the crash from releasing the video to the public. Barrios` lawyer insists the 23-year-old did make a stop, and that skid marks at the crash site and witnesses point to the officer speeding.

    Obviously, when lawyers get involved, lawsuits are in the works, and Hialeah officials will say they are protecting city taxpayers from financial assault. But I can`t imagine anyone would want to protect taxpayers at the expense of the truth. Again, if there`s nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation?

    There are too many questions about what happened that remain in dispute. The police report says Andrea and her boyfriend were not wearing seat belts, yet Castillo says she saw bruises on her daughter`s torso that suggest she was wearing a seat belt. Leighton also made public photos of Barrios showing bruises across his shoulder. Also, Barrios` left clavicle and pelvis were fractured, potential indicators of seat belt use.

    “It really hurts,” a devastated Castillo told reporters last week. “Her whole future was ahead of her. More than anything else what she wanted was to become a teacher. My family and I have a lot of unanswered questions.

    “I grew up in Hialeah. Honestly, as someone who loves that city, I`m very hurt,” she said of the city`s stonewalling.

    I`ll never forget Susie Castillo`s smiling eyes when she spoke of her daughter this summer. Castillo was meeting with the Herald`s editorial board, seeking the board`s recommendation in the August election. She got it, based on her knowledge of public education issues (she worked for the district for 11 years before becoming assistant to the mayor of Doral) and based, too, on her passion as a mother of two who attended public schools. (Her son, Andrea`s younger brother, is a senior at Ronald Reagan High School.)

    “My mother taught in Hialeah, and now my daughter is going to be studying education,” a proud Castillo said then.

    Andrea Nicole Castillo was a student at Miami Dade College, helping teach at Doral Academy and about to enter Florida International University. On a recent Friday night, whether because of human negligence or by God`s hand, her life was extinguished. Her mother, brother, family and friends cry out for answers. Only an independent investigation will extinguish the anguish, bring a modicum of peace to a devastated family.

     

    To hear the mother`s anguish shatters the heart.

    Andrea Nicole Castillo had just celebrated her 21st birthday when her life ended in a Hialeah police-involved car crash last month. Now Andrea`s mother, newly elected Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo, is calling for an independent investigation.

    “As a mother and as a citizen I`m demanding an independent investigation from an independent agency,” Castillo, who grew up in Hialeah, told reporters last week. “What happened to her should not be unanswered. This should be independent, this should be transparent.”

    Absolutely, yet Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, a former police officer, remains stubbornly unfazed. He feels insulted that anyone might question the city`s integrity in handling this investigation.

    It`s maddening that the mayor doesn`t see a conflict, doesn`t see the need to bring peace to a mother`s heart.

    The Hialeah police report blames Andrea`s boyfriend, Marco Barrios, for running a stop sign Oct. 19 before 10 p.m. when his Jeep Compass was heading north on East Ninth Court. It crossed paths on the dry road with on-duty Hialeah detective Raul Somarriba, who was heading east in an unmarked car on 49th Street in Hialeah. The impact flipped the SUV, and Somarriba`s car jumped the median. The officer was airlifted to the trauma center, but the couple was taken by ambulance.

    Why the disparity? Hialeah officials say it was based solely on the gravity of the injuries, yet Andrea has died. Somarriba and Barrios are hanging on.

    Castillo prayed for a miracle but it was not meant to be. Her daughter was brain dead, and disconnected from life support a couple days after the crash, after her organs were donated. In the end, her death will help others survive but that is little consolation.

    Now Castillo`s mission is to get to the truth, to find the peace that escapes any parent faced with the unexpected and violent death of a child.

    Why doesn`t the Hialeah mayor understand this? Why resist having an outside agency investigate the crash so as not to leave any questions unanswered?

    If there`s nothing to hide then why not have Miami-Dade Police investigate, as Barrios` attorney, John Leighton, asked in a letter sent to the mayor and Police Chief Sergio Velazquez on Oct. 23?

    Leighton says Hialeah police have “intimidated” the owners of gas stations and other businesses with surveillance cameras near the intersection of the crash from releasing the video to the public. Barrios` lawyer insists the 23-year-old did make a stop, and that skid marks at the crash site and witnesses point to the officer speeding.

    Obviously, when lawyers get involved, lawsuits are in the works, and Hialeah officials will say they are protecting city taxpayers from financial assault. But I can`t imagine anyone would want to protect taxpayers at the expense of the truth. Again, if there`s nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation?

    There are too many questions about what happened that remain in dispute. The police report says Andrea and her boyfriend were not wearing seat belts, yet Castillo says she saw bruises on her daughter`s torso that suggest she was wearing a seat belt. Leighton also made public photos of Barrios showing bruises across his shoulder. Also, Barrios` left clavicle and pelvis were fractured, potential indicators of seat belt use.

    “It really hurts,” a devastated Castillo told reporters last week. “Her whole future was ahead of her. More than anything else what she wanted was to become a teacher. My family and I have a lot of unanswered questions.

    “I grew up in Hialeah. Honestly, as someone who loves that city, I`m very hurt,” she said of the city`s stonewalling.

    I`ll never forget Susie Castillo`s smiling eyes when she spoke of her daughter this summer. Castillo was meeting with the Herald`s editorial board, seeking the board`s recommendation in the August election. She got it, based on her knowledge of public education issues (she worked for the district for 11 years before becoming assistant to the mayor of Doral) and based, too, on her passion as a mother of two who attended public schools. (Her son, Andrea`s younger brother, is a senior at Ronald Reagan High School.)

    “My mother taught in Hialeah, and now my daughter is going to be studying education,” a proud Castillo said then.

    Andrea Nicole Castillo was a student at Miami Dade College, helping teach at Doral Academy and about to enter Florida International University. On a recent Friday night, whether because of human negligence or by God`s hand, her life was extinguished. Her mother, brother, family and friends cry out for answers. Only an independent investigation will extinguish the anguish, bring a modicum of peace to a devastated family.


    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/03/3080850/a-mothers-anguish-after-hialeah.html#storylink=cpy

     

  • Newly elected school board member Susie Castillo lashes out at Hialeah cops over daughter`s death

    Online Article Here

    Susie Castillo hoped for a miracle, but none would come.

    It was time to unplug the machines keeping her daughter artificially breathing. Just days after Andrea Castillo had celebrated her 21st birthday, she was brain dead killed in a car crash involving a Hialeah police detective.

    "As a Christian, you hope for a miracle from God, and, truthfully, I was waiting to the last minute," Castillo said.

    On Wednesday, a red-eyed Castillo, a newly-elected school board member, pleaded at a news conference for the Hialeah Police Department to hand over its investigation of the crash that claimed her daughter`s life and lashed out at the department`s handling of the case.

    "There have been numerous emails and letters asking for information, and there has been nothing from the Hialeah Police Department," she said. "That`s why, as a mother and as a citizen, I am demanding an independent investigation from an independent agency.

    What happened to her shouldn`t be unanswered. I need to know."

    Andrea Castillo died of her injuries after a late-night crash on Oct. 19, when the black Jeep Compass her boyfriend, Marco Barrios, was driving crossed paths with the unmarked police car of Hialeah police Detective Raul Somarriba.

    "She had just been accepted to FIU to start her bachelor`s degree in elementary education. More than anything else, what she wanted was to become a teacher," said Castillo, formerly assistant to Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez. "Her whole future was ahead of her."

    Hialeah police have blamed the cause of the deadly crash on 23-year-old Barrios, saying he ran a stop sign. Department spokesman Carl Zogby said the couple wasn`t wearing seatbelts and that the detective wasn`t speeding when his unmarked police car slammed into them.

    Lawyers for the couple`s families and now, Andrea Castillo`s mother have disputed those claims.

    Attorney John Leighton, who is representing Barrios, said that police have "intimidated" business owners with shops near the crash site into not sharing surveillance video from before the crash tapes which Leighton says will show Barrios came to a stop like he was supposed to.

    Susie Castillo said she saw bruises on her daughter`s body that suggest she was wearing a seatbelt. Leighton has released photos showing bruises across his client`s shoulder and pointed out that his left clavicle is fractured. He also suffered a pelvis fracture, head injuries and internal bleeding. Barrios is recovering at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial.

    And lawyers for both families say skid marks and witnesses at the scene suggest Somarriba, who fractured his leg and arm and suffered head injuries in the crash, was speeding.

    Hialeah police officials didn`t return calls for comment.

    Susie Castillo said her younger son has had a hard time dealing with the death of his big sister. Castillo said her focus remains on her family at the moment. But she plans on taking her spot on the school board in November representing District 5, which encompasses areas of Northwest Miami-Dade such as Hialeah.

    "My daughter was such a big part of my campaign, and she gave so much of her time and her love for this. Like I said, she was going to be a teacher. So I think that`s something I have to go forward with, for her," she said.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/31/3076463/newly-elected-school-board-member.html#storylink=cpy
  • Castillo Calls For Independent Investigation Into Deadly Cop Car Crash

    Online Article Here

    CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – The mother of a 21-year-old aspiring teacher who was killed two Friday nights ago in a police-involved crash is calling for Hialeah Police to turn over its investigation to an independent agency.

    “I need to know why this happened,” said Susie Castillo, whose 21-year-old daughter Andrea was killed in the accident on October 19th along E 49th Street and 9th Court. Andrea`s boyfriend, 23-year-old Marco Barrios, was also seriously injured when police say his black SUV collided with officer Raul Somarriba`s unmarked police car, while he was on duty.

    “I need an investigation. I need transparency. Hialeah is not doing that for us,” said Castillo, speaking out for the first time since the accident.

    She told CBS4 Peter D`Oench, “I am demanding an investigation from an independent agency.”

    “My family and I are completely devastated with what happened to my daughter,” she said. “She just turned 21 the day before the accident. She had her whole future ahead of her. She was just accepted by F.I.U. What she wanted was to become a teacher. She was just starting everything.”

    “I grew up in Hialeah and I have a lot of unanswered questions,” Castillo said. “It really hurts the way I was treated. I was never contacted by the police department right after the accident. It`s disrespectful to me and disrespectful to any citizen. You don`t treat people that way. It`s like my family doesn`t exist anymore.”

    Castillo told CBS4 that she wants to know why the officer was the only one airlifted when reports said the chopper had enough room and two paramedics on board to help two patients.

    “From what I understand she was the only one unconscious there,” she said. “The fact that she was unconscious, it seemed logical that you should take that person on board the chopper. There is no reason she shouldn`t have been on that chopper.”

    “It seems to me like the only one important was the cop because he was the only one airlifted and the only one they paid attention to,” Castillo said.

    At a news conference on October 23rd, Fire Rescue officials said Somarriba appeared to be in the worst shape of all three people in the accident and that was why he was airlifted.

    “Air rescue transported the police officer because he met the highest degree of severity of injuries at the time they were triaged,” said Hialeah Fire Department Captain Cesar Espinosa on October 23rd. He added that all three patients made it to the hospital within 30 minutes.

    At the time, it was not publicly know that there was room on the helicopter for two patients.

    “Why was the officer the only one taken by Air Rescue?” asked the Barrios family attorney, John Leighton. “You can`t tell me air rescue is not faster. If it`s not, why use it.”

    Castillo wants to know what speed Somarriba was going. The attorney for Barrios, John Leighton, told CBS4 that based on the evidence including the 40 yards of skid marks and testimony from eyewitnesses, the officer was driving anywhere between 70 and 100 miles per hour.

    The speed limit along E 49th Street is 40 miles per hour.

    And on Wednesday, the attorney for Castillo, Jorge Castillo, told CBS4, “I can tell you he was absolutely flying.”

    “This is a stop-sign accident. Nothing more, nothing less,” said police spokesman Det. Carl Zogby on October 23rd, adding that the initial findings of the police investigation found that speed was not a factor.

    Reports also indicate the officer was given no blood alcohol tests. Andrea Castillo and Marco Barrios were tested because, according to a police report, police suspected that alcohol might have been involved.

    Castillo said, “If they are going to test anyone, test all of them. But from everything I know, after conversations with her friends, she didn`t drink and they did have their seatbelts on.”

    Barrios`s sister Hazel Gorrin also said that her brother is disputing a police claim that he ran the stop sign at the intersection.

    “We did ask him about this and he says he does remember stopping,” said Gorrin. As her family released new photographs of Barrios in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital and with Andrea Castillo before the accident, she said “he`s not doing so well after an operation on his pelvis.”

    Barrios has internal and head injuries and suffered a fractured pelvis and shoulder bone.

    “It`s probably going to be months before he can learn to walk again.” she said. “Emotionally he`s a mess. He`s devastated. Everyone wants justice and to know what is going on. We want answers. We want to know what speed the officer was going.

    “We know for a fact that Marco and Andi were wearing their seat belts,” said Leighton.

    Leighton also said, “There`s been no response from Hialeah Police to my request that the Miami-Dade traffic homicide unit take over the investigation. I have also learned that business owners in the area have been told by police not to turn over any of their surveillance tape. There has been intimidation of witnesses.”

    “We believe that Hialeah Police can not investigate this case impartially,” said Leighton. “We will ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to become involved with this case if Miami-Dade Police do not get involved.”

    Castillo, who is a recently-elected member of the Miami-Dade School Board, will be sworn in during November.

    “My daughter was such a big part of my campaign,” she said. “She gave her time and her love. I think I have a responsibility to go forward in her honor.”

    Both of the attorneys for the Barrios family and Susie Castillo are considering lawsuits in this case.

    CBS4 reached out to Detecctive Zogby for comment. But he said until the investigation was finished, he could not comment any further.

    Hialeah Police have confirmed that there is surveillance video of the wreck and said it would be released after the investigation is wrapped up.

  • Family still questions fatal police-involved crash

    Online Article Here

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) — A family continues to fight for answers in the wake of a tragic police-involved crash that took the life of the daughter of a Miami-Dade school board member.

    Wednesday morning, her loved ones spoke at a news conference. They want to know what led to the killer crash, but, they say, police have remained tight-lipped. “This has been very difficult,” said Miami-Dade School Board Member Susie Castillo. “My family and I are completely devastated about what has happened to my daughter. My daughter had just turned 21 the day before the accident.”

    Family and friends said Andrea was celebrating her birthday on the night of Oct. 19 when the black Jeep Compass, driven by her 23-year-old boyfriend, Marco Barrios, and an unmarked vehicle driven by Hialeah Police officer Raul Somarriba collided. According to police, Somarriba was on-duty at the time of the crash. “Everybody want’ justice, right?” said Barrios’ sister, Hazel Gorrin. “We want to know what’s going on.”

    The accident occurred on East Ninth Court and 49th Street in Hialeah. “My family and I have lots of questions,” said Castillo. “I grew up in Hialeah. I’m a citizen of Hialeah, and honestly, as someone who loved that city, it really hurts. I’m very angry.”

    Castillo said she has many questions for the Hialeah Police Department. “I was never contacted by the police department on the night of the accident,” she said. “I found out because friends of her told me.”

    The newly elected school board member said she has received little information from the police ever since the accident. “We’ve gotten nothing from the City of Hialeah Police Department,” she said.

    However, a Hialeah Police spokesperson said the investigation remains open and on-going, and they cannot discuss the matter until they close that investigation. An initial investigation, according to police, indicates that Barrios ran a stop sign.

    Marco and Andrea’s families are both represented by attorneys. They have countered the police department’s claims that Marco was at fault and that the couple was not wearing seat belts. “Marco had identifying marks to the shoulder,” said attorney John Leighton, “exactly where the shoulder belt would be going over the shoulder. The belt would come across the collar bone.”

    But, Castillo said, she would like more information beyond who may be at fault. Both families are very upset that the officer was airlifted to the hospital and her daughter was transported via ground. She later died at the hospital. She was the only fatality in the accident. The mother said, “Because of this, as a mother and as a citizen, I am demanding an independent investigation from an independent agency.”

  • Hialeah police comment on officer-involved crash

    Online Article here

    HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) — The Hialeah Police Department’s investigation continues after a young woman involved in a police-involved car crash was declared brain dead.

    On Tuesday, Hialeah Police said that the officer who was involved in a deadly crash did not cause the accident.

    Officials said they have surveillance video that shows the driver of the sport utility vehicle involved in the deadly crash with an unmarked police cruiser did not have the right of way, adding that the passengers were not wearing their seat belts. “It is apparent in this investigation thus far, that the driver, Marco Barrios, violated the stop sign and proceeded through the intersection, placing himself in the path of the on-coming police car,” said Hialeah Police Department spokesperson Carl Zogby.

    Twenty-one-year-old Andrea Castillo was declared brain dead on Sunday following the Friday night crash. Andrea remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital on life support while her organs are being donated. “I just need people’s prayers for her,” said mother Susie Castillo. “For God to keep her, and to take care of her.”

    Family and friends said Andrea had just turned 21 on Thursday, and she was celebrating her birthday Friday night, when the black Jeep Compass, driven by her 23-year-old boyfriend, Marco Barrios, and an unmarked police vehicle driven by on-duty officer Raul Somarriba collided.

    The Hialeah Fire Department said everyone on the scene received appropriate care, and that there was no preferential treatment. They said the victims arrived at the appropriate hospitals from 30 minutes from the crash. “Air rescue is a resource available to our fire department to transport patients who have traumatic injuries,” said Hialeah Fire Department Captain Cesar Espinosa. “Its use provides neither greater nor lesser quality of care for those patients.”

    Castillo’s family attorney Jorge Silva, doesn’t agree with the fire department. “And the fact that this chopper was on scene and airlifted someone that was alert and oriented, and able to communicate, but did not airlift a young girl who was hanging on to dear life, perhaps its because they didn’t know that her mother was an elected official,” said Silva.

    Somarriba was airlifted to JMH with a fractured arm, leg and head injuries. He is expected to survive.

    Andrea and Barrios were transported to JMH by ambulance.

    Barrios remains in the intensive care unit. His family has hired an attorney. “I’m disgusted about the fact that they went ahead and held a press conference, and are trying to blame the victim here,” said Barrios’ attorney John Leighton.

    Leighton said his own investigation reveals that the collision happened as the officer was driving with his headlights off and speeding around 100 miles per hour.

    He said part of the proof is that the officer was excessively speeding. “The crash damage is consistent with the vehicle crash in excess of 80 miles per hour,” said Leighton.

    Andrea’s mother was recently elected to the Miami-Dade School Board. Both mother and daughter worked for the City of Doral.

    Mayor JC Bermudez released a statement to the family: “I would like to express my deepest sorrow for Andrea Castillo’s passing. Andrea, who grew up in Doral, graduated from one of our schools and worked for the city’s park department, was an example of a young woman committed to her family and her community.”

    At this time, officials have no evidence to show that anyone involved in the collision was speeding.

    The Castillo family said it has its own experts who will handle their own investigation.

     

  • Questions Raised In Deadly Crash Involving Hialeah Cop

    Online Article Here

    MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time we are hearing from the sister of a 23-year-old man who was nearly killed when an unmarked police car struck his SUV and took the life of a daughter of a newly-elected Miami-Dade School Board member.

    “They had their whole life ahead of them. It`s terrible what`s happening. I miss her so much,” said Hazel Gorrin, the sister of Marco Barrios, who is in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital with head and internal injuries and a broken pelvis and shoulder bone after the accident.

    “We loved her so much and my mother loved her so much. It is hard for both of us. And my brother is a smart sweet kid,” Gorrin told CBS4`s Peter D`Oench.

    “My brother and her had been going out for the past two years and he had just been promoted to manager of his restaurant,” Gorrin said. “They were making plans together. It`s horrible. It`s horrible what happened to her. Andi deserved better than that. Andi didn`t deserve to die. My brother loved her so much. She`s in all our hearts and our family. She was like another daughter to my parents and a sister to us. She`s the love of my brother.”

    “I do want to see some answers,” she said. “I hope this investigation will see what happened. Emotionally, I am in deep pain. He is my brother. He is a hard working kid and dedicated. It breaks all of our hearts. My brother was loved by so many people.”

    Questions have also been raised concerning the Hialeah Police Departments initial findings in their investigation of the deadly crash.

    Andrea Castillo, the daughter of board member Susie Castillo, died Sunday after the accident along E 49th Street and 9th Court Friday night.

    Castillo, 21, and Barrios were in a black Jeep Compass when officer Raul Somarriga, who was driving an unmarked cruiser, slammed into them.

    Somarriba was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, while Castillo and Barrios were not. They were transported via ambulance.

    “Air rescue transported the police officer because he met the highest degree of severity of injuries at the time they were triaged,” said Hialeah Fire Department Captain Cesar Espinosa who added that all three made it to the hospital within 30 minutes.

    But John Elliott Leighton, the attorney for the Barrios family, questioned that. “Why was the officer the only one taken by Air Rescue?” Leighton asked. “You can`t tell me air rescue is not faster. If it`s not, why use it.”

    Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told CBS4`s Kara Kostanitch that air rescue was equipped with enough personnel to take more than one person on board Friday night. There were two paramedics in the chopper which they say can handle more than one patient.

    Tuesday Hialeah police said Barrios ran the stop sign at the intersection and ended up in the path of Somarriba`s cruiser.

    “This is a stop-sign accident. Nothing more, nothing less,” said police spokesman Det. Carl Zogby who added that the initial findings of their investigation found that speed was not a factor.

    An attorney for the Barrios family said the length of the skid marks and witnesses prove otherwise.

    “We know for a fact that the police officer was driving 70 to 100 miles per hour and driving without his lights on,” said attorney John Elliott. “The physical damage and the evidence and the high impact of this crash clearly demonstrates something above 70 miles per hour. There were witnesses on the scene who saw the entire event taking place.”

    The posted speed limit at the crash site is 40 miles per hour.

    Elliott told D`Oench that he had the name of at least one witness but that witness was afraid to come forward and speak.

    On Tuesday, Hialeah police said Barrios and Castillo were not wearing their seat belts.  This is another statement Leighton has a problem with because he has a photo which clearly shows seat belt marks on Barrios left shoulder. “It shows seat belt marks from a very violent crash.”

    Leighton has sent a letter to Hialeah`s police chief and mayor requesting that the city turn over its investigation to the Miami-Dade Police Department`s Traffic Homicide Unit.

    “This is a highly charged case,” said Leighton.  “The potential for a cover up exists.  We need this done now.”

    “The city of Hialeah has a conflict of interest in this case plus this is a suspicious incident, when you have an unmarked police car that broadsides two innocent people, killing one of them and putting the other into ICU. The Miami-Dade Police department is absolutely as independent as you can get. They are highly trained individuals.

    A traffic crash report obtained by CBS4 also reveals that police conducted blood alcohol tests of Castillo and Barrios because the use of alcohol was suspected. Those tests are pending. But officer Somarriba was not tested because the report said the use of alcohol was not suspected.

    “That test should have been conducted of the officer and that is another question we have,” said Leighton. “Why was such a test not done.”

    CBS4 was able to reach Det. Zogby on Wednesday, but he said his department would not have any more comment about this case, after speaking at the newsconference on Tuesday.

    Hialeah police confirmed there is surveillance video of the wreck and said it would be released after they have wrapped up their investigation.

    Attorneys have been trying to get a look at the surveillance video from the scene.

    Castillo worked as a Recreation Service Aide at Doral Meadow Park from May 2011 until March 2012.

    According to the city Castillo, who had a passion for working with kids, was partially responsible for the safety and supervision of the children when they took part in organized activities such tennis camps or youth summer programs.

  • Driver Injured in Hialeah Crash With Police Officer “Is Not Doing Well”: John Leighton

    Online Article Here

    The driver who was seriously injured in a Hialeah crash that killed his girlfriend Friday night is in intensive care at Ryder Trauma Center and will have surgery in the next few days, his attorney said.

    Marco Barrios "is not doing well," attorney John Leighton said Wednesday.

    "He has fractures, internal bleeding a head injury, he had loss of consciousness," Leighton said.

    Barrios and Andrea Castillo were heading north on 9th Court in an SUV when they collided with an unmarked police car being driven by an on-duty Hialeah Police officer who was traveling east on E. 49th Street Friday night, according to police.

    The officer was airlifted to the hospital while Castillo was taken by ambulance. Hialeah Fire Capt. Cesar Espinosa said Tuesday that every patient on the scene was treated appropriately, however.

    Leighton showed NBC 6 South Florida a letter sent to Hialeah Police Tuesday asking that they remove themselves from the investigation.

    "We’re asking for Miami-Dade Police’s Department’s Traffic Homicide Unit to take over this investigation because of the obvious conflict of interest that has only been made worse by the acts of the Hialeah Police Department in acting in a very unprofessional and a very political way here," he said.

    Castillo is the daughter of newly elected Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo.

    Leighton claimed the police department rushed to blame his client for the crash on Tuesday.

    “It is apparent in this investigation thus far that the driver, Marco Barrios, violated the stop sign and proceeded through the intersection," Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby said then.

    But Barrios’ attorney claims the officer was going at a high rate of speed when he sideswiped his client’s Jeep. What happened after the crash is even more of a reason for the case to be investigated by another agency, Leighton added.

    "Why would you medevac out the police officer only and leave the two civilians to fend for themselves and get an ambulance ride to the hospital?" he asked

    Castillo’s family has also posed that question, saying that she died of her injuries and the officer is expected to recover.

    The Hialeah police and fire departments declined to comment Wednesday, saying they are waiting for the outcome of the investigation.

     

  • Parasailing Industry Must Be Regulated [October 26, 2012]

    Parasailing Industry Must Be Regulated [October 26, 2012]

    On August 15, Elizabeth Miskell and her husband Stephen decided to take a ride in a side-by-side parasail during their Florida vacation. Her harness malfunctioned and she fell 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean off Pompano Beach. The parasailing boat captain found her floating face down in the water. The Broward medical examiner determined that she died from “asphyxia due to drowning and multiple blunt force injuries.“ The Florida Legislature, however, must bear the much of the blame for this tragic and needless death.

    For the past five years, a broad coalition of safety advocates and parasailing victims has urged the legislature to take action and regulate the state`s parasailing industry. Our goal is to prevent further deaths and injuries through legislation, rather than strive to compensate victims and their families via litigation. Our efforts are supported by the Professional Association of Parasail Operators (PAPO), a responsible trade organization that recognizes the need for safe, reasonable precautions to create a safe experience.

    State Senator Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) will be leading the effort to enact the “Amber May Act” in the next legislative session. Named for the deceased daughter of our client, the law would require the owners of vessels engaged in commercial parasailing to carry liability insurance, establish minimum standards for equipment, and prohibit parasailing under unsafe conditions. There would also be criminal penalties for violations of the act.

    That`s not a heavy burden for responsible parasailing operators to bear. This is particularly so in a state where the largest industry is resort tourism. There is no question that this type of regulation could save lives. An equipment inspection, for example, might have revealed the problems with Mrs. Miskell`s harness and prevented her death. Likewise in 2007 when Amber May White and her sister Crystal were parasailing off the same beach that took Mrs. Miskell`s life, such a regulation would likely have prevented the same tragedy. Passage of such minimum standards could also help the parasailing industry repair its badly tarnished image.

    Presently, no state or federal laws specifically regulate commercial parasailing activities. The only requirements for operating a parasail business in Florida are a U.S. Coast Guard approval of a vessel and possession of a boating license.

    Today, there is no state or federal agency responsible for verifying that the operator`s parasail, harness and tow lines are in good condition. Without regular inspections, an irresponsible operator can try to save money by using defective or worn-out equipment.

    In addition, there is no requirement for operators to stop offering rides during high winds, stormy seas or thunderstorms, or other adverse conditions – a step that might have saved the life of Amber May White.

    In 2007, 15-year-old Amber and her 17 year-old sister Crystal were parasailing off Pompano Beach in stormy weather. High winds pushed the parasailing boat close to the shore. The parasail`s winch stopped working and the tow line snapped. The girls slammed into a hotel roof at more than 50 miles per hour, then into the trees. Amber died and Crystal suffered severe head trauma. I represented their mother, Shannon Kraus, in the ensuing litigation. But what`s needed now is legislation, not litigation.

    Today Shannon Kraus is among the growing number of Floridians who believe it`s time for the Legislature to regulate this industry and put the rogue operators out of business. In a recent CNN interview she said, “The people are simply fed up with this situation. The parasailing industry should be held accountable. No one else should be injured or killed. It`s time to take action.” To sign an electronic petition go to www.AmberMayLaw.com

    Sometimes legislation is more important than litigation.

    John Elliott Leighton is the managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A., a personal injury trial law firm with offices in Miami and Orlando. A board certified trial lawyer, his practice is focused on the representation of severely injured victims, primarily due to the failure to maintain reasonable or adequate security at commercial premises, Resort Torts, medical malpractice and consumer product liability. He is the author of the book, “Litigating Premises Security Cases (West Publishing)” and Chairman of the Academy of Trial Advocacy.

  • Hialeah police comment on officer-involved crash [October 26th, 2012]

    HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) — The Hialeah Police Department’s investigation continues after a young woman involved in a police-involved car crash was declared brain dead.

    On Tuesday, Hialeah Police said that the officer who was involved in a deadly crash did not cause the accident.

    Officials said they have surveillance video that shows the driver of the sport utility vehicle involved in the deadly crash with an unmarked police cruiser did not have the right of way, adding that the passengers were not wearing their seat belts. “It is apparent in this investigation thus far, that the driver, Marco Barrios, violated the stop sign and proceeded through the intersection, placing himself in the path of the on-coming police car,” said Hialeah Police Department spokesperson Carl Zogby.

    Twenty-one-year-old Andrea Castillo was declared brain dead on Sunday following the Friday night crash. Andrea remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital on life support while her organs are being donated. “I just need people’s prayers for her,” said mother Susie Castillo. “For God to keep her, and to take care of her.”

    Read more: http://wsvn.com/news/local/police-involved-crash-leaves-at-least-one-officer-injured/

  • John Leighton Discusses Parasailing Safety and Lack of Regulation on CNN
  • South Florida Legal Guide: John Leighton, The Crusader

    John Leighton: The Crusader

    John Elliott Leighton wants to make the world a safer place – particularly for children, the elderly, travelers and other vulnerable people. “As a plaintiff`s attorney, I want to see that the work I`m doing is making a difference for individuals, families and our society as well,” says the managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A. in Miami.For Leighton that means changing people`s behaviors as well as state and federal laws. “We have made it socially unacceptable to drive drunk or to smoke indoors,” he says. “But we have not yet done so with distracted driving, which is the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes.” Noting that Florida is one of the few states that have refused to ban texting while behind the wheel, Leighton says, “People want 24/7 access but we have to say it is simply not acceptable for drivers to text or send emails.”During his long career as a personal injury attorney, Leighton has handled many cases with wide-reaching social implications. In fact, several cases have resulted in policy or procedure changes by businesses or governmental entities. One example is premises security.

    When Leighton began litigating these cases 26 years ago, shopping centers, hotels, offices and apartment complexes often didn`t hire security guards for fear of “scaring people away,” he says. “Since then, it has become safer to go shopping, enter an office building or go home to your apartment because of litigation results. We have seen crime levels decrease and risky places become safer locations -a lasting benefit from PI litigation.”

    The same trend has occurred in product liability cases, such as installing airbags in cars and adding other safety features. “I`d like to see the same thing continue with other areas of tort litigation,” he adds. “I`ve always had a sense of advocacy on behalf of the little guy. I think that`s in the DNA of plaintiffs` lawyers.”

    A Strong Sense of Advocacy

    Born in San Francisco, Leighton grew up in Hollywood, Florida. “My father was a lawyer,” Leighton says. “When I was about 6, he talked at the dinner table about a man who had been badly burned internally after drinking lye from a soda bottle that had not been properly cleaned and rinsed at the bottling plant. I knew even then that I wanted to help fix those kinds of problems when I grew up.”

    As a teen, Leighton became editor of his high school newspaper and wrote articles for The Miami Herald. He also led his high school debate team to a state championship. But rather than go into journalism, he focused on law, earning his bachelor`s and law degrees at the University of Florida.

    Early in his career, Leighton took up the challenge of an “unwinnable” negligent security case involving a good Samaritan who was shot in the chest after chasing down a thief who snatched a purse from a woman in the parking lot of an Aventura shopping center. “There had been a rash of assaults and robberies at that center,” Leighton says. “I had been litigating inadequate security cases for about five years, and this was the first time my client was a rescuer who was injured as a result of violent crime.” In the 1993 case, Leighton argued that if it was reasonably foreseeable for a crime like purse snatching to occur, the shopping center owner owed a duty of care for the rescuer. The jury agreed and awarded his client $1.5 million. As Leighton says, “He was a true hero, who took a bullet for someone.”

    On the other hand, other people`s negligence has been the key factor in many of Leighton`s high-profile courtroom battles. In 2007, for instance, Leighton represented the family of two teenage sisters from Ocala who were parasailing in Pompano Beach when the rope snapped in high winds, throwing them into a hotel roof. Amber May White was killed and Crystal White suffered serious head injuries. “There were warnings about thunderstorms and all other businesses on the beach had closed up,” Leighton says. “However, the parasailing operator wanted to make a little more money, with tragic results.”

    Drawing on his on-the-scene observations and extensive legal research, Leighton was successful in showing that the parasail operator was acting as an apparent agent of the beachfront hotel. The case was settled, and Leighton became a staunch advocate of stricter parasailing regulation in Florida, urging the state Legislature to pass the proposed “Amber May Law” in its last two sessions.

    “Having a personal connection with my client is important,” Leighton says. “I don`t take a case if the client`s story is not compelling. But if I do feel strongly about it, that connection provides me with an additional motivation – like flipping on the afterburners in a long-distance run.”

    Today, much of Leighton’s PI work revolves around what he calls Resort Torts, a term he trademarked that includes cruise ship, maritime, and violent crime/negligent premises security cases. “For the past three years, I have been giving legal seminars about Resort Torts, which encompass many types of resort, vacation and travel liabilities,” he says. His two-volume treatise, “Litigating Premises Security Cases” (Thomson-West, 2006), is a comprehensive text on evaluating, preparing and trying premises security cases.

    A nationally recognized authority on inadequate security litigation and other issues, Leighton is often asked to comment for the media, including NBC`s Today Show, Inside Edition, and other news programs. In his practice, Leighton also handles legal malpractice and institutional child abuse cases, and volunteers his time as guardian at litem.

    Outside his legal work, Leighton enjoys skiing, running and spending time with his daughter Taryn. Leighton also serves on the board of Temple Beth Am and is involved with other community activities.

    Professionally, Leighton is chairman of the American Association for Justice Inadequate Security Litigation Group, and chairman of The Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only association of the nation`s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers. He sits on the board of advisors of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, which honored him with its 2007 “Advocate of Justice” award.

    Looking ahead, Leighton would like to see the United States do a better job of protecting children from pedophiles, predators and other criminals. “We need to stop the institutional support of child sexual abuse through tort accountability,” he says. “Individuals may be subject to criminal prosecution, but businesses need to feel it in their pocketbooks. That`s the best way to stop criminals from infiltrating our institutions and gaining access to children. Ultimately, it may be the plaintiffs` lawyers who change the law and make a difference in our society.”

    South Florida Legal Guide Midyear 2012 Edition

    Back to Personal Injury Attorneys Back to Midyear 2012 Edition

    crusader_image004

    crusader_image006

    crusader_image008

  • Leighton Discusses Sexual Abuse Case with Orlando’s News13 [Apr. 9, 2012]

    Woman claims boy abused her son at Orlando day care

    By Margaret Kavanagh, Reporter

    Online article here.

    A mother claims her son was sexually abused at an Orlando day care center, and now she is suing the facility.

    The lawsuit was filed on April 2. It claimed an eight-year-old boy molested a six-year-old boy while under the care of the Kiddie U facility on Wallace Road.

    The alleged abuse happened in August 2010. The lawsuit claimed the mother picked her son up and thought something seemed wrong with him. He apparently told her the other boy molested him inside a make-shift fort at the daycare center at least five times.

    John Leighton is the lawyer for the mother accusing the day care center of negligence and misrepresentation.

    Le”Most parents can`t believe that it would actually occur by another child because in theory these children are being watched and supervised by their caregivers, their teachers,” Leighton said. “This is every parent`s worst nightmare.”

    But some parent who bring their children to the city said they don’t believe the allegations. Mezo Riccio said he has been bring his four-year-old son Maximo to the center since he was eight weeks old.

    “I feel safe, I definitely wouldn’t take him out of school by any meanings for any reason like that,” Riccio said.

    We tried to speak with the owner of Kiddie U. He said he will not play this out in the media and that his lawyers are handling the case. He also said he had no other comments about the case.

    “I think it`s a shame that something like this could tarnish a great facility when it`s not necessary,” Riccio said.

    According to the school’s website, there are 30 cameras that parents have access to watch their children over the Internet.

    “One of the features that my client was promoted when she put her child in day care at Kiddie U had surveillance cameras and apparently my client was told that this room had no cameras,” Leighton said.

    He said the alleged victim has been in therapy since the incident occurred. If it wasn’t for the fact that she sensed that something was wrong he probably would have kept this bottled even longer,” Leighton said.

    The Orange County Sheriff`s Deputies who responded the day after the alleged abuse was reported wrote an incident report, taking statements from the alleged victim’s mother.

    They said they handed the case over to the Department of Children and Families, who did an assessment of the situation, but no further action was taken. DCF officials said there was no sexual abuse investigation because there were two children involved. They said if it was an adult accused of those actions it would be totally different story.

  • Leighton Files Sexual Abuse Case – NBC Orlando WESH Ch2 Coverage [Apr. 9, 2012]

    Woman Says Son Was Sexually Abused At Day Care

    Kiddie U Day Care Faces Negligence Charges

    POSTED: 5:01 pm EDT April 9, 2012
    The mother of a 6-year-old boy is suing a local day care after she said he was sexually abused by another child while under the day care’s watch.

    Online article here.

    Kiddie U is facing a lawsuit for negligence stemming from an incident that happened in 2010.

    The mother said her son was abused by a 9-year-old and that Kiddie U is responsible for not stopping the abuse of a child by another child.

    According to the sheriff’s deputy report, the younger boy said they were touching each others private parts and that the 9-year-old was the aggressor.

    Deputies said they have referred the case of suspected lewd molestation to the Department of Children and Families, which makes the information confidential.

    Parents of children currently at Kiddie U said they have no concerns about their kids’ safety.

    “I am happy about the quality of care here for my son,” said Mezo Riccio. “This lawsuit, I think it is more of a payday thing to be honest with you.”

    State records show the day care has never been cited or had its license suspended.

    John Leighton, the attorney representing the mom and 6-year-old, said the day care was not safe for his client.

    “My young client has been in therapy and has been extremely traumatized,” said Leighton.

    Kiddie U continues to operate as normal while the case moves forward to trial.

  • Leighton Sheds Light on FL Supreme Court Case McCall vs. U.S. on Damages Caps, for Lawyers.com [Feb. 23, 2012]

    02-24-2012

    Florida Supreme Court to Decide on Damages Caps

    Posted February 23, 2012

    BY KEITH ECKER

    “The health care debate is heating up in Florida as the state’s highest court weighs the constitutionality of a law that places caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The case, known as McCall v. U.S., concerns 20-year-old Michelle McCall, who bled to death while giving her birth to her son.”

    John Leighton weighs in on the issues with reporter Keith Ecker, for Lawyers.com. 

    Click here for the full article

    Excerpts:

    “There was no crisis; there is no crisis,” Leighton says. “The reason insurance premiums are going up is because most physicians don’t carry insurance in the South Florida area.

    Florida’s legislators passed the caps in 2003 under the frequently used guise of tort reform, a movement often spearheaded by corporate interests to influence elected officials and voters to pass laws that restrict consumers’ access to the courts.

    “What is important for people to understand is that these laws are passed by legislators in Tallahassee that are generally controlled by the medical industry,” Leighton says.

    In fact, the Florida legislature is attempting to further bar their constituents’ access to the courts through a new statutory initiative that, among other things, would allow physicians to have patients sign waivers to give up their rights to file a medical malpractice claim in court. Instead, injured patients would have to arbitrate their cases.

    “Courts have favored arbitration because it clears the dockets,” Leighton says. “Unfortunately, arbitration inherently favors corporations, businesses and the ones who seek to have it in place.”

    “In Florida, obtaining compensation from an uninsured doctor is a very difficult process,” Leighton says. “For one thing, the state is a debtor’s haven. And even though a physician is supposed to have $250,000 worth of financial responsibility under Florida law, the doctor could declare bankruptcy.”

    “Having medical malpractice insurance is a sign of someone who takes their practice seriously and who is willing to stand behind their mistakes,” Leighton says.

    “Also, ask questions to help prevent mistakes from happening,” Leighton says. “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to your health.”

    Lawyers.com FL Supreme Court Case 0212b.pdf
    Lawyers.com FL Supreme Court Case 0212b1330097258.pdf

  • Leighton’s Resort Torts Featured in “Litigation Support Strategies” – South Florida Legal Guide [June 2011]

    06-24-2011

    John Leighton`s specialization in Resort Torts is featured in the South Florida Legal Guide, which recently held a roundtable event on the topic of “Litigation Support Strategies: Selecting the Right Professional.” In the SFLG`s publication of the event, Leighton provided insight on “Using Expert Witnesses in a Resort Litigation Case.”

    Access the publication here and scroll down to the blue box featuring John Leighton and Resort Tort Litigation.

  • Leighton wins $24,315,980 verdict for wrongful death of police officer

    03-25-2011

    John Elliott Leighton obtained a $24,315,980 verdict on behalf of the family of Officer Al Gordon for his wrongful death.  An Orange County jury rendered the verdict following testimony presided over by Hon. John Marshall Kest in Orlando.  Estate of Alfred L. Gordon v. Terry, et al., Case No. 08-CA-0002852-ORL (34), 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida, March 25, 2011.

    ERDICT – Gordon v. Terry, et al.1301089068.pdf
    WFTV link – verdict1301089104.pdf
    Officer Al Gordon.png

     

    The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm`s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted). Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case as each case is unique. By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that every case is different and each case must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.

  • John Leighton Discusses “Four Loko” Case with the Orlando Sentinel [Jan. 27, 2011]

    01-27-2011

    Miami/Orlando attorney John Elliott Leighton filed a Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial with the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in Seminole County, Florida on behalf of plaintiff Briana McCarroll.

    The Orlando Sentinel recently discussed the case and the dangers of the Four Loko beverage with Mr. Leighton.

    Read the full article here.

    Article Highlights:

    According to her attorney, McCarroll suffered numerous injuries. The most gruesome he described: As the vehicle slid along the roadway, McCarroll’s scalp was pulled back from her skull, leaving her permanently disfigured. She is suing Phusion for negligence and strict liability.

    “She’s got loss of hair that will never grow back,” attorney John Elliott Leighton said. McCarroll also is suing Joseph and the convenience store where she said Joseph purchased Four Loko.

    But why sue the beverage makers as well? Echoing complaints that have been central to the controversy, Leighton said the beverage is a dangerous mix of caffeine and alcohol, packaged for sale to young people.

    Because of the caffeine, Leighton said, drinkers “don’t feel drunk, and they have this false sense of sobriety.”

    Leighton said his client was getting ready to for her first year in college, planning to attend Florida State University, when the accident happened. Though Joseph, 20 at the time, had been drinking, Leighton said his client couldn’t tell she was intoxicated.

    “She thought that the driver was fine,” Leighton said.

    Accident Summary:

    An August crash in Seminole County has spawned two lawsuits against Phusion Projects. The Florida Highway Patrol reported at the time that Danielle Joseph was driving about 95 mph when she lost control of her 2000 Acura Integra, striking a trailer being towed by a pickup on State Road 417. Two passengers in the vehicle have claimed Joseph had been drinking Four Loko the night of the crash. The crash cost 20-year-old Janice Rivera, the first to sue, her right hand. The FHP reported at the time that another passenger, Briana McCarroll, was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center in serious condition.

    ————————————

    Additional resource:

    Four Loko – “blackout-in-a-can”

    · http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=four%20loko

  • A Remedy for Injustice: John Leighton Alumni Profile Featured in UF Law Magazine [June 2010]

    06-15-2010

    You’ve likely seen them while vacationing at the beach —boats towing massive parasails high in the sky. The people strapped-in look like they’re having the time of their lives, or so it seems. But most vacationers either don’t know the inherent dangers of beach parasailing or don’t want to think about them. It is vacation, after all — you expect to be kept safe. Unfortunately, those to whom you entrust your life may not care about you at all.

    In August 2007, sisters Amber May and Crystal White, 15 and 17 respectively, went on vacation in South Florida. Looking for fun, they decided to take advantage of the parasailing adventure offered through the Wyndham Resort they were staying at on Pompano Beach. The weather turned bad during their ride and eventually winds pushed the boat too close to shore, snapping the rope tethering the Whites’ parasail to the boat. Riding the wind, the parasail toting the two sisters crashed into a building. Crystal suffered a gash on her face and major head trauma, but Amber May’s neck was broken and she died two days later.

    The family turned to experienced trial lawyer, John Leighton (JD 85), an expert in “resort torts,” and emerging area of law that deals with vacation-related injuries caused by the negligence of others. The Amber May White case is now settled, but Leighton hasn’t finished fighting for her. No laws are on the books to regulate parasailing businesses. Leighton is spearheading legislation to regulate the industry and to crack down on rogue operators who operate without penalties. Leighton has handled a few parasailing cases, but Amber May White’s was the most tragic.

    “This is the most outrageous and unfortunately it takes terrible tragedy and outrage before we make any changes and even have a bill,” Leighton said. “Of course here we have a bill but we don’t yet have a law.”

    Last year, the bill, which would regulate the industry and install mandatory safety standards, did not pass in Florida because lobbying by the resort industry, Leighton said. State Sen. Dan Gelber is working to get the bill passed this year and Leighton is ready to speak to the Florida Legislature about the industry if given the chance..

    “Why the resort industry would be against a bill that would protect their own customers, I don’t understand, especially since the actual operators tend not to be the resorts themselves,” Leighton said. “They tend to be outsourced.”

    The legislation would make industry minimum standards into law. The Professional Association of Parasail Operators, or PAPO, has minimum standards and codes of conduct that members must to follow. PAPO is also in favor of legislation to improve industry safety.

    “You have to be a certain number of feet offshore, you have to have a spotter on the boat, you can’t go up too high, you can’t go up in certain winds — common sense things,” Leighton said. “But right now, nothing prevents anyone from going into the parasailing business. There’s nothing that says I can’t take you up in 40-knot winds.”

    Leighton is an expert on resort torts and premises security litigation, which is the area of law addressing criminal injury on private property that should have been better secured. Leighton speaks nationally(this is redundant) about both, and has written a two volume treatise on premises security litigation, Litigating Premises Security Cases (Thomson-West, 2006). Representing violent crime victims has been a passion of his, and he has chaired the Inadequate Security Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice since 1996. Leighton has known he wanted to be a trial lawyer since he joined his high school debate team and began thinking of law school.

    “I’ve always thought that there needed to be a remedy for people who were injured because of someone else’s negligence or intentional acts,” Leighton said. “Just in terms of basic equities, I’ve always thought that the civil justice system was critical to keeping a society in balance. It’s just something I’ve always liked to do.”

    crusader_image004

    crusader_image004

    crusader_image004

    crusader_image004

  • South Florida Legal Guide: “Top Lawyer John Elliott Leighton” [March 2010]

    03-01-2010

    John Elliott Leighton is featured as the Top Lawyer in the South Florida Legal Guide’s monthly e-newsletter:

    A board certified civil trial lawyer, John Elliott Leighton has 25 years of experience in representing individuals who have been seriously injured or have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others. “It is my passion to fight for the compensation my clients deserve, and to make wrong situations right,” said Leighton, a South Florida Legal Guide Top Lawyer. “Because many issues that arise in Florida have national implications, I’ve been compelled to spearhead legislative efforts to regulate certain industries so that others don’t suffer the losses my clients have.”

    Leighton is a recognized leader in the field of negligent premises security. He recently authored “Litigating Premises Security Cases,” a two-volume book published by Thomson-West that provides comprehensive information on investigating, preparing and trying inadequate security cases and representing crime victims. He also received the Advocate of Justice Award from the National Crime Victim Bar Association for his work in representing violent crime victims against corporate defendants.

    Leighton also has extensive experience in litigating resort torts, representing victims of personal injuries related to hotels, cruise ships and other travel operators. “Because Florida is a vacation destination with 82 million visitors a year, resort torts are prevalent here and are on the rise,” said Leighton. “Many people don’t know that there are often higher duties owed to tourists because of their lack of familiarity and awareness of risks that would be otherwise known to the proprietors of certain businesses.”

    As managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A., Leighton litigates and tries significant cases on behalf of individuals throughout Florida and the United States.  His practice areas include personal injury and wrongful death, medical malpractice, trucking and motor vehicle crashes, product liability, premises liability and all civil and commercial litigation. He is a frequent lecturer at national legal programs and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states. He has commented on legal issues for NBC’s The Today Show, Inside Edition, and many other news programs.  He is currently in his third year of serving as chairman of The Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only association of the nation’s leading catastrophic injury trial lawyers.

    SFLegal Guide Top Lawyer 3-10.pdf

  • Daily Business Review: “Sex, Drugs & Violence Seminar: Negligent Premises Security Litigation” [Nov. 19, 2009]

    11-19-2009

    On October 20, 2009, John Elliott Leighton presented a seminar on Negligent Premises Security Litigation in Florida at Miami’s InterContinental Hotel. Entitled “Sex, Drugs & Violence: Negligent Premises Security Litigation,” his presentation covered strategies and tactics in investigating, litigating and trying premises security cases, as well as case law, relevant statutes, codes and ordinances.  The seminar was attended by more than 130 professionals. The Seminar was moderated by Matthew Seth Sarelson, Esq., of Sarelson Law Firm, P.A., and provided three General CLE credits, with two eligible toward Criminal or Civil Trial Certification.

    Sex, Drugs & Violence Seminar – 8-Page Insert in the Daily Business Review

  • Daily Business Review: “Resort Torts” [May 5, 2009]

    05-09-2009

    Leighton Law, P.A. presented “Resort Torts” at Miami’s Hotel InterContinental on May 5, 2009 to over a hundred attorneys and members of the business community.  The topics included all aspects of resort, vacation and leisure torts, including hotel and motel liability, inadequate security/violent crime litigation, cruise ship liability, rental car risks, airline and transport issues, gaming, theme park and amusement liability, and all aspects of premises liability. Gregory Prusak of Kubicki Draper also spoke at the Seminar.

    The Resort Torts seminar included a discussion by Leighton about liability for recreational activities such as boating, diving, parasailing and jet skis.  Leighton completed a case involving parasailing liability and is currently working with legislators to enact the nation’s first parasailing safety regulations in Florida.

    Resort Torts Seminar – 8-Page Insert in the Daily Business Review

  • John Elliott Leighton Receives Advocate of Justice Award [May 2009]

    05-09-2009

    The National Crime Victim Bar Association recently presented Leighton Law managing partner John Elliott Leighton with its Advocate of Justice award for his work on behalf of victims of violent crime.  The Bar Association is comprised of lawyers and victim advocates throughout the United States who represent crime victims in civil litigation.  The award was presented by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  Mr. Leighton is a charter member of the Association and sits on its Board of Advisors. The NCVBA is headquartered in Washington, DC.

    JPEG Photo

  • The Miami Herald: South Beach Security Conference [May 4, 2009]

    05-04-2009

    "Group stresses safety in night spots: Representatives of local law enforcement agencies and the employees and owners of
    resorts, bars and nightclubs gather to talk about security"

    Civil trial attorney John Elliott Leighton promised a room full of nightclub, restaurant, hotel and bar employees and owners he would take them down should they meet again.

    Leighton, who represents victims of crime, noted: "I'm talking to you for the first time and last time in public."

    It was part of a sobering message to the group gathered at the Palms Resort in South Beach for a daylong conference on violence and security in South Florida night spots.

    "Just because you are a responsible business doesn't mean you are immune to liability," Leighton said. "If you haven't done your due diligence beforehand you haven't done your job and I own your business."

  • Inside Edition: “Parasailing Adventure Turns Tragic” [Sept. 14, 2007]

    09-14-2007

    INSIDE EDITION -National News

    Crystal and Amber May White had been vacationing together when a parasailing trip went awry. The White family and their attorney John Elliott Leighton are the focus of a feature on Inside Edition, nationally televised in September 2007.

    The feature focused on this catastrophe and the fight Leighton and his clients have taken on to regulate the parasailing industry to prevent these accidents from repeating.

    InsideEdition.com News Article
    John Leighton on Inside Edition.jpg

  • TodayShow.com: “Family of Parasailing Victim Pushes for Law” [Sept. 12, 2007]

    NBC’s The Today Show interviewed attorney John Elliott Leighton and Shannon Kraus and Amber White regarding parasailing safety. Amber White, 15, died because the industry is unregulated.  Leighton and his clients are pushing for new laws to regulate the safety of parasiling.  White died at a Florida resort because of an unregulated, negligent parasailing operation.

    NBC Today Show – parasailing tragedy on MSNBC – Mother and sister of Amber May White.

    TodayShow.com News coverage

  • Channel 10 News: “Parasailing Tragedy Results in Wrongful Death Case” [Aug. 29, 2007]

    08-29-2007

    The death of Amber May White resulted in the filing of a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit in Florida by attorney John Elliott Leighton. Extensive local, regional and national news coverage focused on this case and the fight to regulate this industry.

    Channel 10 News Article

  • CBS4: “Leighton Files New Suit in Deadly Florida Parasailing Accident” [Aug. 29, 2007]

    12-29-2009

    John Elliott Leighton files suit on behalf of Shannon Kraus, mother of Amber May White, a 15 year old child who was killed in a deadly parasiling tragedy in Pompano Beach, Florida.  Suit was filed in Broward County Circuit Court against the operators of the parasailing ride.

    CBS4 News Article

  • South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com: “Parasailing Death, injury brings lawsuits from girls’ parents” [Aug. 29, 2007]

    08-29-2007

    The parents of a 15-year old girl who died after an Aug. 18 parasailing accident in Pompano Beach filed separate negligence lawsuits in Broward Circuit Court. The girls’ father is seeking medical and funeral expenses and other damages. The girls’ mother is also seeking damages. Her lawyer, John Elliot Leighton, said she is also trying to drum up support for state legislation that would tighten restrictions on parasailing operaions.

    Sun-Sentinel News Article

  • Tallahassee.com: “Mom files lawsuit in parasailing death” [Aug. 29, 2007]

    08-29-2007

    Attorney John Elliott Leighton files a lawsuit on behalf of the the family of Amber May White, who was killed in Pompano Beach in a parasailing accident.

    PDF: Tallahassee.com News coverage

  • Daily Business Review Cover Story: “Fighting A Muzzle” [Aug. 8, 2005]

    08-08-2005

    Lawyer John Elliott Leighton is amongst those who see peer reviews imposing ‘conspiracy of silence’ on doctors who might testify for medical malpractice plaintiffs.

    Daily Business Review Cover Story

  • Lawyers Weekly USA: “Florida Jury Awards $24 Million in Birth Injury Case” [July 18, 2005]

    07-18-2005

    Florida Jury Awards $24 Million in Birth Injury Case, Shoaf v. Geiling. John Elliott Leighton tried the case for the plaintiff.

    Lawyers Weekly News Article

  • Orlando Business Journal: “Largest Verdicts of the New Milennium: Shoaf v. Geiling” [June 20, 2005]

    06-20-2005

    The verdict obtained in Shoaf v. Geiling in Central Florida is the subject of the Orlando Business Journal’s article on Largest metro Orlando personal injury awards of the new millennia.

    Orlando Business Journal largest verdicts – Shoaf – highlighted.pdf

  • Daily Business Review: “5th DCA Clarifies No-Fault Birth-Trauma Law” [Jan. 7, 2004]

    01-07-2004

    Florida's 5th District Court of Appeal clarifies Florida's no-fault birth-trauma law (Florida Birth Related Neurologic Injury Compensation Act: "NICA").  Miami trial lawyer John Elliott Leighton is featured in a front page article about recent developments in the law.

    Daily Business Review News Article

    Current

    video

    John Leighton appears on CNN to comment on proposed parasailing safety regulations.

    watch video

    video

    John Leighton appears on NBC’s “Today” show as part of his representation of the family of Amber May White, who was killed in a parasailing tragedy.

    watch video

    video

    John Leighton featured on the vet of South Florida Legal Guide

    read article

    video

    John Leighton’s 2 volume book Litigating Premises Security Cases.

    order now