Morgan & Morgan is proud to announce that a case handled by its own Keith Mitnik and Alexander Clem will be included in the “Big Money Wins of 2013” feature of the October 21 issue of The National Law Journal.
“For Mr. Brink, he was able to achieve a stellar result under difficult circumstances,” Clem said of the jury’s verdict. “It was a just and righteous result as well. He’s got a profound brain injury that’s had a significant impact on his day-to-day functionality.”
Mitnik and Clem’s inclusion in the feature is based on their collective work in “Brink v. Pereles.” The attorneys sued Juan Pereles, the vehicle’s driver, and Juan de Los Santos, a passenger ruled vicariously responsible for Pereles’ actions, on behalf of Dustin Brink, who suffered severe brain damage ruled to be the direct result of their accident in Kissimmee.
“This is a guy who used to be able to assemble and disassemble a Harley Davidson motorcycle down to the last lug nut,” Clem said, “and now he doesn’t know how to use a flat head screw driver.”
According to court documents, Brink’s Kawasaki motorcycle was clipped by a car driven by an allegedly intoxicated Pereles as they both proceeded through an intersection. Mitnik and Clem later argued that Pereles attempted to leave the scene of the accident, but was stopped by a police officer who witnessed the crash a third of a mile away. Brink, a 31-year-old Iraq War veteran, was thrown from his bike and hit his head on the pavement, resulting in severe brain damaged.
“Because of one senseless act and negligently operated vehicle,” Clem said, “my client will forever be without the ability to go to work and probably be a father and enjoy the other things that bring us great joy and happiness.”
Court documents state the accident caused Brink to “lose all brain function,” including the ability to “plan, organize and sequence” activities, as well as “filter his thoughts.” After the accident, Brink spent a month in the hospital in a coma and underwent intensive speech, occupational and physical therapy shortly thereafter. Court documents describe Brink’s current behavioral state as “child-like” due to the accident.
“As a plaintiff’s advocate, a personal injury lawyer,” Clem said, “you really have to get to know your client and understand how their injuries have affected his or her life. In this case with Dustin, it’s deeply saddening.”
Ultimately, the final jury verdict declared Brink was 50 percent at fault for his injuries since he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, a ruling Clem sees as the result of “anti-motorcycle bias.” Although Brink’s damages were found to have totaled $25,927,183, due to comparative negligence, his net award was reduced to $12,963,591. Although they view the final verdict as fair, for Clem and Mitnik, however, justice for their client will always trump any accolades they may receive in print.
“One day we will be able to give justice to Dustin Brink by way of giving him an appropriate amount of money so he can have the help and assistance to improve his quality of life,” Clem noted. “It’ll never fix or resolve what he’s going through. Ultimately, the jury’s verdict will be able to help him.”
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