Brown & Kelly

News & Achievements

No Cause Verdict for Kristen Degnan
Partner Kristen B. Degnan and Paralegal Bobbie Jo Keller obtained trial verdict of no cause of action in the Batavia case of Failing v. Castner. The plaintiff alleged injuries stemming from a motor vehicle accident due to white out conditions. Plaintiff was initially involved in a one car roll over accident. A good Samaritan off duty EMT stopped to assist and placed plaintiff in the backseat of his vehicle, parked on the side of the road. White out conditions continued when defendant driver then struck the parked vehicle head on. Plaintiff alleged her injuries all resulted from the second accident. After a summary jury trial, the jury returned a verdict of no cause, finding that defendant driver was not negligent under the circumstances.
Brown & Kelly Super Lawyers 2016

We are proud to announce that Kenneth Krajewski, Renata Kowalczuk, Donald B. Eppers, and Andrew Merrick were  selected as Super Lawyers for 2016. Jessica Burgasser was selected as a Rising Star. Inclusion in Super Lawyers is based on a rigorous, multi-step selection process, which includes background and experience as well as peer review recommendation. 

Meet Jacquelyn (Jackie) Baumann, Administrative/Legal Assistant


Jacquelyn (Jackie) Baumann, Administrative/Legal Assistant to one of the Managing Partners and the Senior Trial Attorney, has been employed with Brown & Kelly for 33 years.

 

Some of Jackie’s regular job duties include:  preparing and processing Supreme and Federal Court documents and correspondence; providing assistance to attorneys for court appearances and depositions; organizing attorneys’ discovery and medical records; monitoring various legal websites; performing internet research including filing procedures; and serving as the legal events coordinator for extracurricular attorney activities.  "I am always willing to help with any phase of a project in the office. Team work is vital and I feel we are an effective team."

 

Jackie is a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School and Bryant & Stratton College (Administrative/Legal Assistant Associate’s Degree). "I have always been drawn to the legal field,” Jackie says.I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when I know we have helped someone."

 

In her spare time, she likes to play general/music trivia with her husband, Bob; gardening; baking; reading/watching Jane Austin fiction; Adventure fiction and Adult Science fiction; and enjoys the company of people who have a good sense of humor and can make her laugh.

 

Fun Facts You May or May Not Know About Jackie:

 

      1.  My sister and I share a birthday but are 6 years apart in age.

      2.  I was named after Ms. America 1963, Jacquelyn Mayer.

      3.  I went to Bryant & Stratton with the intention of studying Travel and Tourism to become a travel agent, but changed my mind at the last minute.

      4.  A few of my favorite travel destinations have been: Hawaii, England, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Cayman Islands and will be traveling to Alaska in the near future.

      5.   Bucket List Item: A 2 week Viking River Cruise through Europe.

      6.  Favorite food: poutine. (French fries with gravy and cheese curds. Thank you Canada!!)

      7.  Favorite things about living in Buffalo are: summer festivals, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, the Transit Drive-In, and the fall colors.

      8.  Favorite cocktail: BBC/Havanas and Bananas at Margaritaville.

      9.  Favorite restaurant: P.F. Chang’s.

      10. Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice

      11. Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones (Hail Jon Snow, King of the North!!)

               

Quotes:

“Friends are like snowflakes…all different and all beautiful.” – Author Unknown

“To be rich in family and friends is to be poor in nothing.”   - A take on a Lilian Whiting quote           

 

Jackie

Meet Donna Fial, Office Coordinator

Donna Fial is the Office Coordinator at Brown & Kelly LLP.  Donna has a diversified role in the office and no day is like any other.  Her duties include (but are not limited to):  overseeing the filing system, opening and closing files, reception coverage, filing documents with the various courts, making general deliveries, monitoring and ordering office and kitchen supplies, making copies and scanning documents as needed, assisting in the organization of medical records and providing assistance to the Controller/Office Manager. 

“I’m an early bird, so I like to get in the office first thing in the morning, and get a heads up on the day.” Mrs. Fial says. “I don’t sit at my desk all day, and that is what I enjoy most about my job. Working as a team is important, and if you can help someone with a project, it truly makes for a better work environment.”

Donna graduated from Villa Maria High School with a Business/Office Studies Major.

In August of 2017, Mrs. Fial will be celebrating 35 years at Brown & Kelly.  Mrs. Fial remembers, “I had no office or legal experience of any kind, and am grateful for the chance Brown & Kelly gave me.”

In her spare time, Mrs. Fial enjoys spending time going to antiques markets with her husband Mark, gardening, reading, and spoiling her dog Lucky.

Brown & Kelly is honored to have such a loyal employee as part of its firm, team and family.  She is the epitome of dedication.       


“10 Things” with Donna Fial:

1. If you could have any other profession than working in an office, what would it be? I love going to antique markets and gift shops, so I would love to own my own shop with lots of Kitschy Items

2. Pet? 1 dog Lucky (a mix breed Chihuahua/terrier from the Buffalo Animal Shelter)

3. Bucket List Wish? I’d love to get an RV and see the entire United States with my husband. No Thruways or expensive hotels, just the real sites and roads.

4. Favorite Place you’ve ever visited? Disney World

5. Worst subject in High School? Math

6. Favorite restaurant in Buffalo? La Bella Sicilia

7. Place you’d most like to visit? Germany (I would like to see what is called the Christkindlmarket- this is a shopping market held in Germany for the holiday season)

8. Favorite Food? French Fries & Gravy

9. Favorite thing about living in Buffalo?   The People (we are truly the “City of Good Neighbors”

10. Least favorite thing about living in Buffalo? Shoveling Snow.


donna

Lawyers for Learning Bowling 2016

Brown & Kelly participated in the Lawyers for Learning Bowling Tournament May 19, 2016. The Men's team brought home the Male Team High Series win!!! They had a combined (2 game) score of 1428. Steve Parrish had the high game score of 207.
A special thank you to the participants: Sue Yerkey, Paul Yerkey, Dawn Lindner, Dominic Driscoll, Teresa Cleary, Paul Callahan, Bobbie Jo Keller, Jake Keller, Renata Kowalczuk, and Steve Parrish.

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Family Matters with Brown & Kelly and Laura Daniels

Renata Kowalczuk and Kristen Balbick Degnan are appearing in a weekly “Ask the Lawyer” radio spot on the Laura Daniels morning show on Mix 96 FM (96.1FM). The 2 minute spot is entitled “Family Matters with Brown & Kelly and Laura Daniels” and will run every Tuesday at approximately 8:45 a.m. Topics will include prenuptial agreements, planning for your children’s future, family heirlooms and inheritances, family business, divorce, child custody and support, pet custody, and many other family law oriented matters. Listeners will be able to submit questions on the Mix 96 website which Renata and Kristen can respond to.

Contact Renata or Kristen with any questions. Or, click the link below to go to the Mix96 webpage.

Click to go to the original article

Kenneth A. Krajewski Named Chair of TICL

Congratulations to Managing Partner Kenneth A. Krajewski on becoming Chair of the Torts, Insurance & Compensation Law (TICL) section of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Krajewski has previously served as TICL’s Vice-Chair and Secretary.

Ken

Kenneth A. Krajewski Presents at the Annual Joint Dinner for the Torts, Insurance & Compensation Law (TICL) and Trial Lawyers

On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Managing Partner Kenneth A, Krajewski attended the Annual Joint Dinner for the Torts, Insurance & Compensation Law (TICL) and Trial Lawyers sections of the New York State Bar Association. As Vice Chair of TICL, Mr. Krajewski presented the outgoing Chair, Mirna Santiago, with a plaque in recognition of her service to the organization.
Pictured left to right TICL Members: Mirna Santiago, Chair; Kenneth A. Krajewski, Vice Chair; Brendan Baynes, Treasurer; Gary Cusano, Annual Meeting Co-Chair; Leslie McMillan, Annual Meeting Co-Chair; and Rob Coughlin, Immediate Past Chair.

TICL


KRISTEN DEGNAN AND BRYAN DOLIN PRESENT TO BUFFALO CLAIMS ASSOCIATION

Partner Kristen B. Degnan and Attorney Bryan E. Dolin presented at the Buffalo Claims Association Education Day on No-Fault and conducted a mock arbitration for the membership.

PAUL J. CALLAHAN JOINS BROWN & KELLY AS A PARTNER

We are pleased to announce that Paul J. Callahan has joined Brown & Kelly as a partner. 

Kristen B. Degnan Named Partner

We are pleased to announce that Kristen B. Degnan has been named a Partner.

Super Lawyers 2015
We are proud to announce that Kenneth Krajewski, Renata Kowalczuk, Donald B. Eppers, Jessica Burgasser, and Kristen B. Degnan were selected as Super Lawyers 2015. Inclusion in Super Lawyers is based on a rigorous, multi-step selection process, which includes background and experience as well as peer review recommendation. 
Brown & Kelly Has Moved!

After two years of planning, Brown & Kelly has officially moved to the Main Place Tower. We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to the two people who engineered the move: Managing Partner Kenneth A. Krajewski and Senior Litigation and Trial Paralegal Rebecca Koenig.

We would like to point out that Ms. Koenig not only planned the move itself, she was our "Moving Czar".  She coordinated our move with all vendors, both buildings and our attorneys and staff, and was the driving force in the design of the office. Her keen eye in creating a comfortable, yet businesslike, atmosphere is evident in this picture which depicts our waiting area. It is as comfortable as it looks.

Reception

Mentioned Attorney: Kenneth A. Krajewski

Court Upholds Multi-million Dollar Award to Brown & Kelly Client

Yesterday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld almost $4 million in damages awarded to Elijah Turley by the United States District Court in Buffalo, as a result of his employment discrimination and harassment claims against his former employer, Arcelor-Mittal Steel.

Although the Court reduced the punitive damages portion of the judgment from $5 million to $2.6 million, it turned away almost every argument made by the defendants on appeal.

The court noted that Mr. Turley had "endured an extraordinary and steadily intensifying drumbeat of racial insults, intimidation, and degradation over a period of more than three years." The court noted that the employer's "meager investigations and nearly total lack of action failed to stop the escalating abuse; instead, managers often appeared to condone or even participate in part in the harassment."

While the court observed that few recorded cases had dealt with an "award of quite this magnitude" ($1.32 million) in damages for pain and suffering, the reason for this is that this level of harassment and mistreatment had never before been reported, and "the case before us appears to be unique."

Brown and Kelly, and trial counsel Donald B. Eppers, were honored to represent Mr. Turley in his efforts to obtain justice for what he endured.


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Court of Appeals Case on Lead Paint
Many insurance policies contain a “non-cumulation clause” which limits the insurer’s exposure to the policy limit.  The Court of Appeals previously addressed the non-cumulation clause for lead paint claims in Hiraldo v. Allstate, 5 N.Y.3d 508, 840 N.E.2d 563 (2005), where the infant plaintiff alleged lead poisoning over the course of three (3) years while living at a property owned by the insured.  The insured had a landlord’s insurance policy with Allstate, and two (2) identical renewal policies, each with a $300,000 liability limit.  The Court of Appeals held that the non-cumulation clause precluded the plaintiff from stacking the policies.  The liability limits for plaintiff’s claims were thus $300,000.  

In the November 25, 2014 Nesmith v. Allstate Insurance Company decision, the Court of Appeals held that the non-cumulation clause may limit the insurer’s exposure in cases where multiple plaintiffs were successively exposed to the same lead hazzard in the same household. A copy of the decision is enclosed.

In Nesmith v. Allstate Insurance Company, two (2) families occupied the same apartment in successive years between 1992 and 1993. Felicia Young and her children lived in the subject apartment from November 1992 until September 1993. In July 1993, the Department of Health notified the landlord that one of the Young children had been found to have elevated lead levels and violations were cited at the residence. The landlord made repairs and the Department of Health advised, in August 1993, that the violations had been corrected. After the Young family moved out in September 1993, Lorenzo Patterson, Sr. moved in with the Nesmith children. Again, a child was found to have an elevated blood level and violations were cited by the Department of Health.  Thus, despite the initial efforts made by the landlord to remediate the lead hazards after the first family vacated the property, and before the second family moved into the property, lead hazzards continued to exist on the property.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Defendant Allstate that there was no basis to conclude that a new lead paint hazard had been introduced between the time when the first family moved out of the residence and the second family moved in.  Even though the claims were during different time frames and involved different plaintiffs, the hazard was the same. Both the Nesmith and Young plaintiffs were injured “from continuous or repeated exposure to the same general conditions”, so that the injuries were a single “accidental loss” within the meaning of the policy. Thus, the insurer’s maximum total liability for the Nesmith and Young claims was the policy limit. 

The significance of this decision cannot be overstated as it caps an insurer’s exposure in multiple claims to the policy limit for “each occurrence”, as long as the hazard is the same and the policy contains a non-cumulation clause.

If you have any questions on this decision or any lead paint claims, please do not hesitate to contact Renata Kowalczuk or Kristen B. Degnan.

Super Lawyers 2014

We are proud to announce that Kenneth A. Krajewski, Renata Kowalczuk, Donald B. Eppers, Jessica J. Burgasser, Andrew D. Merrick and Paul Michael Hasset were selected as Super Lawyers 2014. Inclusion in Super Lawyers is based on a rigorous, multi-step selection process, which includes background and experience as well as peer review recommendation. 

We are also pleased to announce that Kathleen Feroleto has been selected as a Rising Star to the Super Lawyers list for 2014. The selection as a Super Lawyer Rising Star is a great honor, not only because it recognizes outstanding achievement, but also because it is dependent upon the recommendation of peers. Less than 2.5% of lawyers in each state are named Rising Stars.

2014 Court of Appeals Decision on Disclosure Requirements in New York Lead Paint Cases

On June 12, 2014, in the case of Hamilton v. Miller et al., the New York State Court of Appeals addressed whether a plaintiff has to supply medical narrative reports diagnosing every condition or injury alleged in plaintiff’s bill of particulars prior to an independent medical examination. The Court answered in the negative.

In Hamilton, plaintiffs’ attorney alleged over fifty (50) injuries in the Bill of Particulars, including kidney damage, liver damage, eye damage, and neurological damage with related cognitive and behavior problems. The plaintiffs provided no medical evidence regarding most of the injuries and disclosed no medical diagnoses linking their injuries to the lead exposure. The only "evidence" they provided were their diagnoses of elevated lead levels (a lead level of 35 in one case and a lead level of 58 in the other).

Before conducting independent medical examinations under CPLR Section 3121, six defendant landlords moved pursuant to 22 N.Y.C.R.R. 202.17 to compel the plaintiffs to produce any medical reports diagnosing them with the injuries alleged in the Bill of Particulars, and causally relating those injuries to lead exposure. The Supreme Court agreed and ordered the plaintiffs to produce the disclosure to the independent medical examination as it would be fundamentally unfair and contrary to the spirit and intent of 22NYCRR202.17 to force defendants to conduct IMEs in a vacuum. The Fourth Department affirmed.

The New York State Court of Appeals reversed. The Court held that the trial level order imposed unduly burdensome obligations not contemplated by 22 N.Y.C.R.R. 202.17. The Court held the regulation requires only the disclosure of medical reports by medical providers who have previously treated or examined the party seeking recovery, whereas the disclosure sought by the defendants was akin to expert disclosure. For the plaintiff to succeed at trial, the plaintiff will likely need to retain an expert to review the medical records and render the type of causation opinion contemplated by the defendants. However, nothing in the language of 22 N.Y.C.R.R. 202.17 required a plaintiff to make such disclosure at this early stage in litigation, i.e., pre independent medical examination.

The Court of Appeals further indicated that the proper way to deal with issues regarding expert disclosure would be for defendants to ask the individual Judges to amend, or issue, scheduling orders requiring plaintiffs produce expert disclosure at an earlier date. Thus, defense counsel must request the Court order plaintiff to provide expert disclosure prior to the defense expert disclosure deadline, and in advice of 30 days before trial.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Renata Kowalczuk or Kristen B. Degnan.

Lawyers for Learning Bowling Tournament

Brown & Kelly, LLP again participated in the Lawyers for Learning Bowling Tournament. The Lawyers for Learning program matches volunteers from the legal community to students in grades one through eight who are academically at risk and/or financially disadvantaged in order to improve their academic performance, build self-esteem, provide profession role-modeling and increase self-confidence. Kathleen T. Feroleto is a volunteer tutor with the program.
The combined efforts of bowlers Renata Kowalczuk, Managing Partner, and Rebecca Koenig, Litigation Paralegal and Administration and Personnel Manager, lead to them winning “The Worst Bowler” trophy for the evening. Dawn Lindner, the firm’s Litigation Medical Coordinator, coordinated our participation and school supplies donations, as well as bowling at the event. The other bowlers were: Kristen B. Degnan and Shea Kolar, Attorneys; Kristie Marshall, Paralegal; Laura Young, Bookkeeper; Teresa Cleary, Legal Assistant; and a few significant others.


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Jessica J. Burgasser Is Named Partner
Brown & Kelly is pleased to announce that Jessica J. Burgasser has been named a partner to the firm. Jessica joined Brown & Kelly in 2001 and concentrates her practice in insurance defense and coverage litigation, as well as family law matters. She manages the firm’s asbestos case load and provides experienced legal advice to a wide range of asbestos clients, including manufacturers, property owners and retailers.

Mentioned Attorney: Jessica J. Burgasser

Renata Kowalczuk and Kristen B. Degnan attended the Federation of New York Insurance Professionals Conference
Renata Kowalczuk and Kristen B. Degnan attended the Federation of New York Insurance Professionals Conference in Fishkill, NY with the Insurance Women of Buffalo. The Federation of New York Insurance Professionals, Inc. was founded in 1943 as a professional organization which provides its members with skills and experiences to help them progress in the risk and insurance fields through educational, networking and philanthropic activities.
KRISTEN B. DEGNAN PRESENTS ON WORKERS COMPENSATION LAW

On April 10, 2014, Kristen B. Degnan was invited to speak to a senior level class at D’Youville College on Workers Compensation Law. Her presentation was geared toward including the perspectives of both employers and employees.  She also offered many useful tips to the class.  Thank you Kristen for your volunteer spirit as I am sure the class also appreciated your insightful tips and the time you offered out of your busy schedule.

Attorneys at Work

Attorneys Jessica Burgasser and Kathleen Feroleto traveled to a paper mill with our expert witness to perform a site inspection. Both attorneys put on their safety gear to prepare for an upcoming trial regarding an asbestos related matter.

KTFJJB

Brown & Kelly Remembers Friend and Colleague Julia Roberts

November 13, 2013: Brown & Kelly remembers Julia Roberts, our dear friend and colleague, who passed away one year ago today.  Julia was an integral part of the Brown & Kelly family and we continue to mourn her loss. We will forever remember Julia and reflect on her spirit, dedication and personality. We are proud to remember that Julia loved her job, her friends at Brown & Kelly, and her many many friends in the asbestos litigation community. We take comfort in knowing that she will  never be replaced nor forgotten.

BROWN & KELLY LLP WINS $25 MILLION VERDICT

On June 12, 2012, a jury in the Western District Federal Court awarded plaintiff Elijah Turley a twenty-five million dollar ($25,000,000.00) verdict. The lawsuit was commenced on behalf of Elijah Turley against ArcelorMittal in 2006 for Hostile Work Environment and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Mr. Turley was represented by Donald B. Eppers and assisted by paralegal Rebecca E. Koenig of Brown & Kelly LLP.

The jury found a Hostile Work Environment existed along with Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The plaintiff presented evidence of a work environment permeated by racial discrimination. Plaintiff argued the activities in question went beyond harassment and included such incidents as "KKK" graffiti repeatedly sprayed on the walls and a stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck hanging from the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Elijah Turley and his family are very pleased that justice was finally obtained. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the jury in this case.

Mentioned Attorney: Donald B. Eppers

Brown & Kelly Wins 2010 Pro Bono Award

Brown & Kelly has been awarded the Law Firm Commitment Award from the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Western New York for its strong commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance.


Kenneth A. Krajewski to Serve as Chair of NYSBA Program

Kenneth A. Krajewski will serve as the Buffalo Chair for the New York State Bar Association's program "Law School for Insurance Professionals" to be held in Buffalo on September 28, 2011.  He will also speak on current auto liability and coverage issues at the Program when given in Albany on September 23, 2011. 

Andrew Merrick Celebrates 25 Years as an AV Preeminent Attorney
Congratulations to Andrew D. Merrick who is celebrating his 25th Anniversary of achieving the AV® Preeminent™ peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.
Kenneth A. Krajewski Chairs State Bar Program

Kenneth A. Krajewski recently chaired the program "The Examination Before Trial - Honing Your Deposition Skills in Tort and Personal Injury Cases" sponsored by the New York State Bar Association.

More News & Achievements
PROUD HISTORY.
CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE.