There is little in life more devastating than losing a child. It goes without saying that the last thing grieving parents should have to deal with is a funeral home operating with such disregard so as to lose, discard or otherwise misplace the body of a recently deceased child. Not knowing what else to do, S.F. and S.L. contacted our office in November of 2018. We immediately took over all dealings with the funeral home, identified all negligent acts and statutory violations and began working to right this wrong.
We obtained a great recovery of $300,000 for our client. We fight and win cases that other law firms can’t or won’t take on. Our client tripped and fell over exposed wires in his back yard. The company who installed the wires denied fault. Client had contacted two law firms whom both passed on this case. We filed a lawsuit and dug in and discovered the company violated its own procedures and safety protocols. We obtained a great recovery of $300,000 for our client. We fight and win cases that other law firms can’t or won’t take on.
While using a BBQ at his rental community it exploded. Our client was burned and luckily had a marvelous physical recovery.
The rental community denied fault, we filed suit and we were able to get our client a fantastic recovery of $500,000.
There is little in life more devastating than losing a child. It goes without saying that the last thing grieving parents should have to deal with is a funeral home operating with such disregard so as to lose, discard or otherwise misplace the body of a recently deceased child. For expecting parents S.F. and S.L., the tragedy of their beautify baby girl being stillborn was only the start of a nightmarish string of events which ultimately lead to them to our office in desperate search of answers.
Following the stillbirth of their baby daughter, and upon finally being discharged from the hospital where this horror began, these young parents contacted McWhite’s Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to began the painful process of making arrangements for the burial of their daughter. The funeral was held on 10/30/18. They had a custom-made dress and jewelry, in which their daughter was to be laid to rest. Family members and friends came to show their love and support. The room was held was decorated with flowers and other decorations. To help with the mourning process, the parents requested that the casket be open from 11:00am to 12:00pm; however, Mr. McWhite did not open the casket. When they requested he do so, he initially tried to discourage them before relenting at the parents’ insistence.
It was at that time, the family realized something was amiss. The parents noticed that their baby looked very different and much larger than they recalled from the hospital. They questioned Mr. McWhite, who told them this was due to the embalming process. They were confused and distraught, but they ultimately trusted his explanation. After the ceremony at McWhite’s Funeral Home, the family and friends proceeded to the cemetery where they laid their precious baby to final rest. Or so they thought.
A few days after the burial, and without any explanation, the parents received concerning correspondence along with a “Disinterment Order” that required their signature. When the parents questioned the need for this form, they were eventually told the truth. McWhite’s Funeral Home had mishandled their daughter’s remains. The funeral home provided them with the deceased body of another baby, and it was this other baby that was buried in their daughter’s grave, wearing their daughter’s clothes, and bearing the jewelry they personalized for their daughter. The gravity of the neglect left them in shock and disbelief. The thought of the ceremony, and all the prayers and tears shed over the body of a baby that was not theirs was overwhelming. Then the even more horrific reality set in; where was their baby? What about the poor family of the baby they incorrectly laid to rest? It defied understanding.
The parents returned to the cemetery on 11/8/18 and went through the painful process of selecting a grave site for their daughter once again. They returned to McWhite’s Funeral Home that same day to verify that their baby daughter’s body was still there. When they arrived they were shocked to see that their daughter’s body was simply wrapped in plastic, appearing decayed and withered. They broke down in tears again; the image forever seared into their minds.
The parents knew that they needed to place their daughter at rest as soon as possible, and the burial was scheduled for the following day. There were no flowers. Family and friends could not attend on this short notice. There was no custom dress or jewelry. And as if they had not been through enough, when they arrived at the funeral home on 11/9/18 they were told their daughter’s body was already taken to the cemetery and that their daughter was wrapped in plastic and sealed in her coffin. They were told that they could not re-open the coffin. Although becoming somewhat numb to repeated disregard for the dignity life and sanctity of death shown by McWhite’s Funeral Home, the parents were once again devastated. They refused to bury their daughter in that condition and insisted that the coffin be returned to the funeral home so that they could at least dress her in an outfit they had just purchased. The funeral home finally relented, and the baby was returned to the funeral home to be dressed. The burial went forward later that afternoon. The parents brought balloons and cards, said their prayers and said goodbye yet again.
Losing their daughter was the hardest thing S.F. and S.L. should have ever had to deal with. Unfortunately, in addition to having to deal with that loss, they now have to forever live with the horrible memory of how their baby daughter’s body was mishandled. They have to live with the image of their baby girl’s withered body, wrapped in plastic at the funeral home more than a week after they thought she had been laid to rest. For the rest of their lives the memory of their baby girl will always include the horrific mishandling of her delicate body.
Not knowing what else to do, S.F. and S.L. contacted our office in November of 2018. We immediately took over all dealings with the funeral home, identified all negligent acts and statutory violations and began working to right this wrong. It was clear from the outset that the funeral home was negligent in the handling this deceased baby girl. This negligence was then compounded by the attempted cover up, where information was being purposefully withheld and signatures were sought without explanation. In February 2019, we filed a lawsuit against McWhite’s Funeral Home for both compensatory and punitive damages pursuant to Fla. Stat. §497.607 and §497.169, as well as basic common law negligence principles. Within a just a few weeks of the filing of our lawsuit, the funeral home paid the family the full amount available under their insurance policy given the circumstances, which resulted in a $500,000.00 settlement. Nothing can undo what was done or make up for the horrific handling of this baby girl’s remains. But if obtaining the above settlement and delivering some measure of justice against this funeral home for what they did brought some small measure of relief to this family, we did our job.
It is easy for funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories to do their job correctly. When they fail to do so, immeasurable harm can be caused to the lasting memory of a loved one. Hopefully this case sends a message to not only McWhite’s Funeral Home, but every funeral home in the state: this kind of negligence cannot be tolerated.
Mr. Rivera was 33 years old and was riding his motorcycle Eastbound on Atlantic Avenue in Margate, Florida. He was in the left hand lane, traveling just under the speed limit at 40 MPH. An elderly man that was stopped in a left turn lane was facing Westbound. As Mr. Rivera approached, the elderly man made a left turn directly in front of Mr. Rivera.
Mr. Rivera attempted to avoid the accident by quickly moving his motorcycle to the right; however the car made an extremely wide turn. Mr. Rivera eventually was pinned between the motorcycle and the car, causing a near amputation of his left arm.
The trial lawyers at Wolf and Pravato, P.A., who are Ft. Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorneys, filed a lawsuit in Broward County, Florida.
After 18 months of more than 50 worldwide negotiations in New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Miami, as well as Frankfurt, Germany, the Honorable Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the U.S. Eastern District Court, New Orleans, Louisiana, announced that the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT) Defendants proposed a class action settlement that would resolve potentially thousands of Chinese drywall claims.
The proposed settlement is subject to court approval and the settlement value is estimated to be between $800 million to $1 billion, with approximately $160 million paid in attorney’s fees. The Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato, P.A. represent clients with approximately 395 homes that were affected by Chinese drywall.
Judge Eldon E. Fallon, United States District Court Judge for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, presiding over MDL 2047 In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, advises that the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT) jointly announced a landmark global class action settlement that will help thousands of American homeowners affected by problems with KPT Chinese drywall on December 15, 2011. This settlement effectively signals an end to the ongoing litigation and class action lawsuits against KPT and certain of its affiliated companies.
The agreement creates 2 funds from which plaintiffs may recover: the Remediation Fund and the Other Loss Fund. The Remediation Fund, which is uncapped, will pay costs of the three types of relief the class members can choose from: (i) remediation by Moss & Associates, the contractor for the remediation program established by the parties in October 2010; (ii) self-remediation by a qualified contractor of the homeowner’s choosing; and (iii) a cash out option, in which the homeowner can elect to receive a cash payment.
The Other Loss Fund, which is capped, will reimburse for certain provable economic loss and provide a review process for individuals who believe they have bodily injury claims. In addition, attorneys’ fees and costs will be paid.
When Ronda Mitchell’s mother died in 2014, the West Palm Beach woman struggled with getting over the loss of her best friend. Belle Glade funeral home Taylor, Smith, and West proved to be of no help, forcing the grieving Mitchell to make many contacts over the ensuing months in pursuit of her deceased mother’s ashes. After the crematory that was said to have handled the matter reported never having received the body, Mitchell got in touch with the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato. A jury has now awarded her $3.5 million in damages thanks to the work of the firm’s attorneys, with the same advocates now moving to collect on the judgment.
In June of 2015, Natasha, a mother of two, was sitting at a red light on Atlantic Boulevard in Broward County, Florida. A distracted driver crashed into the rear of Natasha’s car at near full speed, totaling both vehicles. The investigating police officer noted that she sustained “incapacitating” injuries, and paramedics transported her to the Emergency Room at North Broward Medical Center. The ER records reflect injuries to her neck and back.
Although her back improved over time, Natasha’s neck symptoms continued to worsen. She diligently attended physical therapy and followed all of her doctor’s instructions. However, despite the best efforts of her doctors and therapists, which included injection therapy, the pain never let up. Months after the collision she continued to have pain, numbness, headaches and other symptoms. An MRI of her neck revealed two fairly small herniations, the size of which defense experts would later seize upon in arguing Natasha’s injuries were minimal. Nonetheless, her physicians were concerned over her progressively deteriorating condition. For this reason, a spinal surgeon recommended cervical spine surgery. In October of 2015, Natasha presented to an outpatient surgery center, where a spinal surgeon performed a two-level anterior discectomy and total disc replacement at C3-4 and C4-5.
Prior to this horrific accident, Natasha was near the end of her college studies to become a medical assistant. Due to her surgery and lengthy recovery, Natasha had to postpone her internship, which was the final step toward finalizing her degree. Natasha’s life was severely impacted by this accident, as were the lives of her small children. Luckily, the surgery went extremely well and Natasha received the physical relief she needed and deserved.
Senior partner Richard Pravato demanded that the negligent driver pay their full policy limits of $500,000 to Natasha. After the insurance carrier evaluated Natasha’s claim, the defense offered only $150,000 to resolve the case pre-suit. Richard Pravato and Brett Yonon of Wolf & Pravato, PA filed a lawsuit in Broward County on Natasha’s behalf. The defense left no rock unturned in their efforts to avoid paying Natasha fair compensation for her injuries, as they retained private investigators to follow her and her children, combed through her entire medical, employment, financial and insurance history, and spent thousands of dollars hiring well credentialed medical experts, including an orthopedic spinal surgeon and a radiologist. The defense medical experts honed in on the minimal MRI findings, opining that there was no indication for the pain she was experiencing, that her MRI finding were “normal” and that her surgery was unrelated to the collision. However, through diligent research of the various medical issues by our attorneys and very skillful deposition questioning of these doctors, we were able to neutralize the defense medical experts.
After over a year of litigation and with a week-long trial just a few days away, Brett and Richard finally received a new offer to settle the case at almost 2 ½ times the pre-suit offer; $375,000 in exchange for a full and final settlement. After a great recovery from the surgical procedure, Natasha felt the offer was fair and accepted. Brett Yonon, who handled a large portion of the litigation, said, “Natasha’s life was turned upside down by this collision, and although she was terrified to have surgery, the amount of pain she was in was unbearable. Thankfully her surgeon did a great job and Natasha took her recovery very seriously. In the end, I am thrilled that we were able to get Natasha the compensation for her injuries that she deserved.”
Thomas Joseph Heike lived a full life before it was cut short by a fall down a defective stairwell, where he suffered fatal traumatic injuries to his head and cervical spine. He was a father, grandfather and great grandfather, despite being just 61 years old at the time of his passing. He also spent what little free time he had volunteering at his church and participating in food drives all over South Florida. Shortly after his untimely passing, his family contacted the Law Offices of Wolf and Pravato seeking answers. Immediately, we retained an engineering expert and traveled to the scene of the tragic fall.
After exhaustive investigation and research, it became clear the tragedy which claimed the life of Thomas Heike could have been easily avoided. As we alleged and would later establish in Court as a matter of law, the stairwell which claimed Tom Heike’s life was unfit for use. What made the stairwell even more dangerous was that the defects identified by our expert would not be observable to an untrained individual. We were able to prove that the stairwell was not built to code, was not properly permitted, was lacking required safety fixtures and fell well below the statutory standards regarding habitability. Once the Court determined fault, our next step was to present this tragedy to a Broward County jury for a determination of damages. Based on the Wrongful Death Statute in Florida, the only legal survivors were Tom’s four sons, who sought compensation for the loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance, as well as for pain and suffering related to their father’s passing.
At the close of trial, after about two (2) hours of deliberation, the jury awarded each son $500,000, and awarded the Estate of Thomas Joseph Heike $11,000 for medical and funeral expenses. Following trial, lead counsel Brett Yonon was asked what this 2 Million Dollar verdict meant: “Seeing the family’s reaction as the verdict was read aloud in Court is something I will never forget. Nothing will erase this tragedy or bring Tom Heike back, but if his family felt even a small measure of justice from this verdict, we did our job.” In addition to the very personal impact this case has had on the Heike family, our broader hope is that the substantial verdict will serve to encourage property owners across South Florida to follow all safety regulations and guidelines when building or improving any residential property.