Litigation Departments of the Year

From Boutique to Litigation Outlet

Javerbaum Wurgaft has expanded geographically and extended its capabilities

New Jersey Law Journal

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Based in Springfield, Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins has grown from three lawyers when it was founded in 1978, to between six and eight lawyers for many years up until 2007, to more than 30 lawyers today. It has developed into a multivariegated litigation firm, though personal injury remains its core practice.

In January 2013, the firm moved into new office space at 505 Morris Avenue in Springfield, which has allowed consolidation of its operations: 21 of the firm's lawyers now are primarily based there. The firm also maintains offices in Newark, Freehold, Elizabeth and Manhattan.

Javerbaum Wurgaft traditionally has handled personal-injury and workers-compensation matters. Today it is a litigation boutique that, while still primarily handling personal injury, also handles various other types of litigation, including employment litigation, commercial litigation, criminal defense, estate litigation and litigation involving children and adults with disabilities.

Last year was a banner year for the firm. It began with Eric Kahn and Rubin Sinins obtaining a $20 million verdict in Union County Superior Court in a lawsuit filed on behalf of five co-workers against a sixth co-worker over a disputed lottery pool. The year ended with a verdict obtained by Jack Wurgaft and Eric Kahn in the amount of $16.344 million against the Irvington Board of Education on behalf of a student who was assaulted and severely injured by another student during summer school. These were two of the largest verdicts in the state in 2012, and the lottery verdict made the National Law Journal's Top 100 list of verdicts for the year.

In between these eight-figure verdicts, several other cases were resolved — in settlements ranging from $1 million and $4 million — by other firm partners, including Robert Hicks, David Wikstrom and Scott Sinins. Additionally, Rubin Sinins and Eric Kahn successfully represented Molly Wei, one of two Rutgers University students accused of invading the privacy of fellow student Tyler Clementi shortly before his suicide; Wei was accepted into the Pretrial Intervention program.

The firm's lawyers are known in the legal community for their leadership and bar activities, and for their participation as speakers at professional seminars and organizations focused on trial practice.

Javerbaum Wurgaft by the Numbers
  Firm-wide N.J. Office
Department Size 30 30
Department as percentage of firm (head-count) 100% 100%
Department as percentage of firm (revenue) 100% 100%

 

Major Litigators:

• Kenneth Javerbaum (partner, Springfield, 1966) — co-founded the firm with Jack Wurgaft in 1978; has been representing clients in personal-injury matters for over four decades; has a record of success including the largest jury verdict in Union County: $10.7 million in Bernoskie v. Zarinsky.

• Jack Wurgaft (partner, Springfield, 1968) — co-founded the firm with Kenneth Javerbaum in 1978; certified civil trial attorney; has a record of successes including a $2.54 million product-liability settlement from Daimler Chrysler on behalf of a child, a $2.6 million settlement on behalf of a high school baseball player struck by lightning, and a $2.6 million verdict on behalf of the family of a man killed in a head-on collision with a truck.

• Robert Hicks (partner, Freehold, 1982) — certified civil trial attorney; recoveries include $1.9 million for the wrongful death of a five-year-old boy who fell from the window of a high-rise apartment building, $1.38 million to the estate of an eight-year-old child who died of post-operative bleeding, $1.5 million from an obstetrician and sonogram technician for failing to detect fetal abnormalities, and $1.75 million for the wife and children of a construction worker killed after being struck by a temporary support.

• Eric Kahn (partner, Springfield, 1993) — has spent his entire career at the firm and currently is managing partner; handles a broad spectrum of significant and complex claims, including automobile negligence, trucking accidents, construction site accidents, product-liability claims, medical-malpractice cases and claims against public entities; represented the estate of Faheem Williams, a seven-year old found dead in his caretaker's basement, obtaining a $7.5 million dollar settlement from the state Division of Youth and Family Services.

• Rubin Sinins (partner, Springfield, 1994) — has wide-ranging litigation experience, including white-collar investigations and employment matters; formerly a litigation associate at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in New York; partner at Newark's Sinins & Bross from 1998 to 2007, when the firm merged with Javerbaum Wurgaft; certified criminal trial attorney.

• David Wikstrom (partner, Springfield, 1994) — represents clients in claims involving legal malpractice, product liability, personal injury and employment discrimination; certified civil trial attorney.

• Scott Sinins (partner, Newark, 1998) — represents clients in auto negligence, premises liability, miscellaneous negligence, wrongful discharge and workers' compensation matters; former partner at Sinins & Bross.

Cases of Note:

Patterson v. Irvington Board of Education, Superior Court, Essex County Law Division — Javerbaum Wurgaft represented the plaintiff in a personal-injury suit in connection with a student-on-student assault that occurred in Irvington High School resulting in permanent injuries to the minor plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged negligence against the Irvington Board of Education for failing to prevent the incident. Following a two-and-a-half-week trial that began on Sept. 14, 2012, a jury verdict was obtained on behalf of the plaintiff in the amount of $16.34 million. The jury found the board 80 percent at fault. A high-low settlement agreement capped the plaintiff's recovery at $10 million.

Estate of William Stark v. Lintz, Superior Court, Middlesex County Law Division — The firm represented the plaintiffs in this medical-malpractice action, over a patient's death from a pulmonary embolism following knee and ankle surgery. Following a five-week trial, a jury verdict was entered on behalf of the plaintiffs against a defendant doctor in the amount of $1.91 million. Prior to the trial, a settlement totaling $825,000 was reached with two other defendant doctors, thereby bringing the total recovery to $2.74 million.

Franklin v. U.S. Wire & Cable, Superior Court, Essex County Law Division — In this product-liability case against the manufacturer of a drop light, Javerbaum Wurgaft represented the plaintiff, who sustained severe burns to his face and hands when fuel oil sprayed out of pipes leading to a fuel-delivery system, causing a drop light to explode and ignite the fuel. Following extensive discovery, the case settled for $3.85 million on Feb. 29, 2012.

Mangual v. Berezinksy, Superior Court, Essex County Law Division — The firm represented the plaintiffs: a man and woman struck by a livery vehicle as they stood beside their disabled car on the shoulder of Interstate 280. They settled with the defendant driver for his policy limit of $200,000 and continued to pursue their claim against the Essex Surgery Center LLC of Hackensack, who had hired the driver to transport patients. The court granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the issue of agency. Essex Surgery Center appealed and the Appellate Division, in a published July 2012 decision, affirmed liability but said agency was a jury question. Following mediation, Essex Surgery Center settled on Dec. 26, 2012, for $2.15 million, bringing the total recovery to $2.35 million.

Fuccile v. Taylor, Superior Court, Hudson County Law Division — The firm represented the plaintiffs in a negligent security suit brought on behalf of a commuter who was stabbed to death in Jersey City by an indigent man as he walked to the train. A lawsuit was filed against the state and a security company. Following mediation, a $2.55 million settlement was reached on Dec. 26, 2012, and finalized and approved in early 2013.

Alvarez v. U.S., U.S. District Court, New Jersey — Javerbaum Wurgaft represented the plaintiff in a wrongful-birth medical-malpractice suit alleging that the child was born with permanent cognitive disabilities because an ultrasound to detect birth defects was administered too early in the pregnancy. Because the defendant was a federal agency, the lawsuit was filed in federal court. Following extensive discovery, a $4 million pretrial settlement was reached in September 2012, approved by the court the next month. •

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