The partners and staff of Wilkofsky, Friedman, Karel & Cummins have won unprecedented property damage verdicts in the millions of dollars and are responsible for numerous landmark decisions which have enhanced the rights of consumers in confronting insurance company misconduct. This history of success has served our clients well. We have regularly won compensation for the losses, damage and pain they have suffered. We take great pride in the contributions we have made to improving our clients’ lives. We are proud as well of the positive influence we have had on the insurance industry.
Jonathan J. Wilkofsky is our founding and managing partner. He has been litigating insurance coverage and property damage claims for over 33 years. He has represented victims of catastrophes occurring all over the world including the“Monrovia Fires” in West Africa as well as one of the largest gas pipeline explosions in the country in the“Hellgate” case, which lead to a multi- million dollar settlement during trial. Mr. Wilkofsky, who has yet to lose a jury verdict, has represented several thousand victims of insurance company misconduct.
Mr. Wilkofsky was lead counsel in the matter of Riordan v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company. That case, tried before the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York and argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, was the first case in the history of the State of New York where an insured successfully prevailed against an insurance carrier for attorneys’ fees and punitive damages for deceptive acts and practices.
Additionally, Mr. Wilkofsky was lead trial counsel in Newark Center Building Co. adv. Atlas Assurance Company, which represents one of the largest property damage verdicts in New York Supreme Court history at 12.6 million dollars. The case involved the asbestos contamination and resulting abandonment of the former New Jersey state office building in Newark, New Jersey.
Mr. Wilkofsky won a verdict in excess of $1 million against Allstate Insurance Company for damage caused to a home by a supersonic Concorde aircraft taking off from JFK. The trial involved the testimony of six engineers and required proof that sonic energy had cracked a steel and concrete waterfront home from more than three miles away.
Mr. Wilkofsky has been the Executive Director and General Counsel of the New York Public Adjusters Association since 1994 and the New Jersey Public Adjusters Association since its founding in 2005.
Mr. Wilkofsky has also drafted insurance related legislation and insurance regulations to better protect the consumer. In 2014 Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation proposed and championed by Mr. Wilkofsky which clarifies that scope of loss is appraisable
in New York. This legislation will significantly benefit generations of insurance consumers. In 2010, Governor Paterson signed a bill drafted by Mr. Wilkofsky creating an expedited special proceeding to enforce the insurance policy’s appraisal provision. He has also drafted and spearheaded the passage of legislation requiring language to be added to every property policy issued in New York which mandates the insurance company to share their experts’ reports upon demand by the insured. (Insurance Law §3407(a)). The bill was signed into law by Gov. Pataki on September 15, 2001. Mr. Wilkofsky drafted and lobbied for the passage of a law requiring minimum standards and mandatory continuing education for insurance adjusters which passed the legislature and was signed by Gov. Pataki in 1998.
He has lectured for the New York State Bar Association on the subject of trial tactics, and has spoken on the subjects of“The Appraisal Process” and the role of the public adjuster in the adjustment process and the Insurance Laws and Regulations of New York. He is also the author of the legal treatise, The Law and Procedure of Insurance Appraisal for which he received the 2004 Cordish Writing Award from the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. The Third Edition is scheduled for publication in 2015. In December, 2007 Mr. Wilkofsky was named Person of the Year by the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.
In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Wilkofsky ws named to the Superlawyers’ annual list of top attorneys and was also listed in the top 100 trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Among the leading voices for consumers in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Mr. Wilkofsky was invited to testify on behalf of consumers at the legislative hearings investigating the insurance industry’s response to the storm and at the roundtables held by the New York State Assembly Insurance Committee thereafter.
MARK L. FRIEDMAN
As senior trial partner, Mark Friedman has been litigating insurance-related cases for over 35 years. During this time, he has successfully protected policyholders against false claims of arson and fraud in hundreds of jury trials in state and federal court. He has also assisted countless disabled individuals in obtaining disability benefits which were wrongfully withheld by insurance carriers, including UnumProvident and Paul Revere. As an outgrowth of this practice, Mr. Friedman also pursues class actions against insurance carriers for widespread abuses against the public at large. He was lead counsel in a novel class action where
State Farm was found to have improperly withheld “profit and overhead” in their payment of policyholders’ losses, depriving countless insureds of benefits which they paid for when they purchased their policies. He is currently lead counsel in a class action against Tri-State Consumers Insurance Company for unethical claims abuses involving its policyholders. Mr. Friedman has also successfully represented the New York State Public Adjusters Association in lawsuits and appeals on vital issues ranging from insurers’ improper attempts at expanding policy exclusions and definitions and limiting consequential damages to the carriers’ efforts at refusing payment to innocent co-insureds. In 2013, he was also successful in having the Court of Appeals expand the contractual limitations period beyond 2 years in situations where it is impossible for a policyholder to complete repairs in that period. Executive Plaza v. Peerless Ins. Co.
In 2008, Mark authored the winning appellate brief on behalf of the consumer’s perspective in the landmark case of Bi-Economy Market, Inc. v. Harleysville Ins. Co. In that case, New York’s highest court upheld the right of policyholders to have their insurance companies investigate claims fairly, promptly and in good faith. When an insured suffers additional damages as a result of a carrier’s excessive delay or improper denial, insurers are now responsible for those consequential damages.
Mark Friedman has been involved as trial counsel in several multi-million dollar verdicts and decisions and has obtained hard-fought awards of punitive damages in several of them. His experience transcends trial advocacy to include appeals where he has authored and argued numerous appeals both for individual causes and on behalf of Amicus Curiae in insurance- related cases on behalf of the policyholder. He is also involved in North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida in an ongoing effort to protect policyholders’ rights arising out of hurricane and flood losses in those states. He is currently handling several multi-million dollar cases on Long Island arising out of Superstorm Sandy. Mr. Friedman is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and began his career in criminal law providing the rich underpinning of his present practice.
DAVID B. KAREL
David Karel began his career as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Economic Crimes and Arson Bureau of the Office of the District Attorney of Kings County. As senior trial partner with WFK&C this hardworking and insightful attorney has developed expertise in first-party insurance, property damage, and disability insurance matters. In addition, Mr. Karel litigates the firm’s construction matters and economic claims, as well as representing clients in commercial litigation, discrimination and malpractice claims.
Mr. Karel has briefed and argued numerous appeals before many appellate courts including the New York State Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, primarily on insurance and property damage issues. His extensive litigation background includes experience in matters in the States of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Mississippi, and in the Federal Courts.
David Karel has represented numerous building owners, co-ops and condominium boards, and their owners/lessees, protecting their interests including insurance and licensing agreements. Mr. Karel has lectured on behalf of The New York State Bar Association, the New York Public Adjusters Association, and the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. He has written and lectured on the topic of Ethics in Public Adjusting, Condominium and Co-op insurance issues and claims, and first-party mold claims.
Mr. Karel obtained his Juris Doctor from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and obtained an L.L.M. in Taxation from New York University. His background provides our clients with the savvy experience and knowledge needed in today’s world.
HARRY A. CUMMINS
Harry A. Cummins has been litigating first and third-party property cases on behalf of victims for the past 28 years. Mr. Cummins also handles errors and omissions litigation involving insurance brokers. When Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast, he helped establish the firm’s office in Louisiana and represented clients in that region who have suffered catastrophic losses.
Mr.Cummins represents a number of residential and commercial building owners, providing advice on insurance coverage issues as well as handling coverage litigation with their liability insurers with respect to issues of defense and indemnification. Mr. Cummins has briefed and argued numerous appeals in the areas of insurance coverage, property damage and insurance broker liability.
A graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton and New York Law School, Mr. Cummins is admitted to practice in the state courts of New York and New Jersey, as well as the United States District Courts for the Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of New York, United States District Court for New Jersey and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and oversees the firm’s day to day operations in those states. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the New York Trial Lawyers Association.
Roman Rabinovich, a senior associate with the firm, focuses his practice on issues involving insurance coverage claims on behalf of policyholders; defense of general liability claims against business and property owners, contractors and insurance industry professionals. Mr. Rabinovich represents coops and condominium boards, as well as individual owners/shareholders in claims against their insurance carriers and tortfeasors. Additionally, Mr. Rabinovich represents clients in matters involving disability and ERISA claims, as well as victims of motor vehicle accidents, trip and fall and construction site accidents.
Mr. Rabinovich has spoken at town-hall meetings regarding Superstorm Sandy and has appeared on behalf of the consumer perspective at several round table meetings held by the Chairman of the New York State Assembly Insurance Committee to address specific insurance issues in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Mr. Rabinovich received his B.B.A. from Baruch College, magna cum laude, and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where he was the recipient of the prestigious CALI award for Excellence in Legal Writing. Mr. Rabinovich served as a junior law clerk to the Honorable David Trager of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal trial courts in New York and New Jersey, and is a member of the American Bar Association, and the New York State Bar Association.
Mr. Rabinovich’s thoughtful and no-nonsense approach to litigation has been well known for many years, as evidenced by his recent selection by SuperLawyers as a NY Metro Rising Star, as well as testimonials from many satisfied clients in New York and New Jersey.
Andrea Jones-D’Auvergne has been a valued member of our staff since 1994. She is a graduate, with honors, from the Technical Career Institute and has a degree in Applied Science and Office Technology. With almost 20 years of experience serving our clients and supporting the legal staff, Ms. Jones-D’Auvergne assumed the office manager’s position in 2011 and brings her vast knowledge of court rules, electronic court filing systems, office systems and procedures and office administration to the position. She is also responsible for supervising and managing the firm’s extensive libraries, computer and data management systems, and the physical plant and equipment to support the firm’s day to day operations.
Her energy, intellect and empathy have long benefitted our clients and staff.
Desi Parasol is Assistant to Managing Partner, Jonathan Wilkofsky. Since coming on board in 2008, she has firmly established herself as an invaluable resource applying her understanding of insurance law, litigation, and court procedures. The skills, experience and energy she brings to the table have been of significant assistance and re-assurance to the firm’s clients. As the long time assistant to David Karel, Senior Litigation Partner, she established her dedication to the firm’s mission on behalf of our clients on a daily basis. Desi is well the administrator of the New York Public Adjusters Association and New Jersey Public Adjusters Association which seek to advance the interests of insurance consumers and the adjusting industry.
R. Ray Orrill
Lesley E. Little
Lesley E. Little is of counsel to the firm and manages our Texas practice. During his 20-year legal career, Lesley Little has represented individuals and organizations in a variety of litigation at the state and federal levels. His case experience includes first party insurance and coverage, product liability, wrongful death, personal injury and securities litigation. He has been the lead attorney in numerous cases involving multimillion dollar verdicts or settlements.
Prior to joining Buck, Keenan, Gage, Little & Lindley in 2001, Mr. Little was a shareholder with Little & Baird. He received his bachelor of business administration degree from Southern Methodist University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas Litigation and Insurance and Insurance sections. Mr. Little is on the board of directors for The River Performing and Visual Arts Center and a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. Mr. Little is admitted to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas and U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas.
Keith A. Seldin
Leslie Jones Thomas
Leslie Jones Thomas was born in Brooklyn, New York. At 17 years of age she went to work as a legal stenographer, legal typist, telecopier and eventually became a corporate paralegal at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. In 1980, Ms. Jones Thomas earned her B.A. in Political Science at Oglethorpe University. At Oglethorpe, Ms. Jones Thomas was a recipient of the Oglethorpe University Merit Scholarship for 4 years and the Leopold Schepp Scholarship for 3 years. She served as the Salutatorian of her class, graduating cum laude with distinction in Political Science & History. Ms. Jones Thomas graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983. During her tenure at Georgetown she was a recipient of the Leopold Schepp Scholarship and she served as the Mid-East Regional Secretary of BALSA (now known as BLSA). During her summers and holiday recesses, she worked first for the Washington Lawyers for Civil Rights Under the Law, then continued to work for the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and for Amy Robertson Goldson Esq., who was the first General Counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus and a solo practitioner specializing in entertainment, sports, corporate, legislative and tax law.
Ms. Jones Thomas began her professional legal career at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, where she served as an Assistant District Attorney for eight years under District Attorneys, Mario Merola and Robert T. Johnson. During her tenure as a Bronx ADA, she worked on special assignment for Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Sterling Johnson prosecuting major drug offenders, violent felons, conducting wiretap and long term investigations on major cases while interfacing with the DEA, Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms and other federal agencies involved in drug and weapons enforcement.
Ms. Jones Thomas has been in private practice for twenty-three years specializing in the areas of federal/state criminal defense, matrimonial, family and civil litigation on behalf of individuals, companies and corporations. She is the immediate past Director of the National Bar Association Region II. In 2013, Ms. Jones Thomas was honored as a top Solo by the NBA Small Firms/Solo Practitioner’s Section. Ms. Jones Thomas was honored for stalwart service to the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Ms. Jones Thomas is a Past President of the Association of Black Women Attorneys, is an active member of the MBBA, ABA,New York City Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, New York Women’s Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association, Bronx Black Bar Association, New York Criminal Bar Association and NYS Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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