Blume Forte Spring 2018 Newsletter
Greetings from New Jersey
Our Successes in Personal Injury Litigation Span the State and Beyond!
From the editor
Greetings from New Jersey!
Welcome to the newest edition of the Blume Forte Fried Zerres and Molinari newsletter.
Here, you’ll find reports on our most recent verdicts, settlements and details of individual attorney accomplishments and honors, as well as information on our community events and involvement. Our firm has been committed to representing those seriously injured due to the negligence of others for almost a century. We consistently obtain outstanding results and the maximum recovery possible on every case we handle.
We have assembled a team of talented and dedicated attorneys and support staff who work tirelessly, utilize every resource at their disposal, and provide the best service and communication to every client. As a result, we have recovered more than 320 million dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients in the past 5 years, and paid 51 million dollars in referral fees over the past 10 years. On behalf of the entire firm, thank you for your trust in us. Your confidence in our work is the greatest compliment we can receive. We look forward to the next century of record results.
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey J. Zenna
Recent and Retrospective Recoveries
Here is just a sampling of the impressive results we have obtained in a variety of areas.
- $11,000,000 Medical Malpractice
- $4,600,000 Medical Malpractice
- $3,250,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $1,950,000 – Work Injury
- $1,500,000 – Legal Malpractice
- $1,400,000 – Auto Negligence
- $1,250,000 – Premises Liability
- $1,200,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $1,100,000 – Auto Negligence
- $1,100,000 – Sexual Assault
- $1,000,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $1,000,000 – Motorcycle Accident
- $990,000 – Premises Liability
- $900,000 – Delayed Diagnosis
- $900,000 – Auto Accident
- $900,000 – Premises Liability
- $875,000 – Premises Liability
- $800,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $750,000 – Motor Vehicle Accident
- $710,000 – Auto Accident / Premises Liability
- $700,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $650,000 – Auto/Motorcycle Accident
- $650,000 – Product Liability
- $650,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $550,000 – Premises Liability
- $550,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $512,500 – Bus Accident
- $500,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $300,000 – Motor Vehicle Accident
- $290,000 – Premises Liability
- $275,000 – Medical Malpractice
- $202,500 – Premises Liability
- $175,000 – Bus Accident
- $160,000 – Auto Accident
- $100,000 – Motor Vehicle Accident
What we do
You can imagine that, as we approach a century of practice in New Jersey, we have seen almost every type of personal injury matter possible. Not only do we bring successful results and large recoveries to our clients and referring attorneys, but we are immensely proud of the fact that in many cases, these wins also result in changes in policy or product design for defendants.
You will see our expansive practice list on the back cover of this issue. However, the majority of our cases fall within six key areas: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability, Premises Liability, Birth Injury and Work Injury.
Medical Malpractice – Failure to Diagnose
If a healthcare provider negligently misses a diagnosis of cancer or another illness, the consequences can be life-threatening. When such errors result in injury or harm, there may be a medical malpractice case. Three elements need to be present in a medical malpractice case: negligence, significant injury, and a connection between the two. Negligence is any action or inaction that deviates from the standard of care—how a similarly qualified medical professional would act under the same circumstances. Significant injury can range from disability to death. Delays or missed diagnoses can result from misreading or ignoring lab results, disregarding family history, neglecting to conduct tests, or failing to act in a timely manner. Early detection of disease could mean the difference between life and death.
Product Liability – Medical Device Malfunction
Medical technology has come a long way. We can now replace parts of our bodies that are no longer working. However, if these implanted devices malfunction or fail, the results could be serious or even deadly. Medical devices are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA evaluates their efficacy and safety. Even so, sometimes devices fail, perhaps due to a defect in design, manufacturing or improper use. To qualify as a product liability case, there must be an injury caused by a defect in the device or the way it is marketed. A lawsuit must also be filed within a specific time limit. Some categories of medical devices recalled by the FDA include knee and hip replacements, cardiac stents, and breast implants. When revision surgery is needed to correct the problem caused by the defective product, we can ensure the medical costs are covered, and obtain payment for pain, suffering and permanent disability.
Motor Vehicle Accidents / Auto Product Defects
Sometimes, auto accidents are not caused by driver negligence, but by a defect in a vehicle’s parts. To establish an auto product defect claim, we need to prove that the vehicle had a defective part that was a factor in the accident and resulting injuries. This could be a defect in design or manufacture, or a failure to provide a warning label. It also must be shown that the vehicle was being used as it was intended when the accident occurred. Examples of auto product defects include a malfunctioning cooling and temperature control system, electrical system, exhaust or fuel system. The brakes, steering, seatbelts, tires or airbags could fail. There could be defects in electronic stability control, or the vehicle could be prone to rollovers. We expect the vehicles that we drive to be safe. Holding automakers accountable for safe designs and manufacturing practices helps protect us all.
Premises Liability / Work Injury
Construction work is inherently dangerous. Employees work in confined spaces, at great heights and on unfinished buildings. Accidents are common, and when they happen, employees usually file for workers’ compensation benefits. But depending on the cause of the accident, they may be entitled to much more. If an accident is caused by negligence, the employer or general contractor may be at fault. Perhaps the site failed to follow the guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Uneven ground, improperly marked hazards, wet and slippery surfaces, and exposed electrical outlets are all examples of potential negligence. If an accident is caused by a defective tool or machine, the manufacturer may be at fault. The tool or machine may be defective in its design or manufacture, or it may have carried an inadequate warning. A power saw, ladder or drill that malfunctions could cause significant injury. If you’ve been injured on a construction site, consult an experienced attorney to determine the amount to which you may be entitled.
After months of waiting for your baby, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than a birth injury. If your child suffered the injury due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. There’s a potential for birth injury if your medical team fails to recognize or treat fetal distress. For example, if the baby does not receive enough oxygen, cerebral palsy, a brain injury that affects the muscles or nerves, can result. Brain damage also may occur due to improper use of forceps or vacuum extractor delivery, failure to recognize umbilical cord entrapment or failure to perform a timely Caesarean section. Other types of improper delivery practices can also result in physical injury or disability. If the healthcare provider practiced below the standard of care and an injury resulted, you may be able to make claims for the cost of medical care, pain and suffering, future lost wages, and other damages.
What does it mean to be a Certified Civil Trial Attorney?
The Supreme Court of New Jersey created a special designation to label attorneys who have a recognized level of competence in a particular area of law.
There are five areas of designation in our state: civil trial law, criminal trial law, matrimonial law, municipal court law, and workers’ compensation law.
To be designated a “Certified Civil Trial Attorney in New Jersey,” an attorney must:
• be a member of the New Jersey Bar in good standing for at least five years
• have taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses
• demonstrate substantial involvement in the preparation of litigated matters
• demonstrate an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to their character and ability, and
• pass a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty
Less than 3% of all New Jersey attorneys carry the “Certified” designation.
Almost half of Blume Forte attorneys carry the “Certified” designation.
When choosing Blume Forte, you can rest assured that you are making an informed decision.
The following attorneys have been included in the 2018 edition of “Super Lawyers” in New Jersey:
- Cynthia Craig
- Kenneth Elwood
- Carol Forte
- David Fried
- Ron Goldfaden
- Brian Mahoney
- Mitch Makowicz
- John Molinari
- Robert Sanfilippo
- Jeffrey Zenna
- Michael Zerres
Super Lawyers is a patented rating service of lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research as well as peer nominations and evaluations. Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.K., reaching more than 13 million readers.
…Backed By the Best
A law firm like Blume Forte cannot receive the recoveries, honors and accolades we do without the support of an incredible team. Our lawyers are backed by a strong and comprehensive support staff throughout our four offices: secretaries, paralegals and law clerks, as well as administrative staff. We also have other professionals working as part of our team who provide specialized support that is invaluable to our work: Nurses. We have three nurses that work to interpret medical documents, assist in forensic investigations, and conduct research on cases. Physician. We have a medical doctor on staff who assists in the analysis of cases, offers guidance on insurance and billing issues within cases, and works with our attorneys to better identify the causes, intricacies – and the consequences – of every client’s injury. Medical Librarian. Many law firms shed the role of “librarian” years ago, considering it a function that could instead be passed on to attorneys and staff. But we recognize that having a librarian as part of our staff allows deeper investigation in a wider range of areas, and provides attorneys with access to an infinite amount of resources in both print and online research. The bottom line is this: to ensure the best possible results, we have assembled a comprehensive team to assist in the development of each case so that the client obtains the greatest possible recovery.
Our Referral Network
Not only do we litigate cases in every county in New Jersey, we work for clients who have come to us from almost every state in the country (not to mention other countries).
“I have been fortunate enough to have learned from, worked with and gotten to know several members of the firm. Never before have I encountered a firm that is, without exception, populated by so many brilliant, hard-working and talented attorneys. They are a credit to our profession, and are professionals in every sense of the word.”
– Brian T. Leonard | The Leonard Law Firm, PLLCT
“We have known partners in the Blume firm for over 25 years and have referred or worked together with them on many cases. They have special expertise in obstetric shoulder dystocia/brachial plexus injury cases and we refer any of those case to them that are in their geographic area. We have also relied on the firm as our local counsel in pharmaceutical product cases.”
– Les Weisbrod | Miller Weisbrod LLP
Past President, American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, or ATLA)
New York, NY
“Our firm has worked closely with Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari, P.C. for over thirty years. Their firm works extremely hard to get terrific results on all matters that we entrust to them. The entire staff of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari, P.C is knowledgeable, helpful, and accessible. I would highly recommend their services to any person or attorney looking for a New Jersey personal injury firm.”
– Kenneth Halperin | Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP
New Orleans, LA
“I am working with Mr. Fried as co-counsel on a shoulder dystocia/ Erb’s Palsy case in Louisiana. Mr. Fried’s legal skills are renowned, and his knowledge regarding this unique area of medicine is beyond impressive. Additionally, although he is half a country away, Mr. Fried is always accessible and available to discuss legal and strategic issues. It has been a true pleasure working with him.”
– Louis L. Gertler, Esq. | Gertler Law Firm, LLP
“I have known John Blume and his firm for many years. The attorneys are extremely talented and fight for their clients to achieve optimal results. I recommend the firm without hesitation.”
– Gary D. Fox | Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain P.A.
San Diego, CA
“I have known the firm for more than 30 years. As a prior NJ attorney and current member of the California bar, I have had the opportunity to refer several cases to the firm. On every matter I have referred, I know that my interests are well protected and the firm will work tirelessly to obtain the best recovery possible.”
– George C. Heppner | Heppner & Elwood
“The Blume firm is outstanding in its representation of the injured. I’ve worked as co-counsel [with Blume Forte] and have been very pleased with the firm’s expertise, professionalism and positive results.”
– Paul Komyatte | The Komyatte Law Firm, LLC
“I know my clients are in good hands when I refer them to Blume Forte. I know and trust that their cases will be handled effectively and professionally.”
– Thomas J. Foley, III | Foley Law Firm
St. Louis, MO
“Our firm has worked as co-counsel with attorneys in over 37 states on catastrophic injuries and deaths. Choosing Blume, Forte, Fried, Zerres & Molinari as co-counsel was simply the right choice. Harris Feldman and his team worked with us every step of the way through the complex New Jersey court system, allowing us to pay attention to the catastrophic needs of our brain-injured client. As a team, we were able to obtain a multi-million dollar confidential settlement involving the strangulation of a child on a consumer product. We certainly look forward to the opportunity to work with Harris’s firm in the future.”
– James T. Corrigan O’Leary, Shelton, Corrigan, Peterson, Dalton & Quillin
- Turks and Caicos
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
Why we do what we do: the client
Some recent messages from two of many happy clients:
January 18, 2018
Harris S. Feldman, Esq.
1 Main Street Chatham, NJ 07928
I wish to convey my esteem and admiration for your professional excellence and personal manner in dealing with me regarding my auto accident case. Your attention to detail and knowledge were impressive by any standard. I perceive you to be a man of superior intellect and straightforward honesty, who is readily available to your clients. You exhibited a genuine caring for my predicament and the outcome. These are all qualities that are prized in any professional relationship. I wish you continued success and thank you very much for your efforts and the successful conclusion of this matter.
Words cannot express how tremendously grateful I am to Jeff Zenna for his sincere compassion and legal assistance during one of the most challenging times in my life. While coming highly recommended to me, Jeff handled a motor vehicle case wherein I sustained permanent injuries from 4 pelvic fractures. He was very upfront with me about the value of my case and he succeeded in going above and beyond to make sure I received the settlement I deserved for my injuries. Jeff’s level of expertise and professionalism surpassed even my greatest expectations. Every aspect of my case was taken care of by Jeff and his wonderful staff (specifically his paralegal, Cindy). I can honestly say that I was in good hands from beginning to end. Regardless of the time or the importance of my matter, every phone call and email was promptly and personally returned. He provided a support system and served as a mentor, exceeding the scope of what lawyers today are expected to do. Though it goes without saying, I would never hesitate to use or refer Jeff to anyone seeking the assistance of a highly qualified and competent attorney. Aside from his obvious skill, he is genuinely committed to his clients. -Sophia P.
Approaching a Century of Successes
Founded in Newark, New Jersey in 1929 by Charles Blume, our firm began with his vision. John Blume joined his father in 1959, together building what The National Law Journal reported in a May 8, 2000 article as “the most successful medical malpractice plaintiff’s firm in New Jersey.”
But it wasn’t just medical malpractice. Blume Forte excels in product liability, vehicular and pedestrian accidents, industrial/construction injuries, workers’ compensation, premises liability and more. In the last five years alone, we won 50+ settlements and verdicts of $425,000 to $46.7 million.
Today, you’ll find us in Chatham, Jersey City, North Bergen and Sea Girt. If you need a New Jersey personal injury attorney, call us at (973) 635-5400.
- 1929: After attending law school at night, at the age of 25 and at the beginning of the Great Depression, Charles Blume establishes a law practice in Newark, New Jersey upon his graduation from the University of Newark Law School.
- 1959: John Blume joins his father in the family law practice.
- 1963: John Blume opts to solely handle matters involving personal injury.
- 1997: The firm obtains a precedent-setting settlement of $10.5 million in a car accident case.
- 1999: A $12.7 million verdict is awarded to a client in a medical malpractice case.
- 2002: $11.2 million in settlements are obtained in five cases involving a very complex area of the law known as “uncrashworthy vehicle” cases.
- 2003: The firm wins a $25 million settlement over an injury case that occurred in the Turks & Caicos islands, the largest settlement of its kind in New Jersey history.
- 2005: The firm secures a $46.7 million verdict over a case involving toxic exposure.
- 2006: A wrongful birth verdict of $14 million is awarded by a jury to a client of the firm.
- 2009: An $11 million settlement is obtained for a client in a personal injury case.
- 2013: A $14.6 million jury verdict is obtained for a client who suffered a chiropractic malpractice injury
- 2017: An $11 million verdict is obtained for a client in a medical malpractice case
We are New Jersey
We have the state covered.
From our four offices situated around the state, we help clients with matters in every county in New Jersey. We draw referrals from colleagues in each of these counties, as well. It’s due to our successful track record and reputation for record-breaking verdicts and settlements.
- One Main Street, Chatham, NJ 07928
- 26 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ 07306
- 7300 Bergenline Avenue, North Bergen, NJ 07047
- 2150 Highway 35, Suite 250, Brook 35 Plaza, Sea Girt, NJ 08750
Educating Colleagues, Fostering Bonds.
Blume Forte hosts educational programs each year that not only benefit our colleagues in other firms with continuing legal education credits, but provide valuable networking connections. We have hosted past programs on business development, time management and many other topics. In 2017, attendees enjoyed food and networking before a program on taxation of damage awards from New Jersey CPA Martin H. Abo of Abo and Company, LLC / Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC.
Would you like to be added to our CLE invitation list? Email your fill contact information to [email protected].
Practice Tips: Notice Provisions in New Jersey
There is a maxim that dates back to the 15th century: “So long as I know it not, it hurteth me not.” The modern day version of this phrase is “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” Living in the “information age” with so much knowledge at our fingertips, this maxim is – at best – outdated. It is also quite wrong in the context of bringing claims for injuries, in that failing to know and comply with statutory notice requirements is usually fatal to even otherwise meritorious claims.
The five major statutory notice provisions encountered by personal injury claimants in New Jersey are:
- New Jersey Tort Claims Act
- The New Jersey Tort Claims Act requires that notice be served on any public entity against whom recovery may be sought within 90 days of the “accrual” of the claim. A claim “accrues” when the claimant came to learn that the negligent act of another caused an injury (however slight), or when the average, reasonable person – in exercising average, reasonable common sense, intelligence and diligence – ought to have learned that the negligent act of another caused such injury. The court will assess both of these dates at a hearing, and will calculate accrual from the earlier of the two dates. Failure to timely serve the notice may be remedied only by obtaining a court order permitting “late notice of claim;” however, such an order may be granted only upon a showing of “extraordinary circumstances” that prevented the timely service of the notice. Being unaware of the requirement to serve a claims notice is NOT an “extraordinary circumstance.”
- Federal Tort Claims Act
- The Federal Tort Claims Act requires service of a notice of claim with the pertinent department or agency within 2 years of the accrual of the claim. There is no provision for a “late notice of claim;” the time period is not extended even if the claimant is a minor, and it must contain a “sum certain” demand for compensation. Failure to strictly comply with all requirements will be fatal to the claim. Because many clinics that provide care to communities are federally-funded, they would be entitled to FTCA notice and present traps for the unwary claimant.
- The Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund Act
- The Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund, administered through the Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (PLIGA), provides a measure of compensation to automobile accident victims who do not have available coverage for payment of medical expenses and/or compensation for injuries. A notice of claim must be served on PLIGA within 180 days or, if notified of a disclaimer by an insurance company after that 180 days, within 15 days of that disclaimer. Failure to timely serve the notice is fatal to the claim, and there are no “late notice of claim” provisions.
- The Port Authority of NY & NJ Act
- The Port Authority of NY & NJ – which operates bridges and tunnels between the states, as well as airports and other commercial properties – has both an unusual notice of claim provision and statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for such claims is one year from the date of accrual of the claim. It must be preceded by the service of a notice of claim, and the claimant must then wait 60 days before filing suit. Thus, a notice of claim must be served within ten months of the accrual of the claim, with a suit filed no later than one year from the date of the accident.
- The Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Act Each has a different period of time in which to serve the notice and different procedures that must be followed.
- The Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Act requires the service of a notice of claim within 90 days of the date of the accident. Failure to serve the requisite notice will be fatal to the claim. It is absolutely necessary that potential claims should be assessed as soon as possible by knowledgeable and experienced attorneys.
Blume in the News
We’re making news, and it’s not just with our award-winning verdicts. Here are some of our recent accolades and noteworthy achievements.
Carol Forte Named “Lawyer of the Year,” speaks at events
In addition to her “Lawyer of the Year” designation (see “Best Lawyers,” right), Carol Forte spoke at a number of events throughout the last few months: the Brennan/Vanderbilt Inn of Court, the New Jersey Law Center, and the New Jersey and American Associations for Justice.
Jeff Zenna Expands Community and Professional Activities
In addition to his busy practice, Jeffrey J. Zenna has been active in both professional and community circles. He was recently named to the district 10B ethics committee as an investigator, reviewing ethics complaints filed against New Jersey attorneys. He was also elected to the board of directors of “Fellowship Village,” a retirement community in Basking Ridge where he is a regular volunteer. He continues to serve as a regular lecturer for continuing legal education programs for attorneys. One of the most recent presentations was a program at the New Jersey Law Center entitled “Tips on Avoiding Legal Malpractice.”
United States Supreme Court Admission for John Molinari
In December of 2017, John E. Molinari was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The induction happened at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. before all of the Supreme Court justices.
Several attorneys from Blume Forte were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America:
Cynthia M. Craig
Carol L. Forte*
David M. Fried
*In addition to being named a Best Lawyer for 2018, Carol Forte was also named “Lawyer of the Year” for Plaintiffs Medical Malpractice Law in the Newark, NJ region. Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area receives this designation annually. Inclusion in “Best Lawyers” is based entirely on more than 6.7 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers
Blume in the Community
- New Jersey Cares – and so does the staff of Blume Forte! The staff of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari recently came together to contribute 96 coats to the Jersey Cares Coat Drive. For over two decades, Jersey Cares has coordinated the collection and distribution of thousands of “gently used” winter coats to men, women, children and infants in need. Last year, that number topped 30,000 coats throughout the state of New Jersey. Blume Forte paralegal Wanda Freitas mobilized the collection effort within the firm
- McNANY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION Blume Forte’s own Donna Shivers received an award from the McNany Charitable Foundation, a local charitable organization that supports a variety of community endeavors: scholarship programs, youth athletic sponsorships, public safety and welfare efforts, and several other efforts assisting those in the local community. Blume Forte also made a contribution to support the work of the McNany Charitable Foundation.
- Blume Forte Supports Hospital Expansion Blume Forte recently made a contribution to Overlook Medical Center in support of the construction of a new nursing unit.
Look for more examples of fine citizenship from the Blume team in future issues!