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Parents who chide their kids over playing late-night video games might think differently after hearing the news of Matteo Policano Wednesday in West Virginia.

Matteo, 10, was up late playing video games while his parents and four siblings slept when he heard a strange noise, according to reporting from a local news station. At first, the young gamer told reporters he thought the sound was from his game and ignored it. As the sound persisted, however, he became alarmed and woke up his father. They discovered the sound was coming from a carbon monoxide detector and, thinking it may need a battery change, the father decided to switch them out for new ones. When a second carbon monoxide detector within the home started ringing, the parents knew the situation was serious and rang emergency responders. An investigation discovered that “large amounts” of carbon monoxide was leaching into the basement from the family’s pool heater.

Hazards of Carbon Monoxide 

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Two pedestrians running in a weekend race on U.S. 1 near mile marker 17  in Key West were hospitalized after being hit by a car whose driver had allegedly fallen asleep at the wheel.  

The driver, 23, was heading north when officials say she fell asleep at the wheel, eventually hitting two men identified by NBC 6 South Florida as a surgeon named “Matt D.,” and a University of Miami professor named “Gabriel.” The two men were hit around 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, and were participating in the Keys 100, a 100-mile point-to-point race to benefit The Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys Inc, which offers various services to cancer patients in the Keys who have to be shuttled to and from Miami for treatment. As the driver fell asleep, her car went out of her lane to the right, hitting the first runner and then the second before stopping on the road’s right shoulder. 

The wife of Matt D. said in an interview with NBC 6 that part of her husband’s right arm had to be amputated and he remains in the hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center for treatment. The wife of Gabriel, the other runner injured in the crash, said that doctors expect him to lose some function in his right arm. Both wives claim their husbands to be experienced runners with Gabriel’s wife adding that safety measures like cones and signs to tell drivers that there are runners in the area were missing. Keys 100 officials said in the article that the Seven Mile Bridge is coned, but not other parts of the course and “it [the entire course] never has been [completely coned off.]” 

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Nearly a decade after promising all properties listed on its platform would have detectors to safeguard guests from carbon monoxide poisoning, Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, called the task “very hard.” 

The comment was made in a recent interview Chesky had with NBC discussing difficulties that the company has faced. 

“It’s really hard to mandate things in 220 countries and regions and cities all over the world,” Chesky said in the interview. “And then if you mandate something, you have to have a mechanism to verify that it happens.”

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Leesfield & Partners secured a seven-figure confidential settlement for the family of a young woman who was killed in a single-boat accident. The accident happened under the cover of darkness and was caused by operator error. Our investigation revealed that speed and alcohol were the contributing factors to an accident that should never have occurred. The operator traveled above the speed limit with a blood alcohol level above the 0.08% limit. Traveling at high-speed, impaired, with limited to no visibility, the operator crashed his boat into a concrete dock. The extremely violent impact caused our young and unsuspecting female passenger to be thrown overboard along with the rest of the passengers. She was airlifted to a hospital with critical injuries but ultimately did not survive.

Operator Error is Leading Cause of Boating Accidents

Last June, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued its yearly Boating Accident Statistical Report, and there was an unfortunate increase in statewide boating-related fatalities. In 2022, Florida saw a total of 735 boating accidents, marking a decrease of 16 incidents compared to 2021. However, the sobering aspect of the report was the 65 lives lost in these accidents, which represented an increase of five fatalities compared to the previous year. Notably, since 2003, falls overboard have consistently been the leading type of fatal accident, with drowning as the leading cause of death.

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In the Courtroom

Partner Justin Shapiro represented a family visiting Key West from California that was involved in a jet ski incident and the firm represented the family of a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy injured in a motor vehicle accident.

photo__1823362_justin-150x150Unparalleled Experience and Success Representing Victims of Jet Ski Incidents

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In 1987, Leesfield & Partners opened their offices in Key West on the heels of a wrongful death case tried to verdict by Ira Leesfield. For the past four decades, the firm’s involvement in Monroe County has continued to grow both in the courts and in the community through educational programs, scholarships and contributions to numerous food banks. Every year the firm is a proud sponsor to the Marques Butler Memorial Softball annual tournament that is held in honor and memory of Marques Butler, a former client. The firm also looks forward to organizing, sponsoring and participating in the Monroe County Bar Association’s Annual Continuing Legal Education luncheon customarily held at Leesfield & Partners’ Key West Offices on Whitehead Street.

KW-BRIDGE-final-300x237It is through its personal injury practice that the firm makes the biggest difference in the community. Most recently, the law firm obtained an 8-figure settlement stemming from a house fire in Ramrod Key. This is the second time the firm has secured such a result for clients. A few years ago Leesfield & Partners tried E.E. vs. XYZ Resort Hotel & Marina and MARK JASON HOLMES to verdict and won $40,580,000 for his client. To this day, this remains the highest personal injury verdict in the history of Monroe County.

Ira Leesfield and his law firm also reached a seven-figure settlement on behalf of an Iowa family that was injured following carbon monoxide exposure at a Key West Hotel. In addition to proving that the hotel’s negligent repair to the boiler roof vent caused carbon monoxide to be forced back down into the boiler room of the hotel and into the adjoining guest rooms where our clients slept, the firm successfully fought for passage of Senate Bill 1822. It was the first law at the time that required public lodging establishments to install one or more carbon monoxide detectors that we all take for granted today.

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On Memorial Day, our client’s young boy who was snorkeling at the time was run over by a family boat operated by a 6-grader while at full speed and on a full plane. The propeller fatally injured him. Despite having a diver’s down flag prominently displayed, the reckless teenager who never should have been trusted with operating the boat alone fled the scene, went home, covered up evidence of his crime and lied to the police. Our investigation found five witnesses who saw him flee at full speed.

A lawsuit was filed against multiple defendants including the parents under counts of negligent entrustment and negligent supervision. Courts look at the following elements of negligent entrustment when the allegation is made against the parents of a young child: whether the parent entrusts an instrumentality to a child who because of his lack of (1) age, (2) judgment or (3) experience, may become a source of danger to others. In this case, our firm was able to satisfy every element by establishing that the recklessness behavior of the 13 year-old child/boat operator

Whether the parents knew or should have known with due care that injury to another was possible because of their child’s past reckless operation of the boat would constitute negligent supervision. We established through witness testimony, including from one neighbor who had previously seen the teen operating his boat in a reckless manner while the neighbor’s family was snorkeling at the docks off his house.

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For decades, Leesfield & Partners has sponsored and organized the Monroe County Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education luncheon. Having a long and cherished history in Key West dating back to 1976, the firm has always looked to collaborate with the MCBA and contribute to the legal community. This past Thursday, October 7th, the first post-pandemic luncheon at First Flight Restaurant and Brewery was an absolute success, with record attendance from the legal community and the Monroe County judiciary. The panel discussion, moderated by Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro, focused on the judiciary’s perception of the practice of law, and particularly, virtual proceedings made possible by videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Questions were posed to a number of Circuit Court and County Court Judges, who shared their insight and experience with the legal community over a delicious seafood lunch. The event also included a moment of silence to honor the recent passing of our longtime friends and colleagues with strong ties to Monroe County. The event was enjoyed by lawyers from all over the State of Florida.


Later that evening, Leesfield & Partners opened the doors of its Key West office on Whitehead Street for its annual conch-fritter party. The evening reception, open to both the legal community and the public, also saw record attendance. Judges, lawyers, and friends throughout the community mingled over fresh conch fritters, sliders, and cocktails. This was a wonderful opportunity for the community to reconnect after so many difficult months brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, the reception was a hit, and the feedback we’ve received is a powerful reminder of why we take such pride in hosting this event. We hope to see you in Key West for our luncheon and reception next year!


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Leesfield & Partners has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a vacationer for her claims against Hawk’s Cay Resort for the negligent transmission of Legionnaires’ disease which caused significant injury and illness.  Marcia Blanar was a guest at Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida, from June 30, 2021 until July 6, 2021, where she contracted the disease.

An investigation and environmental assessment of the property by the Florida Department of Health revealed a positive growth result for Legionella bacteria in the fountain near the main pool of the Hawk’s Cay Resort.  Legionnaires’ disease is a serious form of pneumonia that is spread from aerosolized water that contains Legionella bacteria.  According to the Florida Department of Health at least two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease were linked to individuals who had traveled to Hawks Cay during their exposure period.

The fountain near the main pool area where Legionella was positively identified by the Florida Department of Health is located at a main junction of the resort.  Multiple pool chairs flank the decorative circular fountain, and the exterior of the fountain is also utilized as a seat for hotel guest.  The area of the fountain is also immediately adjacent to a bar and several food service facilities.  Mrs. Blanar was exposed to the Legionella while sitting next to the fountain enjoying a beverage.  Hawks Cay Resort is a massive complex, advertised as having 427 villas and hotel rooms, six restaurants, a saltwater lagoon, five swimming pools, a full-service spa, as well as onsite watersports, fishing charters and Dolphin Connection facility on the premises.

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Justin Shapiro and Leesfield & Partners attorneys successfully recovered over $700,000 in settlements on behalf of their clients who sustained lower limb fractures. In both cases, our clients were guests at separate Key West hotels, and both fell victim to the hotels’ failure to warn and failure to adequately light concealed steps.

In the first case, Partner Justin Shapiro established that the concealed step was not only dangerous, but illegal for violating the 1992 Florida Building Code. Furthermore, the hotel failed to make the dangerous step “readily apparent” or to provide a handrail which was a violation of the NFPA Life Safety Code. Lastly, to add insult to injury, the hotel left its guests at the mercy of an illegal and dangerous step by not even warning them of the dangerous condition. Under such circumstances, it was beyond foreseeable that guests would fall and sustained life-changing injuries.

In the second case, Leesfield & Partners attorneys faced similar code violations, but our investigation also showed that the hotel owners did not just fail to address a dangerous condition, and actually created it. Attorneys with the firm established that the previous hotel owners had remedied the dangerous condition by adding adequate lighting which warned guests of the step down. However, when the new hotel owners took over, they made the decision to remove the lighting but failed to address / remove the underlying dangerous condition. All of this came into evidence via deposition of the previous owners and as a result, the hotel swiftly settled the lawsuit.

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