This past year was another exciting year for Vaughan Baio & Partners (VBP) as the firm welcomed ten new attorneys and established an office in Western New York, expanding the firm’s presence across New York State. Partner Danielle Engel launched the new office in Buffalo in March, joining the VBP teams in Albany, New York City and Syracuse. Engel welcomed Serena David as a Partner in Buffalo in November. The two attorneys were in practice together at their previous firm. VBP’s offices in Pennsylvania grew with the addition of Partner Adrienne Anderson and Associates Marissa Hill and Jacob Kratt in Philadelphia, and Greg Fischer in Pittsburgh. Our offices in Florida welcomed new associates in two locations — Donya Alkhatib and Marydenyse Ommert joined in Palm Beach and Sam Earp joined in Sarasota. Associate Lindsay Switzer helped grow the firm’s presence in New Jersey, joining the Atlantic City office. Most recently, Associate Rachael Reeves closed out the 2023 season joining the firm in the Manhattan, NY office.
In the beginning of January 2024, Charli Baldinger joins as we continue to expand and establish another down state New York office; this time on Long Island. Recent American University Washington College of Law graduate, Israel Olawunmi also joins the firm in January and will work with the New York teams. “We are very excited about our continuing growth with these great people,” says Managing Partner Joe Vaughan.
Throughout the year, VBP lawyers were featured in numerous media outlets. Philadelphia Partner Jeff Oster bookended the year as a guest on the podcast “Latte with a Lawyer” in February where he talked about what drew him to the practice of law, and in November, was quoted in Law360 where he explained a concerning strategy being used more frequently by personal injury attorneys to preclude lawsuits from being removed from state to federal courts.
Partner Bola Awujoola, who’s resident in our Albany, New York office, was featured in the Super Lawyers – Upstate New York 2023 issue where he shared his amazing journey of immigrating to America, to build a law practice here and become a U.S. citizen. Born and raised in Nigeria, Bola was already a partner at one of Nigeria’s most prestigious litigation firms. Knowing the path to becoming a lawyer in the U.S. would be difficult, he persevered and passed the New York State Bar exam on his first try in 2019. He achieved his other goal, becoming a U.S. Citizen in 2022.
In November, Palm Beach, Florida Partner Elizabeth Yohe was quoted in the Business Insurance cover story discussing the implications of legal marijuana on the construction industry. Liz shared insights on the safety concerns for employers and insurers and the impact that legalization has had on workers’ compensation claims.
Our attorneys also created insightful content during 2023, covering numerous topics on our website and social media, via our ongoing “Three Things to Know” series. Some of the topics included:
- the important first step of determining average weekly wage, which sets the stage for all awards in workers’ compensation claims;
- common misconceptions surrounding the creation and benefits of placing your assets in a trust;
- what employers and carriers need to know when evaluating compensability of slip and fall claims before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board;
- the importance of the DWC-19 form, also known as the Employee earnings Report, in determining an injured worker’s supplemental income and the potential impact on benefits owed by the employer or carrier; and
- the paramount importance of establishing clear communications with both the insurance carrier and employer regarding workers’ compensation claims.
VBP lawyers were successful in securing a number of important wins for our clients across our footprint. In March, New Jersey Partner Mitch Waldman obtained a defense verdict for our client, a New Jersey restaurateur, in Superior Court of New Jersey, after a five-day trial and jury deliberation for just 90 minutes.
July, September and October brought back-to-back wins for clients in Florida. In July, Sarasota Partner Daniel DeMay scored a major victory when the Judge of Compensation Claims denied a hotly-contested claim for permanent total disability benefits that had been brought by an employee of a nationwide retailer. Dan was also victorious in a complex Florida workers’ compensation case in September, involving a claim brought by a former employee of the State of Florida Department of Corrections. In October, Partner Carols Hernandez and Associate Jane McGill, both based in Palm Beach Gardens, scored a win for our client, the AARP Foundation. The Judge in the case considered the totality of the evidence presented and found that the plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof.
From Managing Partner Joe Vaughan: “In a challenging economic environment, 2023 was a good year. While we’re grateful for that, we never take our eyes off the ball. Our focus continues to be our colleagues and our clients. We strive to support our lawyers, to help them excel to the best of their abilities. We strive to deliver thoughtful, strategic counsel to and representation of our clients that achieves the best possible outcome in every situation. We’re already planning for 2024 and look forward to achieving even greater success in the months ahead.”