Having spent 10 years as a writer and editor for business and news publications, winning several journalism awards along the way, Daniel Bencivenga knew he wanted to make a more profound impact in helping people injured by corporate misconduct. He decided to do it through the law and attended Widener University School of Law in the evenings while writing for a series of medical magazines during the day.
After graduating from law school, Mr. Bencivenga began his career as a labor and employment attorney, representing both individuals and unions in complex cases. During this time, Mr. Bencivenga represented hundreds of steel workers in labor disputes resulting from the shutdown of Bethlehem Steel, where 10,000 people would ultimately be displaced as their jobs were moved overseas or to nonunion states. Working with individual clients, Mr. Bencivenga helped shape interpretations of key discrimination statutes including the Americans with Disabilities Act—establishing that the law protects those who have conventional disabilities as well as those who don’t, like burn survivors.
Several years into his career, Mr. Bencivenga began working with the firm’s Martin K. Brigham, representing individuals catastrophically injured both inside and outside the workplace. The two helped bring national attention to legal issues affecting the burn community—through successful representation of seriously burned individuals and through the publication of articles relating to the rights of burn survivors.
Nursing Home Arbitration: Good News Bad News
Reprinted from PTL Verdict | Volume 2016-2017 Issue 4
September 28, 2016 was a whiplash-inducing day in the world of nursing home litigation. That day, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued regulations that prohibit facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding from using binding arbitration clauses in long-term care contracts. CMS did not mince words: in its extended discussion of its reasoning, it shared its conclusion that “predispute arbitration clauses are by their very nature unconscionable.”
Trumping Pollution Exclusions
Reprinted from Trial Magazine
Mark’s life hasn’t been the same since his accident. A year ago, he was overcome by carboncmonoxide produced as a by-product of a machine at his workplace. He lay unconscious for several minutes before he was discovered by a coworker. Though Mark survived the accident, he sustained permanent brain damage.
Third Party Liability for Workplace Injuries
Reprinted from Trial Magazine
Careful investigation and creativity may reveal alternative sources of liability for workers who are seriously injured on the job.
How Do You Spell Relief?
Reprinted from Trial Magazine
ADA, FMLA, SSA … Lawyers representing injured workers sit down to an alphabet soup of possible legal remedies. Here’s how to spoon up the letters that will best protect your client.
Confidential Settlement for Greek Landslide Fatality. While vacationing with his family in Santorini, Greece – one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world – a Massachusetts financial planner was killed when he was swept by a landslide from a cobblestone path leading from the water’s edge up to the cliffs formed by the volcanic eruption that created the island. The travel agency that arranged the trip is based in Pennsylvania and the family was referred to Raynes McCarty. Through in-depth investigation, Dan Bencivenga discovered that the steep trail where the accident occurred presented the highest landslide risk in the Santorini island complex. Only a year before the accident, a major landslide – prompting news coverage on Greek national television – occurred at precisely the same location where our client would later be killed. Dan identified and retained one of the world’s foremost experts on the volcanic instability of the Island, who was able to explain exactly why this location was so dangerous. Industry practice required the travel agency to keep abreast of safety conditions and warn their customers. Overcoming a defense that the accident was an Act of God that could not have been anticipated, the Raynes McCarty team achieved a confidential settlement that secured the family’s financial future.
Record Settlement for Civil Rights Tragedy. Together with Harold Goodman, Mr. Bencivenga represented the family of Lillie Belle Allen, a black woman killed in 1969 by a white mob in York, PA. When a recent deathbed confession unearthed police involvement in the murder, Mr. Goodman and Mr. Bencivenga overcame the normal two-year time limit for the filing of a lawsuit and successfully prosecuted a civil rights claim against the City of York, achieving one of the largest recoveries in a reopened segregation-era murder case.
Sixteen Confidential Settlements for Sikorsky S-92 Crash Off the Coast of Newfoundland
In 2009, Raynes McCarty led the international team of attorneys representing the passengers – fifteen of whom were killed and one who survived – in the crash of a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter in the frigid north Atlantic off of the coast of Newfoundland. Mr. Bencivenga cracked open the critical issue of overcoming the limitation on damages imposed by the Death on the High Seas Act, thereby opening up a fair and reasonable scope of monetary recovery for the families. Less than a year after the accident, every client’s case was resolved for amounts – made confidential to protect the clients – that ensured their financial security and honored those that they had lost.
$24,000,000 Confidential Settlement for Construction Site Accident. As the operator of a large piece of construction equipment sat down in the cab, he unintentionally moved the joystick control, causing the boom to swing uncontrollably and knock a piece of equipment onto a young man standing nearby. The innocent bystander became a quadriplegic. Working with Roy DeCaro and Marty Brigham, Mr. Bencivenga established that the excavator manufacturer’s design violated international safety standards, ignored safety alerts from its country’s OSHA, and lacked a commercially available alternate design that would have prevented the injury. After jury selection had been completed, the defendants settled for $24,000,000.00.
Expanded Victim’s Rights before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. For their client, Jeanelle Toney, Stephen Raynes and Dan Bencivenga made law in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, securing one of the most important pronouncements of the boundaries of a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim under Pennsylvania law. In July 2003, Ms. Toney gave birth to her son. Because Ms. Toney had been told during her prenatal care that her unborn son was perfectly healthy based on (misread) ultrasounds, she was completely overwhelmed when he was born with significant birth defects. Ms. Toney had no opportunity to brace herself – emotionally, psychologically and religiously. Mr. Raynes and Mr. Bencivenga believed that the doctors who misinformed Ms. Toney should be held liable for their actions and for causing her great emotional distress. After having the case tossed out by the trial court, Mr. Raynes and Mr. Bencivenga persisted through multiple appeals, ultimately winning at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Ms. Toney’s case established that a plaintiff may bring a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim even in the absence of the defendant directly causing injury to the plaintiff or a loved one – a significant expansion of that claim and a new pronouncement in the Pennsylvania’s appellate courts. On the eve of trial, Ms. Toney’s case settled for a confidential amount. The case is reported at: Toney v. Chester County Hosp., 36 A.3d 83 (Pa. 2011).