Daniel M. NovigrodManaging Partner/ Miami
Email Daniel at DNovigrod@hightowerlaw.net
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”.
Daniel Novigrod was born in South Texas and raised in Los Angeles, California, where he participated in board sports, on land, sea, and snow. Participation in solo sports helped Dan develop a personal drive to excel that has continued throughout his life and has served him well in the practice of law. Dan has been practicing law in Miami-Dade and the surrounding counties for many years. In that time he has garnered a great reputation amongst his peers as well as the judges in front of whom he practices.
Dan attended the University Of Miami School Of Law showing an aptitude for courtroom advocacy, winning his first year Moot Court Competition. His interest in courtroom advocacy led him to pursue and obtain a highly coveted position as an Assistant Public Defender for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami, trying cases for indigent criminal defendants. In 2007, Dan joined the Hightower Law Firm because of its well-established reputation for representation of industry leading companies through strong trial advocacy. Since joining the firm, Dan’s drive and determination distinguished him amongst his peers earning him partnership in the firm.
As a Partner, and throughout his career with the firm, Dan has had the privilege of representing industry leaders and has established excellent relationships with their risk managers. He effectively defends major corporations and insured individuals in various types of civil cases including automobile negligence, construction defect, libel/slander/defamation, negligent security, premises liability, products liability, property damage, restaurant liability, and subrogation and insurance coverage issues.
In 2016, Florida Trend magazine awarded the prestigious Legal Elite® honor to Dan. He was voted by his peers for this honor and the accolade is given to those who stand-out in the legal field. This prestigious list represents less than 2% of active Florida Bar members. Also, Dan has been named several times as a “Rising Star” and recently a “Super Lawyer” in Super Lawyers© Magazine.
Away from the office, Dan enjoys fitness activities, as a counterpoint to his love of travel and indulging in foreign cuisine. He still enjoys surfing and being out on the water in any capacity.
JOAN AND DAVID USHKOW v. EDEN ROC HOTEL/MARRIOTT
Trip and Fall/Frozen Shoulder/Defense Verdict
Plaintiff, a sympathetic 72 year old woman (age 77 at trial), attended the wedding of her grandson at the Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach. As part of the wedding decorations, chiffon swag had been draped from chair to chair at the end of each row by an outside decorations company, in order to prevent guests from exiting the row down the wedding party’s aisle. After the post-ceremony celebration, the draping had fallen to the floor, and the Plaintiff attempted to exit her row by stepping over the swag. Plaintiff’s foot became tangled in the draping and she tripped, falling to the floor and suffering a fracture to the humeral neck and a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder.
Partners, Daniel Novigrod Esq., and Lee Kantor, Esq., represented Eden Roc/Marriott at trial, arguing that the Plaintiff tripped and fell over an open and obvious condition. Plaintiff argued that she did not trip, but slipped on the satin wedding runner, which ran down the wedding aisle, which she claimed was a hidden defect.
Plaintiff argued that Eden Roc/Marriott was negligent by permitting the outside vendor to lay the runner without securing it to the carpeting on all sides. Plaintiff attempted to prove that the wedding runner violated the 2007 Florida Building Code pertaining to Means of Ingress and Egress, the Florida Life Safety and Fire Protection Code pertaining to Slip Resistant Walking Surfaces, and the American Society of Testing and Materials Code pertaining to Rugs, Mats and Carpets. Plaintiff went so far as to call an acclaimed architect George Zimmerman to testify as to the alleged violations of the aforementioned codes.
Plaintiff further attempted to prove her case by establishing that Eden Roc/Marriott did not supervise the wedding décor company, despite the fact that the company had worked with Marriott on a number of occasions without incident. Plaintiff elicited testimony from a number of wedding guests, all of whom testified that the Plaintiff slipped on the runner. In total, Plaintiff called 14 expert and lay witnesses. Plaintiff’s witnesses included Plaintiff’s treating physician, Dr. Kumar Kadiyala, who testified as to the Plaintiff’s injury and resulting surgery, Plaintiff’s non-treating expert orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Jacobs, who assessed the Plaintiff a 50% impairment rating and Plaintiff’s Life Care Planner and Rehabilitation expert Ira Morris, who testified as to the cost of Plaintiff’s care.
Mr. Novigrod and Mr. Kantor were able to damage the credibility of the percipient witnesses by questioning their vantage, and recollection of the events in question and by eliciting testimony from the Plaintiff herself that she, in fact, tripped over the fallen draping. Moreover, Marriott’s counsel challenged the veracity of Plaintiff’s claimed damages and called in to question the validity of the alleged code violations.
Plaintiff sought a total of $3.4 million in damages, which included $26,000 in past medical bills, $300,000 in future medical bills, $1 million in past pain and suffering, and $1.5 million in future pain and suffering. The total also included Plaintiff’s husband’s loss of past consortium claim of $250,000 and loss of future consortium claim of $350,000. TRIAL RESULTS: DEFENSE VERDICT
MARK D. JOHNSON v. U.S. SECURITY ASSOCIATES, INC.
Malicious Prosecution & False Imprisonment // Prosecutor stopped for shoplifting
On February 24, 2005, the Plaintiff, a prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office was stopped in a Publix Supermarket by the Defendant’s loss prevention personnel under suspicion of shoplifting. He allegedly took Astroglide personal lubricant and Boston contact lens cleaner out of their boxes and placed the contents in his blazer before walking out of the store without paying. He was questioned by store personnel for a short period of time, but the Plaintiff left the store before the police arrived and he never turned back. The Defendant’s loss prevention officer ultimately gave statements to the police and cooperated in the prosecution of the Plaintiff for retail theft and resisting a merchant.
Due to the Plaintiff’s position as a top law enforcement official, he was suspended without pay from his job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and was allegedly forced to resign. He claimed more than $2.4 Million in economic damages from losing his job, benefits and retirement, plus additional damage to his reputation in the community.
At his criminal trial (heard by a Judge instead of a jury) he claimed he had picked up a box which was empty and had an empty box nested inside of it. He then decided to throw the two empty boxes on the floor in the rear corner of the store by the beer cooler before leaving the store. He denied ever handling or stealing either product. Faced with such a creative story, the criminal Judge found him “not innocent, but not guilty”.
The Plaintiff then filed this civil suit against U.S. Security Associates, Inc. claiming that the loss prevention officer lied about seeing a theft and lied to the police and the criminal court. He claimed to be intimidated and imprisoned when being questioned by store personnel. He also asserted a civil RICO claim alleging that Publix, Wackenhut and U.S. Security had a practice of extorting money from suspected shoplifters by using a “civil recovery” process to levy civil fines. The Defense won Summary Judgment on the civil RICO claims and proceeded to trial on the malicious prosecution and false imprisonment claims. The Defense highlighted the Plaintiff’s illogical and suspicious story, and further asserted that it had probable cause at all times to believe that a theft had occurred. TRIAL RESULTS: DEFENSE VERDICT
HOFFMAN v. RITZ-CARLTON/TRIAL
Plaintiff, an 82 year old man, two weeks post total left hip replacement, was entering the main entrance of the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach when he tripped on an allegedly negligently placed and maintained floor mat. Plaintiff was diagnosed with fractures to his left hip and pelvis. Plaintiff testified that he was incapacitated for 8 months following his fall. Plaintiff’s hip-replacement surgeon, Dr. Robert Zann, testified that Plaintiff’s current pain was not caused by his hip replacement, and more likely caused by his fractures.
The Defense argued that the security video showed the mat was not folded or buckled and did not otherwise present a tripping hazard. The video also showed that Plaintiff waived off assistance from the valet, was leaning on his cane for assistance, and was shuffling his feet, which got caught under the mat. The Defense further argued that Plaintiff, with a history of left total hip replacement, right hip arthritis, lower back pain, leg weakness, dizziness, and vertigo, should have been using a walker as prescribed by his doctor. Moreover, several Ritz personnel testified that the mat was in good condition and was placed for safety in addition to its aesthetic appeal. Plaintiff asked jury to award $305,000. Jury returned with a DEFENSE VERDICT.
WARNICK v. SOUTH BEACH MARRIOTT-TRIAL
In this Miami-Dade case, Mr. Novigrod represented Marriott Hotels on a premises liability claim for negligent maintenance of a toilet seat. Plaintiff claimed that he sat down in the lobby restroom and the toilet seat shifted, and his testicles got crushed between the seat and the porcelain bowl. He was taken by ambulance to the local hospital, and later treated in Vermont by doctors who diagnosed him with RSD. Plaintiff had been wheelchair-bound for about 4 years prior to the trial. Plaintiff total medical bills were approximately $65,000 and future life care plan totaled over $1.6 million. Plaintiff asked for $3.5 million from the jury. Jury returned with a DEFENSE VERDICT.
Underwriter’s at Interest v. Waste Management, Inc. of Florida – Trial
Plaintiff, Insurance Company, sued Waste Management alleging that one of its vehicles struck power lines behind Plaintiff’s insured’s antique’s store. The foregoing incident caused a fire inside the antiques store, resulting in approximately $500,000.00 in damages. Waste Management maintained that the eye-witnesses were not credible, and that the downed power lines were caused by a combination of severe weather and overgrown trees. After a one week trial, the jury delivered a defense verdict.
Personal Injury Plaintiff v. Automobile Insurance Company – Settlement
Plaintiff, sued his own insurance carrier after he was rear-ended by an under-insured driver. Our client Metropolitan Insurance Company was liable to pay Underinsured Motorist benefits up to $100,000.00. Plaintiff, alleged cervical and lumbar spine pain which radiated to both his arms and legs. After hours of mediation, Plaintiff would not accept less than $25,000.00, which resulted in an impasse. The following day, Plaintiff accepted the $5,000.00 offered by our client at mediation.
Automobile Insurance Company v. Truck Leasing Company, et. al. – Settlement
Automobile Insurance Company sued our client Truck Leasing Company and other business entities represented by our Hightower, Stratton, Novigrod & Kantor; Truck Leasing Company tendered its defense to our client. Plaintiff alleged that our client negligently caused his tractor trailer to collide with Plaintiff’s insured’s car. We answered Plaintiff’s complaint and filed a countersuit. At the conclusion of discovery, Plaintiff dismissed its case against all Defendants, and took nothing. Moreover, Plaintiff issued payment to our client in response to our counter-suit.