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Florida Retirees Should be Alert to Guardianship Abuse - by Victoria Pearce

Bleakley, Bavol & Denman welcomes Darryl S. Beckman

Darryl S. Beckman joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman in July of 2018, bringing thirty years of legal experience in defense of civil litigation through regional and national insurance carriers, along with acting in an outside general counsel capacity to industry leading retailers and service companies. Darryl represents clients in nearly every aspect or phase of complex insurance defense, pharmaceutical and medical device products liability litigation, premises liability, and construction defect, architectural and engineering litigation, and consults on claims throughout the United States. Prior to joining Bleakley Bavol & Denman, Darryl was managing partner of a boutique insurance defense firm in New Jersey and counsel to a major regional firm where he developed expertise and specialization in complex commercial, products, medical and serious personal injury litigation.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Darryl is a 1983 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior. Darryl received his Juris Doctor degree from the Rutgers University School of Law in 1987. Darryl is admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. Darryl is also admitted to the practice of law in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District of New Jersey, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Darryl has lectured throughout the country on risk management and liability, both to insurance companies and industry executives, including lectures in Scottsdale, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Hartford, Connecticut, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Illinois and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and recent presentations to The Snow and Ice Management Association in June of 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Darryl has presented numerous lectures at Rutgers University and to company leaders focusing on defense of litigation from claim inception through trial, avoiding liability, contracts, insurance coverage, risk and claims management, and evaluating contractual defense and indemnification.

Darryl's expertise and experience includes development of risk management programs and all aspects of claims, including analysis of initial claim presentation, investigation, setting reserves, mediation, arbitration, trial and appeal.

Darryl and his wife Nora have been married for 29 years and have three beautiful daughters.


Bleakley, Bavol & Denman welcomes Victoria M. Pearce

Victoria M. Pearce primarily practices with general and complex litigation, estate and probate litigation, and construction litigation. Ms. Pearce is a member of the Young Lawyers Division and the Real Property, Probate & Trust Division of the Florida Bar. Ms. Pearce joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman in March, 2018 following her employment with the firm as a Summer Associate in 2017. As a Summer Associate, Ms. Pearce was able to participate and play a key role in the firm's record $16.4 million jury verdict award in a professional malpractice/guardianship matter.

Ms. Pearce received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of South Florida in December of 2014 and graduated Cum Laude from The Florida State University College of Law in December of 2017. In fact, Ms. Pearce completed her undergraduate and law degrees in 5 years total.

During her tenure at FSU, Ms. Pearce was on the Dean's List (2015-2017), an active a member of the Law Review, and received Book Awards in recognition of receiving the highest grade in Florida Constitutional Law and the Seminar on the Constitution Revision Commission. Ms. Pearce published her student note, A Family Affair: Presumption Of Benefit If Family Member?, with the Florida State University Business Review in Spring 2017. Ms. Pearce also published an op-ed, Oink, puff - and pass the statutory initiative, in the Tallahassee Democrat on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2017.

Ms. Pearce is a Tampa Bay native and grew up racing motocross across the United States. Prior to attending college, Victoria raced in the women's professional class. Outside of the office, Victoria enjoys CrossFit, volunteering with Make-A-Wish, "betting the ponies," and working on her farm.



Bleakley, Bavol & Denman welcomes Brian P Battaglia

Before joining Bleakley Bavol & Denman, Brian Battaglia began his legal career, where he was a shareholder, with one of the oldest and well-respected law firms in Pinellas County, Florida. Brian then established and operated his own law practice, concentrating in the areas of Employment and Labor Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, Zoning and Land Use matters, and Health Law.

Brian has litigated cases at every level of the Florida State Court system, including successfully arguing in the Florida Supreme Court. In addition, Brian has litigated cases in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and in administrative proceedings. A native Floridian from St. Petersburg, Brian received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his law degree from Drake University School of Law. In addition, Brian earned a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in Health Law from Loyola University Chicago.

Brian is dedicated to professionalism and excellence in providing legal services and has an "AV Preeminent" rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Brian is a past recipient of the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida and is Certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Circuit Court, County Court and Family Court Mediator. Brian is a National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM) panel member for Employment and Labor Law disputes in Florida. Brian is also a member of the Florida Bar, and admitted to practice in Florida, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Brian and his wife Nancy have been married since 1986 and have two sons. Brian has been an active leader and board member for various public and private organizations in the Tampa Bay area. Brian currently is a board member with Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services, Inc. (PEMHS) and Solutions for Administrative Services (SAS), and previously served as a board member with Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. and UPARC/The Arc of Tampa Bay.

Brian is a member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, West Pasco Bar Association, The Tampa Culver Club and is a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow.


Bleakley, Bavol & Denman has announced that effective April 2, 2018, the firm will be named Bleakley Bavol & Denman

Bleakley, Bavol & Denman has announced that effective April 2, 2018, the firm will be named Bleakley Bavol & Denman, reflecting J. Ronald Denman as a named partner of the firm.

Managing Partner Bob Bleakley commented, "Chuck and I knew back in 2014 when Ron joined our firm that we had just gained a very talented litigator. Ron's dedication and the incredible effort and enthusiasm he brings to the table for the firm's clients has far exceeded our expectations. This name change recognizes Ron's significant contributions to the firm and the outstanding results he has achieved for our clients. Ron is a talented attorney whose national litigation experience allows him to handle the most complex legal issues."

The newly renamed Bleakley Bavol & Denman will continue offering the same trusted legal solutions, built over the past 18 years, in the areas of commercial, professional, employer, construction, and tort litigation, business and corporate transactions, estate and succession planning, and guardianship and probate matters. The firm is known for applying its "big firm" legal experience while offering the personalized benefits of a boutique law firm.

Bleakley Bavol & Denman is home to attorneys who are AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell in their respective practice areas.

Bleakley Bavol & Denman Welcomes Marko Crespo

Marko Crespo joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman in March of 2018. Mr. Crespo focuses primarily on workers' compensation defense and insurance defense litigation. Prior to joining Bleakley Bavol & Denman, Mr. Crespo practiced exclusively in the area of workers' compensation defense at a large firm in Sarasota, Florida and a smaller firm in Tampa, Florida.

Mr. Crespo was born in Anniston, Alabama but was raised in Tampa, Florida and attended high school locally at Tampa Jesuit High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Real Estate from Florida State University in 2012. Subsequently, he continued his education at Stetson University College of Law where he received his Juris Doctor in 2015. Mr. Crespo is a member of the Young Lawyers Division and Workers' Compensation Section of the Florida Bar.

Mr. Crespo lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife Brittney. He is an avid Florida State and Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan. He enjoys traveling, sports and spending time with his family and friends.

Bleakley Bavol & Denman Welcomes N. Rivver Cox

N. Rivver Cox initially joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman as a summer law clerk between his second and third years of law school. In 2017, upon admittance to the Florida Bar, the firm hired Cox as an Associate Attorney. Cox primarily practices with the firm’s premises, general, auto and trucking liability teams. In addition, Cox lends valuable depth in the areas of construction law, and commercial litigation.

Cox was born in Abingdon, Virginia and grew up on the South Holston Lake. In 2013, he earned his Bachelor of Science dual-degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology from Virginia Tech, where he graduated summa cum laude. Subsequently, Cox earned his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2017.

During law school, Cox was a Dean nominated Ambassador at Wake Forest University and a member of the Journal of Business and Intellectual Property. Cox gained initial legal experience at the state government level as a summer associate assisting the General Counsel in Raleigh, NC. Cox is admitted to The Florida Bar.

On a personal note, Cox moved from the mountains to the gulf in 2017. He is an avid traveler, sports fan, and enjoys all activities on the water.

Bleakley Bavol & Denman Welcomes Courtnee C. Reid

Courtnee C. Reid joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman in July, 2017. Ms. Reid concentrates her practice in the areas of workers compensation and insurance defense litigation. Prior to joining Bleakley Bavol, Ms. Reid practiced exclusively in the area of workers compensation defense for three years at a large law firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Ms. Reid was born in Miami, FL and grew up between Florida and the island of Jamaica. She attended The University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, earning her Bachelor of Arts, with Honors, in Psychology. Ms. Reid continued her education at Vanderbilt University Law School where she received her Juris Doctor.

During law school, Ms. Reid was a First Amendment and Professional Responsibility Legal Research Assistant, a member of Moot Court, the Vice President of the Black Law Student Association, and selected as a Cal Turner Fellow. Following law school, Ms. Reid was chosen for a pro bono fellowship at Dade Legal Aid, practicing in the areas of family law, focusing on domestic and child custody issues.

In her free time, Ms. Reid loves to spend time with her family and close friends. An avid traveler, she has been to over twenty countries and loves to explore new cultures, while meeting new people.


Jury Awards 16.4 Million Against West Palm Beach Guardianship Attorneys

On Friday, July 28, 2017, a unanimous jury in the U. S. District Court, West Palm Beach Courthouse, awarded $16,400,000 to the Estate of Oliver Wilson Bivins, Sr., and against West Palm Beach guardianship attorneys, Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin of the Ciklin Lubitz & O'Connell law firm. The hotly contested two-week jury trial was handled by BBLF partners Ron Denman, Chuck Bavol and Grant Kindrick.

The jury found that attorneys Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin had breached both their professional and fiduciary duties to Oliver Wilson Bivins, Sr., an incapacitated ward of the State of Florida. The complaint against Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin and their law firm, Ciklin Lubitz & O'Connell, alleged that they engaged in actions that increased their own attorneys' fees to the detriment of Mr. Bivins' guardianship estate.

In the federal lawsuit filed by his son, Julian Bivins, in his capacity as personal representative of the Estate of Oliver Bivins, Sr., lawyers for the Estate argued during the trial that guardianship attorneys Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin, litigated to keep Mr. Bivins located in Florida and to prevent him from returning to his decades old home in Amarillo, Texas, in order to maintain control over the Florida guardianship so they could generate legal fees. Attorneys for the Estate argued that throughout the four-year guardianship, Brian O'Connell, Ashley Crispin and the Ciklin Lubitz & O'Connell law firm charged Mr. Bivins' guardianship estate over $1,000,000 in legal fees while liquidating real estate assets at values detrimental to the estate and entered into self-serving agreements with third parties that failed to serve the best interests of the guardianship estate. During the guardianship,the court record reflects that Mr. O'Connell and Ms. Crispin also filed lawsuits against both of Oliver Wilson Bivins Sr.'s children and funded the litigation through the substantial assets of their incapacitated father.

The jury's $16,400,000 verdict award against Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin, for actions taken in connection with the guardianship, presided over in the guardianship court by Judge Martin Colin, marks yet another entry into the intrigue surrounding professional guardians in the Palm Beach County Guardianship and Probate Courts. Based on this significant jury verdict and the ongoing investigative journalism in Southern Florida concerning professional guardianships, the need for reform of the guardianship system to protect Florida's elderly citizens is again underscored.

After the verdict, the Estate's lead counsel, Ron Denman, commented "through the jury verdict, it appears the people of south Florida demand accountability from the lawyers (and guardians) appointed by the legal system to represent the interests, and protect the assets, of its incapacitated citizens."


Bleakley Bavol & Denman announces promotion of Grant Kindrick from associate attorney to Partner

The partners of Bleakley Bavol & Denman are pleased to announce the promotion of Grant Kindrick from associate attorney to partner.  Upon graduation from George Washington Law School in 2010, Mr. Kindrick joined the firm as an associate attorney.  For the past seven years, Mr. Kindrick has served nearly all of the litigation teams in the firm.   Grant has the unique experience of having second chaired several jury trials in both federal and state courts; second chaired arbitrations; and handled multiple administrative hearings and motions hearings.    Mr. Kindrick's practice range is even more broad than his litigation experience.   Mr. Kindrick started his associate path handling primarily the defense of workers compensation claims.  Because of his competence in handling those matters, other firm partners, one by one, began assigning cases to Grant until his daily work may include litigating a complex commercial case; probate disputes; premises liability; auto liability; employment litigation; defamation; and workers compensation cases.  It would not be unusual for Mr. Kindrick to touch all of those areas of law in a single week, and at any given time he is preparing for a trial in multiple categories.   In short, on behalf of all of the firm's partner's, we are pleased to call Mr. Kindrick our "partner". 

Bleakley Bavol & Denman welcomes Gerard Duignan

Gerard (Jerry) Duignan joined Bleakley Bavol & Denman in 2016. Duignan has extensive experience litigating first and third party insurance matters.

Duignan was born in Oyster Bay, New York but grew up in Tampa, Florida where he attended the University of South Florida. Duignan subsequently earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1997 from the University of Florida.

Since becoming a member of the Florida Bar, Duignan has handled a wide array of cases including automobile negligence claims, premises liability claims, defense of sinkhole claims, professional liability claims, construction claims, insurance coverage issues, and personal injury protection claims. Duignan also has appellate experience, including arguing before the Second District Court of Appeals.

Duignan lives in Lutz with his wife, Annabel, and two sons. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing guitar.

Florida: An Overview of Recent Decisions on Constitutionality of Workers' Comp Act

Robert Bleakley and Grant Kindrick successfully defended long-time client Advance Auto Parts

Robert Bleakley and Grant Kindrick successfully defended long-time client Advance Auto Parts and one of its drivers in an alleged delivery truck versus pedestrian accident in which the pedestrian claimed to have suffered an injury to her left knee requiring surgery, future surgery, and pain and suffering/mental anguish. After a 5 day trial, the jury deliberated for 25 minutes before returning a verdict for the defense. 10/15/15

Bleakley Bavol & Denman is pleased to welcome J. Ronald Denman to the firm

Bleakley Bavol & Denman is pleased to welcome J. Ronald Denman to the firm. Denman has a national litigation practice and represents public and private companies in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation matters, including intellectual property litigation, deceptive and unfair trade practices, directors' and officers' liability, professional liability, personal injury and products liability defense, construction litigation, probate and guardianship litigation, and family law matters.

Robert Bleakley and Susan Lee win a four-day trial in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. 

Robert Bleakley and Susan Lee recently won a four-day jury trial in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. The plaintiff claimed significant neck injuries following an accident in which her vehicle collided with a truck owned by Smithfield Packing, Inc.

Mr. Bleakley and Ms. Lee represented Smithfield Packing, Inc. and its driver. At the time of the accident, the Smithfield truck was blocking two lanes of northbound traffic on Alexander Street in Plant City, Florida. However, the jury found the plaintiff 90% at fault for the accident and awarded her no damages for past or future medical expenses, even though she had a two-level fusion in her cervical spine and her surgeon recommended another surgery at the adjacent levels.

The plaintiff agreed to dismiss the case, with prejudice, following the verdict because Smithfield filed a proposal for settlement earlier in the case, meaning that, as a result of the jury verdict, plaintiff owed Smithfield's attorneys' fees and costs. Mr. Bleakley and Ms. Lee were able to establish that the accident occurred because the plaintiff was likely speaking on her cell phone at the time she impacted the Smithfield truck. Moreover, Mr. Bleakley and Ms. Lee established that the plaintiff's neck injuries were not caused by the subject trucking accident.

Bleakley Bavol & Denman announces the hiring of two new attorneys, Susan Lee and Melissa Santalone. 
Bleakley Bavol & Denman is pleased to announce the hiring of two new attorneys, Susan Lee and Melissa Santalone. Ms. Lee comes to the firm with 7 years of trial practice in the state of Texas and will assist the firm in construction law, employment law, and trucking/auto and premises liability defense. Ms. Santalone comes to the firm with 3 1/2 years of trial practice in New Jersey and will work in the firm's product liability, medical/dental malpractice, and trucking/auto and premises liability defense departments.

Chuck Bavol and Melissa Krepps win a two-week jury trial in Pinellas County Circuit Court
Chuck Bavol and Melissa Krepps of Bleakley Bavol & Denman in Tampa, Florida recently won a two-week jury trial in Pinellas County, (Clearwater, Florida), Circuit Court. In a case of significant importance on the issue of liability for technicians of medical device manufacturers, Chuck and Melissa represented Advanced Neuromodulation Systems, Inc. (now a part of St. Jude Medical), and its individually sued technical representative. The plaintiff sued both for alleged negligence claiming the technician misprogrammed the plaintiff's implanted spinal cord stimulation device, resulting in untreated continued intractable neuropathic pain requiring increased use of narcotic analgesics, inability to participate in physical therapy, and ultimately requiring the amputation of the plaintiff's right arm. The jury returned a verdict for the defense on all counts. A hearing on the defense's motion for attorney fees for plaintiff's rejection of a statutory $50,000 Proposal For Settlement is pending.

Quality Distribution, Inc. named Robert W. Bleakley as its 2013 Defense Counsel of the Year
Quality Distribution, Inc., the nation's largest commercial bulk transportation carrier, named Robert W. Bleakley as its 2013 Defense Counsel of the Year.

Addition of Robert Grace to Bleakley Bavol & Denman 
Bleakley Bavol & Denman is pleased to announce the September 2012 addition of Robert Grace to its team of talented professional litigators and corporate lawyers!!!

Webinar - Foreign Suppliers: Managing the Products Liability Risk in Your Supply Chain - May 23, 2012

Medical device and drug manufacturers are increasingly doing business with foreign suppliers to locate comparatively inexpensive raw ingredients and component parts. However, the perceived advantages of this strategy may be short-lived without proper control over the products liability risks that may arise from foreign suppliers. This webinar will address:

  • Common products liability risks associated with foreign suppliers;
  • Legal challenges related to suing foreign suppliers in U.S. courts;
  • Strategies for transferring risk to foreign suppliers; and
  • Tips for minimizing risk.

Chuck Bavol, Esq.
is a partner with Bleakley Bavol & Denman in Tampa, Florida. Chuck has extensive national jury trial experience and has successfully defended lawsuits, both individual and class action, involving a variety of implants, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Since 1989, Chuck has been a member of Medmarc's defense panel counsel. In 2006, Chuck was named Medmarc's Attorney of the Year in recognition of superior legal representation of Medmarc member companies.

Chuck served as National Trial Counsel for Dow Corning Corporation in its defense of silicone implant product liability cases involving its many and varied non-mammary implants. In that capacity he has tried silicone mass tort cases across the country, as well as serving on the National Litigation Team managing local counsel throughout the United States and Canada.

Chuck received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with distinction, from the University of Michigan in 1976 and Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Wayne State University in 1979.

Chuck is a member of The Florida Bar, State Bar of Michigan, U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth and Eleventh Circuits.

60 Minutes To Return a Defense Verdict In Dental Malpractice Case
Chuck Bavol spent two weeks at the end of January in trial in Sarasota County Circuit Court defending Sarasota dentist against claims of dental malpractice. The case involved allegations of negligent placement of eight (8) upper and five (5) lower dental implants, along with negligent design of the full mouth restoration prostheses that were fixed to the dental implants.

The Plaintiff, a 55 year old female from London, England, had her remaining fourteen (14) natural teeth extracted, desiring a full mouth restoration with dental implants. Following recovery from the implant surgery, a full upper and lower prosthesis was fabricated and fixed into place by screws through the prosthesis and into the dental implants. Two and one half years after implantation, a massive infection resulted in the loss of four (4) upper implants and one (1) lower implant, with significant destruction of bone under the gums.

The Plaintiff took 6 1/2 trial days to put in her case. The defense case took only 1 1/2 trial days. After closing arguments, the jury took only 60 minutes to reach a verdict in favor of the Defendant dentist on all counts. Post-trial motions for attorney's fees and costs are pending on the Plaintiff's failure to accept a statutory pre-trial Proposal for Settlement.

Chuck Bavol & Melissa Krepps win case involving allegations of undisclosed water intrusion, mold and defects
DRI members Chuck Bavol and Melissa Krepps, partners with Bleakley Bavol & Denman in Tampa, Florida, spent nearly the entire month of July 2011, in trial in Sarasota County Circuit Court defending a Non-disclosure and Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) case against a Sarasota luxury home builder. The case involved allegations of undisclosed water intrusion, mold and defects in a $4 million waterfront home on Siesta Key.

The plaintiff sued the builder in his individual capacity and was allowed to amend her complaint to allege punitive damages. She sought the difference in market value of the home when she purchased it in February 2007, to the time she sold it at auction in late 2008, including costs for remediation of mold and other repairs. The defense centered on the plaintiff's “buyer's remorse” in purchasing an investment property at the very time the market was beginning a steep decline. With respect to the water intrusion and mold claims, the defense focused upon the plaintiff's maintenance of the home during the warm Florida summer months while the plaintiff was away at her home in Maine and the complete absence of any evidence that the defendant knew or should have known of any mold or water intrusion issues existing at the time of sale. Evidence indicated that the plaintiff kept the temperature/humidity levels in the closed-up home at 85°/60% - an ideal recipe for mold growth. The plaintiff took nine and a half trial days to present her case. The defense was completed in three and a half days. After closing arguments, the jury took only 90 minutes to reach a verdict in favor of the defendant on all counts. Post-trial motions for attorneys' fees and costs on plaintiff's failure to accept a pretrial proposal for settlement were granted, and payment from the plaintiff has been received by a very happy defendant!

To learn more about DRI, an international membership organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation, visit www.dri.org. For printable version of this article, click here.

Chuck Bavol and Melissa Krepps recently won important victories in two medical device cases
Chuck Bavol and Melissa Krepps recently won important victories in two medical device cases in which the appellate courts affirmed summary judgment in favor of the medical device manufacturers.