Trial Court Cases

July 21, 2015

Baker v. Portnow:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Defendant in an action brought under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is intended to protect disabled individuals from exclusion from the participation in, denial of the benefits of, or discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant, a physician, violated the Rehabilitation Act  by failing to provide sign language interpreters for the Plaintiff, at the Defendant’s expense. The Law Firm of James L. Essenson, on behalf of the Defendant, argued that the requirement to provide such interpreters did not apply because the Defendant employed fewer than fifteen employees, and was thus exempt under applicable regulations. In a case of first impression, the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida agreed with the Essenson Firm’s argument and granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant, dismissing the Plaintiff’s case. In doing so, the Court held that a plaintiff cannot maintain a private cause of action against a healthcare provider with fewer than fifteen employees for failure to provide  auxiliary aids, under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations.


April 13, 2015

Village Plaza Condominium Association, Inc. v. Principe:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Defendant homeowner in an action brought against him by his community association for alleged unpermitted modifications made to his condominium unit, in violation of the community’s Declaration. The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Defendant at trial, and asserted that the association was ‘selectively enforcing’ it’s Declaration against the Defendant. After trial on the matter, the Court found that the Plaintiff had failed to meet its burden of proof on the subject claim and therefore entered judgment in favor of the Defendant. The Defendant condominium association was required to pay a substantial amount of attorney’s fees to the Law Firm of James L. Essenson for defending the homeowner.


March 18, 2014

PS Concepts, Inc. v. Westshore Home Improvement, LLC, Joan Mula and Stephen Walker:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented Plaintiff in an action for monies due and owing pursuant to a standard asset purchase contract. The contract governed the asset sale of Plaintiff’s business to the Defendants in exchange for a promissory note, secured by the collateral assets. Upon default of the note, Plaintiff retained the Law Firm of James L. Essenson to bring suit against the Defendants for the amounts due under the promissory note, and replevin. The Defendants asserted that they did not sign the promissory note in their individual capacities, and were therefore not personally liable for the amounts due thereunder. After a non-jury trial, the Court held the Defendants personally liable, and entered judgment in favor of the Plaintiff for the full amount due under the promissory note, plus prejudgment interest at a rate of 18% per annum, and late fees. The Court further ordered that the Defendants turn over possession of the property to Plaintiff, and pay Plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs.


July 15, 2014

In re: Guardianship of Frances Diielsi:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the guardian on an appeal relating to an underlying guardianship action. After prevailing on the appeal, the Essenson Firm, on behalf of the guardian, petitioned the court for an order authorizing payment of the guardian’s attorney’s fees and costs incurred on appeal. After considering the fee petition filed by the Essenson Firm, the court granted the same and awarded the guardian $10,006.51 as compensation for fees and costs incurred on appeal.


February 20, 2013

Alexandria Christ v. Santa L. Vitanzo:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Plaintiff in an action for partition of real property. On a motion for summary judgment brought by the Essenson Firm on behalf of the Plaintiff, and after a hearing on the same, the Court found in favor of the Plaintiff. As such, the Court ordered partition of the subject property, and directed that 99% of the proceeds of the sale of said property be awarded to the Plaintiff.


August 24, 2011

Maio v. Miller:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented Plaintiff, as executor of Decedent’s estate, in an action against Decedent’s former attorney, Raymond Earl Miller, for damages arising from Miller’s misappropriation of funds held for Decedent in Miller’s Florida Bar Trust Account. The Law Firm of James L. Essenson successfully moved for Final Summary Judgment against Miller, and obtained an order awarding Plaintiff $125,608.85 plus interest.


May 3, 2011

Benz Research and Development Corp. v. Neil W. Sturgis:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented Plaintiff in an action arising from Defendant’s misappropriation of Plaintiff’s trade secrets. Subsequent to Defendant seeking bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, the Law Firm of James L. Essenson, on behalf of Plaintiff, sought a final judgment of nondischargeable debt against the Defendant, alleging the Defendant had destroyed evidence, thus entitling Plaintiff to a presumption that the evidence was unfavorable to Defendant. After a three day bench trial in the Bankruptcy Court, the court agreed with the Law Firm of James L. Essenson and held the Defendant’s actions to be willful, malicious, and intentional, and therefore entered a final judgment against the Defendant in the amount of $195,677.00, plus interest, and ordered the judgment nondischargeable in bankruptcy. The court also ordered a permanent injunction against Defendant in favor of Plaintiff.


January 30, 2007

In re: The Guardianship of Evelyn P. Syprett:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson substituted as counsel for a partially incapacitated Ward while the Ward’s objections to initial guardianship reports were pending, and filed objections to the new initial report (plan) filed by the newly appointed Guardian, which objections were overruled.  In connection with the services rendered to the Ward, the Essenson Firm filed a petition seeking attorney’s fees, which was granted by order. The Guardian’s attorneys sought to vacate the fee order to the Essenson Firm and filed a motion for fees, seeking to sanction the Essenson Firm for the filing of the objection to the initial report.  Ultimately, after a three-day evidentiary hearing, the Court granted the Essenson Firm’s fee petitions and denied the Guardian’s attorneys’ motion for fees and sanctions. In determining the Essenson Firm’s entitlement to fees, the Court, in its 20-page order, cited to a prior appellate case of the Essenson Firm, In Re: Thelma King/Essenson v. Lutheran Services Florida, Inc., in which the Essenson Firm appealed the trial court’s denial of attorney’s fees for representing the Ward therein in the appeal of an order adjudicating her incapacitated. In so citing, the Court’s order in Syprett stated that “[t]he case reaffirmed the statutory right of an incapacitated person to have access to the courts and to counsel [], and established that these rights are due process rights of constitutional dimension.”  The Essenson Firm subsequently prevailed on the Guardian appeal of the Court’s order.


November 18, 2005

Benz Research and Development Corp. v. Dennis J McGillicuddy, et.al.:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Plaintiff, Benz Research and Development Corporation (“BRD”) in a claim seeking the adjudication of the fair value of BRD’s stock held by minority stockholders who were “squeezed out” as a result of a statutory merger. The Defendant was represented by attorneys from Proskauer Rose, LLP, an international law firm headquartered in New York City with over 700 attorneys. The Defendants filed a counterclaim against BRD for breach of fiduciary duty. The parties offered conflicting expert testimony regarding the value of the stock. The Law Firm of James L. Essenson, on behalf of BRD, argued for an aggregate value between $890,204.27 and $1,144,471.00. The Defendants argued for an aggregate value of over four million dollars, far in excess of BRD’s valuation. After trial on the matter, the court found the stock to have an aggregate value of $1,000,000.00, which was within the range argued by the Law Firm of James L. Essenson, on behalf of BRD. In addition, The Court dismissed the Defendant’s counterclaim against BRD.


January 28, 2002

Benz Research and Development Corp. v. Joseph Schwartzinger, et.al.:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Plaintiff, Benz Research and Development Corporation (“BRD”) in an action against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets. After obtaining an Order granting plaintiff’s Motion for Contempt against the Co-Defendant, Sterling International Technologies, Inc. (“Sterling”), the Law Firm of James L. Essenson obtained a sanction award for the Plaintiff, BRD, in the amount of $93,839.10 against the Co-Defendant, Sterling, for discovery violations.


Lampman v. American Motors:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented Plaintiff, a steelworker injured as a result of a defective seatbelt in an American Motors AMC Pacer automobile. In week five of a jury trial in Buffalo, New York, the Law Firm of James L. Essenson entered into a settlement, on behalf of Plaintiff, for an undisclosed amount.


Butera v. Boczar, M.D.:

The Law Firm of James L. Essenson represented the Plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit against Plaintiff’s former doctor. After performing laproscopic surgery on the Plaintiff, Defendant negligently discharged the Plaintiff, despite indications of post-operative complications, resulting in further complications and deterioration of the Plaintiff’s condition requiring further medical intervention and treatment. After a five day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff.