Attorney Justin C. Leto reaches settlement with Broward County for $300,000

Watch NBC 6 investigative report featuring Justin C. Leto

Justin C. Leto of Leto | Bassuk has been featured in an NBC 6 investigative report about the problems in the Broward County paratransit system.  The investigation stems from an incident involving Leto | Bassuk client, Miguel Colareta.  Miguel was a disabled resident of Broward County in 2012 and utilized the TOPS paratransit program to get to and from work.  On April 16, 2012 he was backing his electric wheelchair out of a van owned and operated by private contractor Allied Medical Transport when the van’s wheelchair lift failed, causing Miguel to fall to the ground.  The fall caused a break in his spine and a bleed in his brain.  The end result was that this man that had worked so hard to overcome his disabilities was left a quadriplegic, relegated to a nursing home and in need of 24 hour care.

Leto | Bassuk (known at the time as The Leto Law Firm) filed a lawsuit against Allied Medical Transport and the manufacturer of the lift.  After resolving the matter with the lift manufacturer, the case proceeded against Allied Medical Transport.  A judgment was eventually entered against Allied Medical Transport for $10 million, which you can read about here.

Next, a lawsuit was filed against Broward County alleging a complete mismanagement of the paratransit system.  Recently, Broward County agreed to settle the case for the maximum allowable under statutory caps, $300,000.

Tony Pipitone of NBC 6 has been following this story and other stories involving the problems surrounding the paratransit programs in both Miami-Dade and Broward County, and following this settlement with Broward County, NBC 6 interviewed Aida Colareta and Justin Leto about the case, the result, and what it will mean for the Colareta family.

Leto | Bassuk proudly represents victims in catastrophic injury cases, traumatic brain injury cases, and wrongful death cases.  Whether the injury or wrongful death is caused by medical malpractice, trucking negligence, auto negligence, construction defect, or product defect, Leto | Bassuk has the experience necessary to pursue the case with success.

U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling–Same Sex Marriage Legal

June 26, 2015 will be remembered as a landmark day in our Country’s history.  There will be no more discrimination against same sex couples in the United States.  States like Florida can no longer refuse to recognize same sex marriages from other states and, for all intents and purposes, this ugly chapter of discrimination is now over.  In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states cannot discriminate against same sex couples.  In essence, the Court has created an entirely new civil right, allowing same sex couples to enjoy the very same legal rights as traditionally married couples.


Leto | Bassuk has been a supporter of gay marital rights and has challenged the Florida Courts in the past to allow same sex couples equal rights.  We have written several blogs about same sex rights, which you can read here and here.  However, because of the existence of discriminatory laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and state laws in Florida which expressly prohibited gay marriage and gay adoption, these challenges were met with heavy resistance.  However, those days are now over and same sex couples will no longer have to fight for basic rights such as hospital visitation, parental rights, estate rights, and tax benefits.  More importantly, this Country has taken a huge step forward, joining 20 other countries that have refused to allow discrimination to dictate their laws.



Featured on NBC 6–$10 million judgment for man injured in Broward County paratransit vehicle

Justin C. Leto recently obtained a $10 million judgment for a man who was catastrophically injured when he fell from the wheelchair lift affixed to a Broward County TOPS van, which was owned and operated by Allied Medical Transport, Inc.  NBC interviewed the victim, his family and Justin C. Leto regarding the ordeal and the long path to justice.  You can read the article and watch the video here.


Miguel Colareta suffered from a chronic condition which rendered him unable to walk.  Despite his disability, he raised three daughters with his wife, Aida, and continued to go to work every day at Goodwill Industries in Ft. Lauderdale.  Since he could not drive or take the county bus, Miguel used the paratransit system provided by Broward County.  A van equipped with a wheelchair lift would pick him up from home each morning, drive him to work, and pick him up to take him home when the work day was over.


On April 15, 2012, Miguel arrived at work on one of the paratransit vans.  While he was backing his wheelchair up onto the wheelchair lift, the lift failed and Miguel fell to the ground.  The result was a severe brain and spinal cord injury which rendered him a quadriplegic.  A man who battled disability with success his entire life was now relegated to a nursing home, unable to move his hands or even lift his head.


Our firm investigated the case and found out that Allied Medical Transport had performed absolutely no preventative maintenance on the wheelchair lifts, despite the manufacturer requiring routine and specific maintenance.  Shockingly, the wheelchair lift that failed and caused Miguel’s fall had been open and closed nearly 9,000 times without any preventative maintenance.  The manufacturer required preventative maintenance every 750 times the lift was used.  This gross negligence was not isolated to the one van but appeared to be the norm for the entire operation.  Some vans had lifts which had received no maintenance after 15,000 cycles.


To make matters worse, the wheelchair lift that caused Miguel’s fall was the subject of a recall only one month prior to the incident and even though Allied Medical Transport knew of the recall, the vans were permitted to continue operating throughout Broward County.


After many months of litigation, our firm secured a $10 million judgment against Allied Medical Transport and is now suing Allied Medical Transport’s insurance company, Sparta Insurance, alleging that Sparta acted in bad faith when it failed to settle the case for it’s insurance policy limits when it should have done so.



Justin C. Leto featured in NBC6 report on Redland Police Shooting

In February 2013, we published our first blog posting about the killing of Antonio Andrew by Miami-Dade police in a botched police SWAT operation. You can read that blog posting here. A second blog posting was added after the Daily Business Review investigated the shooting death of Antonio Andrew by police. You can read that blog posting here.


Our firm settled the cases involving these police shootings for $600,000 after filing suit in federal court. Since that time, NBC6 investigative journalist Tony Pipitone has done a series of stories about this shooting and the need for police to wear cameras on their uniforms for their protection and for the protection of the public.  See links here, and here


As part of a story run on NBC6 in January 2015, Justin C. Leto was interviewed about the shooting deaths of Antonio Andrew, Jorge Lemus and Roger Gonzalez, Sr. A link to that story is here.


Other news outlets have also covered this story including The Miami Herald (link to story here), The Miami New Times (link to story here), and CBS (link to story here).


At Leto | Bassuk, we represent victims of wrongful death, civil rights violations, medical malpractice, nursing home malpractice, product liability, auto accident, and other types of personal injury.

The Leto Law Firm files suit against Florida Hospital Orlando

The Leto Law Firm Files Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against Florida Hospital Orlando.


A central Florida resident passed away at Florida Hospital Orlando on March 8, 2013. His wife hired The Leto Law Firm to investigate the case to see if medical malpractice caused the man’s death. After conducting an investigation and hiring medical experts, The Leto Law Firm determined that the death was the result of medical malpractice and filed suit against Florida Hospital Orlando.


The lawsuit alleges the following set of facts:


The man went to Florida Hospital Orlando for a cardiac catheterization.  The result of the cardiac catheterization revealed that a bypass was necessary.  His heart surgery was more complicated than the average bypass procedure because he had a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.  This is, in essence, an allergy to heparin, which is the most commonly used anti-coagulant (blood thinner) for bypass patients.  The doctors knew that he had a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia so he was prescribed a special drug to counteract any allergic reactions he may have had as a result of the use of heparin during the bypass.  This drug (methylprednisone a/k/a Solumedrol), prescribed by the surgeon, was supposed to be given every 8 hours beginning the day before the surgery.  The medication was given by the nursing staff at 4pm and midnight the day prior to surgery, but the dose that was set to be given at 8am on the morning of the surgery was not given by the nursing staff.  Instead, the nurse responsible for following the doctor’s orders neglected to give the required medication.  Furthermore, the nurse failed to inform the surgeon that the medication was not given.  As a result, he went to surgery and received a large dose of heparin without the prescribed dose of medication specifically prescribed to counter the potentially harmful effects of heparin.


The surgery was a success but shortly after return to the recovery room, a rash formed all throughout his body.  He was covered in welts and his blood pressure dropped dramatically.  A code blue was called and he was rushed back to emergency surgery. Sadly, the doctors were unable to revive him and he died in the operating room.


A medical malpractice lawsuit claiming that the hospital and it’s nurses failed to provide proper care and treatment has been filed.
The Leto Law Firm represents victims of Florida medical malpractice, wrongful death, and all other personal injury matters throughout the State of Florida.  The firm is honored to be able to represent this family in this sad and tragic case.  Medical errors are all too common in this country and we fight for the victims of those medical errors.


To see a prior media appearance by Justin Leto on issues related to medical malpractice experts testifying at trial, take a look at this link from Headline News.

Florida Medical Malpractice Consent Rule Preempted By Federal Law, Says Judge

Medical malpractice law in Florida reached a significant turning point last week when a federal judge struck down a key part of a state 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 – even in the absence of patient or their legal representative.

According to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who presided over the case, the state law violates the patient consent provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The law would have required a patient seeking to pursue a medical malpractice claim to submit a broad medical authorization allowing the defendant doctor and their lawyers to access the patient’s medical records and discuss the patient’s medical history without the presence of the patient or their attorney.

But Judge Hinkle found that those limitations are so broad that they don’t ensure the privacy of the patient’s medical condition, especially with no one being there to enforce the limitation. This conflicted with two HIPPA provisions that deal with patient consent and patient privacy rights, with the law found to be mandating patients to accept this arrangement rather than freely agreeing to it.

However, his ruling did preserve another important part of the law, which required an expert medical witness testifying against a physician to be engaged in the same specialty as the defendant doctor. Previously the expert witness could be in the same or similar specialty as the defendant, with the courts having broad authority to decide the criteria.

You can read The Leto Law Firm’s previous discussions about this law and how it came to be enacted in our blogs from August 13, 2013, entitled “Florida Attorneys Challenging Medical Malpractice Law” and our blog from January 21, 2013 entitled “Florida Supreme Court protects doctor-patient confidentiality”.

It remains to be seen whether this law will be appealed or whether Florida lawmakers will find a way to work around it. Regardless, Justin Leto and his team remain on top of all the latest legal developments to ensure you’ll receive only the most effective assistance. If you’re looking for only the most professional Miami Personal Injury Lawyer or medical malpractice expert, call 305-577-8448.

Obamacare’s Impact on Medical Malpractice

Although Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act, will be phased-in gradually after January 2014, there’s already much preparation being made for how it will alter the healthcare landscape – especially with regards to medical malpractice law.

Doctors, insurance providers, and legal experts all over the country have already made some predictions about what to expect in this regard, albeit with differing conclusions.

Many believe that medical malpractice claims will increase due to the influx of newly insured people. As tens of millions Americans seek medical care they couldn’t previously afford, the rate of medical mistakes – and subsequent malpractice claims – will likely increase proportionately. Even if it didn’t, the sheer number of patients may raise the occurrence of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Others feel that the number of malpractice claims will remain unchanged, because there won’t be an increase in patients after all. Whereas many uninsured people now utilize hospital emergency rooms for primary care, they will now shift to private practitioners. This shift may not have any impact at all on claims, but may impact who the claims will impact.

A third possibility is that medical malpractice claims will actually decrease because Obamacare not only provides health insurance to the uninsured, but eliminates the co-pays and deductibles for essential healthcare benefits. As a result, people will be receiving more preventative care, will be less likely to develop long-term problems, and will make it easier for health care providers to address medical conditions before they become serious.

Of course, since the act is still being implemented – and there’s no telling if or how it will change along the way – we can’t be sure which outcome will result. Whatever the circumstances, one thing is for sure: the Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyers of the Leto Law Firm will be here to help. Justin Leto has consistently been recognized as one of South Florida’s most effective attorneys, so you can rest assured that his professional and experienced team will be prepared to handle your case effectively.

Ohio transplant case shows the limits placed on medical malpractice recovery



University of Toledo Medical Center, a hospital situated in Toledo, Ohio, is denying a family’s allegations of medical negligence after a hospital nurse accidentally threw out a viable kidney donated to a Toledo woman by her younger brother in August 2012. The botched kidney transplant was originally scheduled for August 10, 2012, before the temperature-controlled slush containing the kidney was mistakenly tossed out. The hospital found another kidney for Sarah Fudacz and paid for her transportation to Colorado to receive surgery November 13, 2012. However, Sarah Fudacz, and her family-consisting of eight members- are suing the hospital for additional damages of about $25,000 each, citing medical negligence and loss of consortium.


A complaint by the siblings and their family alleged the facility was negligent , causing physical and emotional suffering for the patients and emotional distress for the parents. “Sarah seeks damages she has suffered and will continue to suffer due to the loss of Paul Jr.’s [her brother], perfect kidney. Paul Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with one kidney, all in vain,” the suit reads. The hospital, in documents filed Tuesday, sought dismissal of the case, specifically requesting to dismiss the counts involving the relatives’ alleged losses. It argued that Ohio law “doesn’t provide for parents and siblings of an affected adult to recover damages for such losses.” There is no word on how much the family has been compensated thus far.


One of the main issues raised by this sad case is the issue of who is permitted to recover for a loss when someone is the victim of medical malpractice. In Florida, the laws are tailored to limit the recovery of family members affected by a loved one’s medical malpractice injuries. This is especially true when medical malpractice leads to wrongful death. Whereas in a car accident, if the victim is an unmarried adult at the time of death, the victim’s lineal descendants can pursue a claim. This means that the parents of an unmarried adult with no children can pursue the claim for that victim’s wrongful death. However, when someone is the victim of medical malpractice and dies as a result, the only people that can recover for that wrongful death are (a) the person’s spouse or (b) the person’s children under the age of 25 years old. If the victim of medical malpractice is over 25 years of age, is unmarried and has no children under the age of 25, no one can seek to pursue a claim for that victim’s wrongful death.


While the case in Ohio does not involve death, it still speaks to the limitations that many states place on medical malpractice claims. This is an effort by most state legislatures to limit the medical malpractice claims filed against hospitals and doctors. The excuse for these unfair and likely unconstitutional laws is that there is a healthcare crisis and the only way to stop it is to end medical malpractice claims. Unfortunately, many of the people that attempt to bring claims for the losses of their loved ones and find out the laws prevent their claims voted for the very laws that now restrict their access to the courts.


The Leto Law Firm, founded by Justin Leto, specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, commercial litigation, traumatic brain injury cases, appeals and auto accidents. Visit our website at to learn about the our vast list of practice areas, access legal resources, and see the results of prior court cases undertaken by the firm. For more information on Personal Injury Miami, send an email to

Gay Married Couples Can Now File Joint Taxes According to IRS regardless of discriminatory state laws

The Treasury Department has announced Thursday that, starting September 16th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will recognize same-sex marriages, allowing them to file joint federal tax returns. This includes couples that have moved to states that do not permit same-sex marriages, though, depending on state laws, they may have to file their state tax returns as if they were not married.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new rules, implemented following the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, demolishing the portion of DOMA that prohibited federal laws from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples, will provide “clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide.” The high court ruling came in a case filed by Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The Supreme Court held DOMA to be unconstitutional, a direct rebuke of the law instituted under President Bill Clinton.

These new Treasury-Internal Revenue Service guidelines will apply to all federal taxes, including income, gift and estate taxes, and affect personal and dependent exemptions and deductions, employee benefits, IRA contributions and tax credits. For some couples, the biggest financial benefit will be the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance, which many same-sex spouses previously bought on an after-tax basis. That could be worth more than $1,000 per couple. Not all couples will benefit, however, as some may pay higher income taxes as a result of the “marriage penalty.”

The Leto Law Firm has fought on the side of same-sex couples in many cases. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, The Leto Law Firm attempted to invalidate the discriminatory Florida law which does not allow same sex couples to file claims for loss of support and services of their partners. Unfortunately, the rigid and discriminatory laws of Florida prevented that claim from proceeding.

However, more recently, The Leto Law Firm filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a gay man and his husband. That case involves a man that suffered serious and disabling neurological injuries following a botched hip replacement. The injured man is legally married to a man under the laws of Massachusetts. Under Florida law, spouses are entitled to claims for losses of the support and services of an injured spouse. However, Florida presently discriminates against gay married couples, even if they are legally married in another state. We intend to fight to protect this couple so they can enjoy the same rights as any other married couple.

Visit for the latest in legal news, posted regularly in our Blog section. Contact us with any questions on our services via email at, or by calling 305-577-8448.

Jonathan M. Hixon of The Leto Law Firm Associate Admitted to Practice in Southern and Middle District of Florida

The Leto Law Firm is proud to congratulate associate, Jonathan M. Hixon, who has recently been admitted to practice in the Southern District of Florida and Middle District of Florida federal courts. Mr. Hixon’s admission to these two federal courts allow for him to expand his practice to more complex federal matter in addition to his State Court work. Since being admitted to the Southern and Middle District, Mr. Hixon has worked on federal cases involving Civil RICO, federal maritime, judicial review of federal agency determinations, federal credit union foreclosure, insurance coverage disputes, and diversity actions.

Jonathan M. Hixon has been with our firm since August 2012, and specializes in commercial litigation, personal injury, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, product liability, medical malpractice, maritime litigation, insurance coverage disputes, and appellate advocacy. Mr. Hixon first started with The Leto Law Firm as a law clerk during his final year of law school. He received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law, where he achieved “Honors” in the Litigation Skills Program and taught classes on law and government to students at Miami Senior High School as the Hunton & Williams Fellow for the Miami Street Law Program. Mr. Hixon also boasts experience clerking for notable criminal defense and appellate firm Hirschhorn & Bieber, P.A. and the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. Born in Boston, Massachussetts, Mr. Hixon moved to Washington, D.C. to attend The George Washington University and received his bachelor’s degree in 2008.

Visit our website at to learn about the our vast list of practice areas, access legal resources, and see the results of prior court cases undertaken by the firm. Get in contact with Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Justin Leto by calling 305-577-8448, or send an email to