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Hach & Rose, LLP

Spotlight on Christopher Cellante

Christopher Cellante is an attorney with Hach & Rose, LLP. He represents clients who were injured catastrophically.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

My uncle, Angel Perez, was a criminal defense attorney in the Bronx. Though he has passed away, he continues to inspire me in all aspects of my work, including fierce advocacy at trial.

What practice areas do you focus on?

I focus on motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, and wrongful death. My clients typically have sustained serious, catastrophic injuries, and I’m honored to help these victims.

Tell us about your most interesting or significant case.

One case that I found particularly interesting involved an individual who had stolen an NYPD police cruiser and taken it for a high-speed joyride, resulting in a significant collision and severe injuries. Another interesting case involved an assault committed by a police horse resulting in an amputation. Those factual scenarios presented unique legal issues.

Additionally, litigating cases involving traumatic brain injury (TBI) is fascinating to me. Many injuries can have a significant impact on a victim’s life, but the impact of a TBI is far reaching. Also, much of the damages and limitations stemming from TBI are difficult to prove due to the cognitive and subjective nature of the injury. I know my clients need support after their TBI, and I am determined to obtain the compensation they deserve for their loss of function and cognitive deficits.

What are you most proud of, professionally or personally?

Professionally, I am most proud of working as a trial attorney on high exposure cases and following in the footsteps of my trial attorney uncle, Angel Perez. I was also honored to receive the Division Chief Award from the City of New York for my advocacy while working as an Assistant Corporation Counsel on personal injury matters. Personally, I’m proud of my family and how close we are. I have a very tight-knit and supportive family who all live in New York. My parents are incredible, their work ethic is inspiring, and I’m grateful that they encouraged me all through law school.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies, or a fun fact?

I love to fish! Typically, this involves deep sea fishing off the coast of Florida for king fish, trigger fish, and grouper. I have also seen every James Bond movie.

What is your favorite quote?

“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.” – Vince Lombardi

Paralegal Amanda Lyons Reaches One Year Anniversary of Her Charity, Amanda Donates

Amanda Donates, the charity run by our very own paralegal Amanda Lyons, has reached its one-year anniversary! To commemorate this great achievement, we chatted with her about her experience has been like.

What has it been like to run a charity for the first time?

It has definitely been a challenging balance! Not only am I a paralegal at Hach & Rose, LLP, but I’m also going to law school. It’s been tough, but it’s such an important cause and I always find time to make it happen.

I’ve also been trying to figure out the best route to take Amanda Donates in. We’ve recently decided to start the process of filing as a 501c3, which would register us officially as a nonprofit and grant us tax-exempt status. It will open a lot of doors for us, which is great.

What is it like to serve the community?

Making personal connections with the community is my favorite thing about Amanda Donates. Over the past year, I’ve been working hard to figure out how I can make the biggest impact. When we first started, we changed the location of our food pantry every month so we could donate to different areas. But we found that to be difficult; since we were never in the same place consistently, the community couldn’t get used to relying on us. Additionally, once quarantine ended and businesses started to open again, moving around became more difficult because we now need permits to host our events. With everything shut down that wasn’t a problem, but it’s not the same anymore. So I decided to settle on one location, P.S. 124 in Brooklyn, for the time being. Now we see the same people each month and we can really start to get to know them. Being in the same place we’ve been able to better serve the community, because I know what their particular needs are. Also, since we’re there each month, the local businesses are starting to take an interest in what we’re doing, and we can build relationships with them.

All of this to say, the learning curve we’ve experienced over the past year has led to some great changes. Staying in one place has really allowed us to get to know the neighborhood.

What do you enjoy most about the effort and time you have dedicated to giving back?

Seeing the impact that Amanda Donates has had on the community is amazing to experience. I’ve gotten to hear firsthand stories from members of the community and really learn about what they’re going through. I also love that being in one location each month means that people can rely on us. I can tell a new visitor that they can count on us being here at the same place next month, so they can plan to rely on our donations. This also helps us to make an even greater impact, because they can tell their friends and family that we’re here.

What is your mission statement?

Amanda Donates is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. More specifically, Amanda Donates is dedicated to empowering change in surrounding communities by providing goods and services to those that are hungry, facing hardship, or are simply down on their luck.

What have you accomplished over the past year?

It has been an incredibly productive year! So far we’ve accomplished 10 food pantries, supporting our community with essential food and supplies. In addition, we’ve been involved in fundraisers, school supply donation drives, toy drives for the holiday season, monetary donations, and more. I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve so far, and I can’t wait to do even more this year.

What are your plans for this year?

Soon we should get approved as an Incorporated organization, and after that we can start on the application as a 501c3. This should really open some doors for us for corporate donations, because many places are unable to donate unless the organization is a 501c3. We have a significant amount of donations from generous individuals that allow me to run this pantry every month, but it wouldn’t be enough to serve more than one community. Hopefully we can develop relationships with larger corporations who could supplement what we offer. I’d also love to develop a relationship with a wholesaler who could deliver directly to either my home or to our pantry. At the moment I’m doing all of the shopping myself, which limits me to how many things I can get at one time, and my budget would go farther if I could get the supplies at wholesale prices. All of this will hopefully lead to being able to host multiple locations each month, so that we can serve more communities.

Where do you see Amanda Donates going in the future?

It’s really important to me to serve the NYC area, because there are so many people in need here, so I always want Amanda Donates to have roots in NYC and serving this community. But in the future, I’d love to think about serving other countries as well. My goal is to bring Amanda Donates to places we can make a difference on the ground, helping people one-on-one as we always have.

When is your next event, and how can people get involved?

Our next event is on May 15 at P.S. 124 in Brooklyn! We can always use more donations and volunteers. The most useful items are shelf-stable things like rice, pasta, cereal, canned soup, or breakfast foods like oatmeal. Also, microwaveable prepared meals are great as well. We always get a mixture of people who either don’t have full kitchens or have no kitchen access at all, so we really need items that people can eat even without appliances.

We also always need volunteers! If you’d like to get involved in any way, you can contact me at (347) 479-8266, or email me at amandadonates@gmail.com.

2020 Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship Winner

After evaluating hundreds of submissions, we have selected the winner for our Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship for 2020. This year’s winner is a young man named Ben Collier.

When he was 11 years old, Ben lost his father to a string of medical complications that began after a surgeon failed to correctly complete a gastric sleeve operation. The surgeon failed to correctly suture Ben’s father’s stomach after the procedure, resulting in his stomach’s contents leaking into his body, causing severe infection. Ben describes this as “just the first thing that went wrong in a series of unfortunate events.” It seemed that each time the hospital fixed an issue it caused, a new one sprang up. In a matter of days, Ben’s father was put on a ventilator. Soon after, an infection near his colon needed to be drained, a procedure that the doctor described as “no big deal.” A few hours after the infection was drained, Ben’s father went into septic shock, his organs “shutting down by the minute,” as Ben describes it.

His father was taken by helicopter to a trauma hospital, where he saw steady improvements in both his care and condition. After a few months he was able to return home, while attending rehabilitation for all of the trauma his body had been through. Tragically, Ben’s father suddenly fell ill and died. The family soon discovered that the cause of his death was E. coli bacteria in his bloodstream, a tragedy that could have been avoided had the rehabilitation facility taken regular bloodwork as it should have.

Ben grew up without his father as a result of mistakes made by multiple healthcare providers at multiple points in time. Despite such a gut-wrenching setback, Ben graduated high school on the honor roll. He now attends West Texas A&M University, where he studies computer information systems. He says that “Although it has been a struggle not to fall into anger at all of the negligence we have experienced, I am trying my best to use my grief and turn it into doing good for others.”

Spotlight on Aaron Haimowitz

Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Aaron Haimowitz gives insight into why he became a lawyer and who he is.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

In my family, getting an education was extremely important goal and it was not an option. We had a lot of professionals in my family ranging from doctors, accountants, a pharmacist, a college professor, and a few lawyers. I had a great uncle who I looked up to, and he was a lawyer. Like him, I found myself in a lot of debates and I took pride that I always thought quick on my feet. Eventually, I realized that I was always advocating on behalf of my friends and family. After taking a business law course in college, it finally clicked that being an attorney was what I was meant to do.

What practice areas do you focus on?

While I handle many different types of complex tort litigation, I have focused much of my carrier on construction litigation. I have also been relied on to handle matters that involve catastrophic injuries or high exposure damages. Since I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants during my legal career, I bring a unique perspective on case strategy, analysis, handling, evaluation, and negotiation so that the most favorable results can be achieved on a case-by-case basis. At this stage in my career, I find it much more rewarding seeing the impact my legal experience can have on the lives of injured individuals and their families.

Tell us about your unique approach to litigation.

I believe that one of the reasons that I add value to the Hach & Rose team is my unique experience throughout my career of handling complex legal matters from all sides of litigation. In addition to currently representing plaintiffs, my past legal experience has allowed me to defend claims as a defense attorney, directly collaborate with insurance carriers, and handle claims in-house for a major corporation. Each of these experiences throughout my career gives me a significant advantage because I have a rare perspective and understanding of how each player in the litigation process approaches, strategizes, handles, evaluates, and negotiates cases.

What are you most proud of, professionally or personally?

Personally, I’m most proud of my family. They mean everything to me. My wife and I have been married for 13 years and we have a wonderful 8-year-old son. Being a dad is my most important job. During the pandemic, I had a unique opportunity to slow down and enjoy time with my son. At the beginning, we made the decision to quarantine in Vermont. In addition to helping my son navigate Second-Grade remote learning, we spent a lot of time having fun going on hikes, listening to music, watching movies, doing puzzles, and playing with remote control cars. He even learned how to ride a bike while in Vermont. It was an amazing bonding experience that I will cherish forever.

Professionally, I am very proud to have been relied upon and trusted to handle complex, high exposure cases. I also feel it is important to be a leader in my community, whether serving on committees, being a mentor to other attorneys, or presenting as a speaker at trade conferences. I’m also proud of being able to develop authentic relationships with my clients. Over the years, many of these work relationships have developed into personal friendships that have spanned years beyond our professional ties.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?

I am a huge Islanders fan. When I was 9 months old, my father purchased season tickets for the team’s inaugural season in ’72. He made sure to put both of our names on the account and we have had seasons tickets ever since. I am one of a handful people who has been a season ticket holder since the team’s inception. Also, since my mother grew up in Liverpool, my family have been generational fans of Everton Football Club. We fly over to England for games whenever we can. In 2019, we attended Everton’s first home game of the season and the team featured my family in the opening day program. After the game, the team honored us and gave my son autographed pictures of many of the players because we “flew across the pond for the home opener”.

What is your favorite quote?

Willy Wonka: “Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.”

Spotlight on Brandon Cotter

Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Brandon Cotter gives insight into why he became a lawyer and who he is.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Honestly, I have no idea! I think a lot of people have a story that drives them from the time they are kids. When I was little, I wanted to be a baseball player because I loved the Chicago Cubs, but it turns out my fastball wasn’t exactly major league level.
I ended becoming a lawyer not so much from one stoke of inspiration so much as a culmination of years of observation. I come from a blue-collar family in a small town. My father ran the local bakery and my mother put herself through school and became a nurse, caring for elderly nursing home patients. I saw them work hard, day in and day out, and they made sure I did too. I think when you spend most of your life living paycheck to paycheck you see these small injustices. Many times, it isn’t that big of a deal. A landlord treats you poorly, or a phone company overcharges you a bit. It seems like the people in power know just how much to take advantage of you before someone will step in and do something.
At some point I realized that I had the ability to be a person who can help. I think it comes from a combination of knowing what it is like to need help, and also wanting to right a few wrongs along the way.

What practice areas do you focus on?

I focus mainly on construction accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and premises cases. I am a trial lawyer, so part of me would love to get in there and try every case put in front of me. However, specializing in these areas means you get to know everything about your client. When we go to court for a client, we know their livelihood is on the line. Knowing I put my full energy into this specific area of law lets me rest easy at night knowing we are prepared to win.

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

I think this is probably the hardest question to answer. The easy thing to do here is to list off my biggest verdicts and settlements. If you are reading this trying to decide if you want me to represent you, I am sure that might be comforting, but you can find that stuff online. While it is a nice feeling every time I help someone walk away with millions of dollars, my favorite case didn’t end that way. My favorite case was for an elderly woman I represented early in my career who fell walking out of a restaurant. When I first spoke to her, she somewhat meekly told me what happened, embarrassed to describe her fall. She was ashamed that she needed a lawyer, but her medical bills were piling up and she truly needed help. She walked me through her accident, and I was able to help her. The medical bills were covered, she received a decent settlement, and most importantly she was happy. When she came to get her settlement check she brought her daughter and we talked about her mother and her case. A few years down the road after the client passed, her daughter hired me for a case because I gained her trust while working with her mother. Trust is invaluable, and it felt good to be that family’s lawyer.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of who I represent, and who I fight against. Every client I have is taking on one of the biggest companies in America, and sometimes the world. Building owners, insurance companies, product makers – they have the power. Each of my clients ask me to fight these companies on their behalf. They know from the get-go that our contract works like this: If they lose, I lose. We are in this together. Every time we settle a case or get a verdict, my client’s life will get better and I get the satisfaction of knowing we took down one of the big guys.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies, or a fun fact?

I have the opposite of a hidden talent – I have a hidden weakness! I sing so poorly that my father once sang “Father and Son” at a talent show with my sisters. When asked on stage why he didn’t bring his son up to sing, he replied that he had no intention of punishing the audience.

What is your favorite quote?

“Fiat justitia, ruat caelum,” which translates to “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.”

Attorney Spotlight: Hillary Nappi

Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Hillary Nappi gives insight into why she became a lawyer and who she is.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I decided to be an attorney when I was six years old. My parents had gone out to dinner and left me with a babysitter. While they were gone I accidentally broke a lamp and, afraid to get in trouble, I quickly glued it back together. When my parents came home and saw the lamp, which was obviously a mess, they asked me what happened. I lied and spun a story blaming my dog. My parents were not fooled, and I was grounded. I made a list of reasons why I should be let off punishment in a marble notebook and presented it to my parents over dinner. They laughed and told me I was still punished for lying. I hounded them every day for the whole week. Finally, they let me off punishment two days early. For my perseverance they told me that I would probably make a good lawyer. After my dad explained to me what a lawyer was, I decided right then and there that it would be my future.

What practice areas do you focus on?

I work on complex corporate litigation, corporate governance, and sexual abuse and assault cases.

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

I have two cases which mean the world to me. The first case was litigated last year. I represented a 17-year-old high school student in a case involving bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination. My client is gay and when he came out to his classmates he was brutally bullied and harassed. He fought back, and instead of dealing with the bullies, his school suspended him. When he returned to school, he was assaulted on the campus. Again, the school punished him instead of his attackers, and moved to have him expelled. The administration’s response to his sexuality made me realize how many kids are being marginalized every day and how many children need protection. We were able to arrange for him to finish his education with home schooling, and we also settled the case so that he had money to compensate him for his injuries. Most importantly, the outcome of this case gave him the freedom to start his new life, seeking out people and places that would let him feel respected and accepted.

The second case is a Child Victims Act (CVA) case. My client was repeatedly raped and abused by her brother in law when she was a child. When she contacted me, no other firm would take her case. We were successfully able to bring awareness of her allegations to the community she grew up in (and fled). When her case settled, she told me that it was the first day of the rest of her life. She has repeatedly called me a “life-saver.” Though I’m honored that she feels that way, I don’t necessarily think that’s true. However, her case made me feel like a “gladiator in a suit” (a quote from one of my favorite shows, Scandal).

These two cases helped me to realize that even though representing survivors of sexual assault can be incredibly draining, cases like these are why I do it. I helped to change the lives of these two people, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

What are you most proud of?

My ability to remain real. I’m honest with my clients; I listen to their stories, offer them sympathy, and never over or underestimate what I can do for them. In my life, my friends and family know that I’m someone they can trust. No matter what happens, I never want to lose that quality.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies, or a fun fact?

Recently I’ve gotten into cooking! There wasn’t too much else to do during quarantine, so I figured it would be a good time to brush up on my skills. I am now an expert at making fried rice.

What is your favorite quote?

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was my high school yearbook quote and it still resonates with me. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever read.

Attorney Spotlight: Halina Radchenko

New York City personal injury attorney Halina Radchenko discusses what inspired her to become a lawyer.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Well as a kid, I absolutely loved theater and sometimes dreamed of being an actress, but as a child of immigrants there was no way that was going to happen. I came to the U.S. when I was 4 from Kiev. I think the seed of practicing law must have started young, though I didn’t truly realize it until high school. My great grandfather practiced as a criminal defense attorney on behalf of the King of Russia. My grandmother used to tell me stories as a child about his cases, and how much he loved helping people.

I went to James Madison High School, which is the high school that Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from. They actually had a courtroom named after her and I think that’s where my love for the law started. In my freshmen year I participated in a mock trial, and after that I was completely hooked. I had found a profession that tied my love of performance – because trying a case in court is definitely a kind of performance! – with a profession that my parents would approve of.

My great grandfather’s influence, coupled with my experiences in high school, are why I chose to become a plaintiff’s side personal injury trial lawyer. It’s a career I’m truly passionate about.

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

I think the most interesting case I ever worked on would be my first municipal liability case. This was really my first foray into a case suing the city, and I didn’t know all of the ins and outs associated with that kind of a case. My client had fallen in a pothole, and she had taken photos of the pothole at the time of the accident. Lo and behold, by 7 AM the next day, the pothole was gone! I thought, well, surely that means the city must have received written notice. But after 2 years of wild goose chase – which took two years! – it turned out they had never been notified. That was when I learned that in New York City, they employ roving repair gangs whose entire purpose is to just wander around the city and fix any potholes that they stumble across. And that was how it happened – the city had never had written notice, the repair gang just came across the pothole. I had no idea this process even existed, and I found out so much about the city and how repairs happen.

I truly thought I’d lose the case, but the night before the trial I had an idea to issue a crazy motion to go back into discovery. It was a last-ditch effort, but it was worth a shot. Somehow it worked, and we were able to settle for $75,000, way more than we ever expected to get. It was an incredibly difficult case, but it was fascinating, and in the end rewarding that I was able to get that amount for my client!

What are you most proud of?

Personally, I’m really proud that I’ve achieved a good balance between my work and my home life. Before I had kids, I was incredibly career focused. After I had my kids, I was determined to be a great mom and an excellent lawyer at the same time, and I knew I’d need to work out a way to accomplish both without sacrificing anything. I’ve completely restructured my work and home life so that I can spend as much time as possible with my kids, while still getting as much time as I need to do my job to the best of my ability. I’m really proud of being able to be a great mom and a great lawyer.

Professionally, I’m very proud and humbled to become the next president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA). During the case that I was describing earlier, my boss at the time suggested that I use NYSTLA as a resource to get some transcripts I needed. That was how I was first introduced to the organization, and over the years I became more and more involved with them. They were a big part of my growth journey as a lawyer. I’m really proud of the work that they do. They work to change legislation that’s unfair and make New York a better place to live. When I was nominated as president-elect this year, I became the youngest president at NYSTLA, and possibly the youngest in the country (each state has their own Trial Lawyers Association).

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?

I’m a diver! I love to dive, and as a result I’m really big into ocean conservation. If I am ever in the water and see a piece of garbage, I have to grab it. My kids all know the drill. If we’re in the water, we all immediately grab any trash. The strangest piece of trash I ever found was an iPhone in the middle of the ocean.

We like to dive when we travel as well, and one place I really want to dive is Thailand. They have a serious issue with pollution in their waters, and if you want to help them clean their waters, you can actually join a dive team for that purpose. I really want to go with my son so we can join the diving team and collect garbage. It’s a passion of mine.

What is your favorite quote?

“Heaven is a place. A place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” It’s a quote from the song Heaven by the Talking Heads. I love it because it reminds me to live my life to the fullest. Everyone has this abstract concept of what will happen when we die, but in this song, it’s just a bar where they play the same song, the same people are always there, and nothing ever happens. Down here on Earth is where everything happens. So to me, it means live your life to the fullest now, because nothing is better than this.

Attorney Spotlight: Mark Sokoloff

New York City personal injury lawyer Mark Sokoloff talks about his career and background.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Ralph Nader spoke at my college and really inspired me. He was a civil rights attorney and is well known for his work in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform. That, and John F. Kennedy, who said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

The first firm I worked with when I graduated from law school was a railroad labor firm, and one of the first cases I was involved with was Agent Orange. One of the first clients I worked with was Paul Reutershan.

He came in initially to see if he had a case against the railroad because a commuter had assaulted him. I told him no, the railroad isn’t responsible for that, and I figured that would be the end of the conversation. He says, “Well, while I have you here, can I ask you about something else? I think I got cancer from something called Agent Orange while I was serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.” Right away, I think he’s crazy, what could he be talking about? But I try to be respectful and take notes, even though at this point I think this whole story is ridiculous. I get off the phone with him and tell him I’ll be in touch.

When I started looking into the information he gave me, things made more and more sense, and I became convinced that there was something important here. Other people were looking into it at the time, and they were going to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia to find out more about it. So I talked to the other attorneys at the firm, and we decided to go for it. We filed a complaint, hired experts to support our case, and it ended up going to federal court. The money that we won from the insurance company during that case became the start of the Agent Orange fund.

Unfortunately, Paul died from the cancer he contracted after his time in Vietnam before we won the case. He became the first person to receive a federal disability benefit as a veteran involved with Agent Orange, and he received it posthumously. This whole experience was extremely formative for my career, and it was my first entry into class action lawsuits.

What are you most proud of?

Well, being a part of the filing of Agent Orange is something I’m extremely proud of. I also helped to form the Independent Railway Supervisors Association (IRSA) as the first independent union on a major carrier.

I also have a very well cited second circuit court of appeals case, Bates vs. LIRR, which was one of the first Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) filed against the railroad, and we established that a railroad can’t furlough people with a disability.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?

I actually once opened at The Improv, the comedy club on West 44th Street. It’s a pizza place now but in its day, it was an institution for comedians. I opened for Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison. It was only 6 minutes, and it was a complete blur. I don’t even remember how I did! I guess I couldn’t have been that good since I became a lawyer, not a comedian.

What is your favorite quote?

For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.

Attorney Spotlight: Michael Rose

A Founding Partner of Hach & Rose, LLP, Michael Rose has more than 20 years of experience fighting for his clients. We sat down with Michael to learn more about his career path, what inspires him, and hear about some of his largest cases.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I always knew that I wanted to do something to help society, I just didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it. Initially, I thought I wanted to do that was through environmental law. But as I went through law school, I realized I wanted to become a trial lawyer. I enjoy speaking in public and being in the courtroom. After law school, I was hired by a personal injury firm where I learned skills both as a trial lawyer and how to best serve clients. I was lucky to be put into the right situations where I was able to discover what I’m really passionate about. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help people in need.

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

Our first seven-figure jury verdict was a really significant case for us, not solely because of the money we won but in confirming that we’re doing good for our clients. That was back when Greg Hach and I first started the practice, and things were very different back then. We had to be very conscientious about the amount of money we spent pursuing a case, because at the time our budgets weren’t anything like what they are now. We were representing a man who was involved in an auto accident. He was a union printer, and because of the nature of his job he had a history of back problems. The accident was truly the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he needed significant spinal surgery. He couldn’t return to work after the accident and he had a family to support, including a daughter in law school. The attorneys on the side of the defendant were arguing that they shouldn’t have to pay any significant amount of money because our client had a history of back issues. They said his disability wasn’t caused by the accident, it was caused by years of working in print shops. The trial was expensive, back at a time where the amount we spent on a case was something we needed to be very careful about. It was a big deal to us, but we knew we had to do the right thing by the client, no matter how much hardship it caused us.

Finally, the defendant offered to settle for $500,000. It would have been a huge amount of money at the time, and I think our client would have accepted it if we had advised it. But I really felt it wasn’t the right amount of money, considering the significance of the injuries our client will suffer with the rest of his life. So we rejected the offer and decided to take the case to trial. The trial took a month and cost us $50,000 at a time when we really didn’t have that kind of money. We were taking a huge risk, and we put the case into the jury’s hands.

There was a moment I’ll never forget, right before the jury gave their decision. The jury was out and during that time they have the opportunity to ask questions and write notes for the judge. They sent a note asking for a calculator. At that point, I knew we were in good shape! The jury settled on a number over $2,000,000. That was when I knew we were doing the right thing. If we stick to our convictions, we’ll be successful.

Tell us about the origin story of Hach & Rose, LLP. How did you decide to start the firm?

Greg and I met while working at a law firm in downtown Manhattan. We both started working there straight out of law school. We were around the same age and the firm was in the process of making us both partnership offers. We were only in our late 20s, and we would have been the youngest partners in the history of that firm. It was a very large, well respected firm, and becoming partners would have offered us very secure, stable careers. But even though we were young, Greg and I already had big dreams, and we knew how we’d want to run a business. We wanted to be in control of our own destinies. It was more important to take the risk of starting out on our own, rather than take the safe road.

We began our journey towards creating a firm by renting two small offices in Manhattan. The first employee we hired was Philomena, when she was only 19. She’s still with us, 20 years later, managing our office. Today we have 15 attorneys and more than 40 employees.

What are you most proud of?

Personally, my kids. They’re both teenagers now and I’m so proud of how they’re growing into young adults and how they’ve become kind, thoughtful people people who care about others and what’s going on in the world. I like to think that some of that came from watching me as they grew up.

Professionally, the fact that I grew a business from the ground up. It’s a business based on helping people, and that means a lot to me. Not only are we helping our clients, but we have 40 employees that support their families through their careers with us. I’m proud that people enjoy working here, and that they’re proud of our firm. You spend more time in your office than you do at home, so providing a place that people are happy to work in is important to me.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?

Nope! I’m too self-absorbed to have any hidden talents, I would have talked about it already! (Honestly, what attorney isn’t? If your attorney isn’t at least a little self-absorbed, you might want to find a new one…)

But to answer the question, I do love to exercise. It’s a way that I reduce stress and clear my mind. I grew up playing soccer and tennis competitively. I still play tennis, and I share that hobby with my daughter. I also enjoy playing basketball with my son.

What is your favorite quote?

There are many that I like, but two come to mind. “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching,” is one I love by John Wooden. And then there’s the popular quote by the great Wayne Gretsky, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” As an attorney who has led his life choosing difficult paths, rather than the comfortable ones, that resonates with me.

2019 Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship Winner

After combing through hundreds of inspiring stories of perseverance in the face of adversity, we are honored to announce the winner of the 2019 Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship. This year’s winner was “born to a team of lawyers trying to convince [her] parents not to even attempt to sue the hospital.”

A month before she was born, in December of 2000, Eliza Schmitt’s mother visited her doctor for a routine checkup. Her parents wanted to induce labor on January 1st, 2001, and asked the doctor about it. The doctor refused to induce labor for personal reasons rather than what was best for the patient. Eliza explains the doctor’s beliefs as “while medicine can help alleviate the pain of birth… we, as people, don’t have the right to induce labor.” Despite Eliza’s mother having previously struggled with a natural birth and her preference for a C-Section, the doctor pushed them towards having the baby naturally, and told them parents that “She’ll come when she’s ready.”

Parents put their trust in their doctors, which makes what happened next feel even more of a betrayal.

Eliza was born on January 20th, 2001, nearly three weeks after the day her parents would have induced the labor. The birth was a challenging one, and the doctors said something was wrong in the process. Due to the extra time she spent in the womb, Eliza was a large baby. Eliza’s head and left arm were out, but she was stuck in the birth canal and would need to be pulled out. Eliza explains what happened:

“I’ve been told that either they would end up breaking my collarbone or giving me permanent nerve damage– Erb’s Palsy. Either way it was a lose-lose situation, but knowing they had no other options, my parents had to agree. Instead of the slightly better option of breaking my collarbone, something that wouldn’t majorly affect me for the rest of my life, I received permanent nerve damage. I arrived around 12pm, left arm dangling, forever useless.”

After she was born, the doctor refused to take responsibility for what happened. Her family called lawyer after lawyer, and all of them refused to take on the case of clear-cut medical negligence, saying that suing hospitals was a “no-go.” At the same time, the hospital’s legal team advised Eliza’s parents not to sue the hospital. Without any lawyers willing to step up and take on their case, her parents were left unable to do anything to hold the hospital accountable for their daughter’s birth injury.

For the first 10 years of her life, Eliza’s arm “laid uselessly at [her] side” as she grew up in constant pain. In 2011, she was able to undergo an experimental surgery that made some corrections in her shoulder. After eight hours of surgery and six months of physical therapy, she was finally able to lift her shoulder.

Her entire life was changed as a result of the negligence of a single doctor. Despite the difficulties she has faced, Eliza says that her disability has made her a stronger person. “It made me work harder than my peers for things that came easy to them.” She was told that she would never be able to play an instrument, or shoot a basketball, or even do a simple pushup. She overcame all of these challenges and is now able to play both the piano and the saxophone, can through a “poor basketball shot,” and can do a wall pushup. She learned that through hard work, perseverance, and creativity, she can do anything. We completely agree. Congratulations, Ms. Schmitt.

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