2022 Year in Review
Kevin Biniazan—January 10, 2023
Before we fully launch into 2023, we wanted to take a minute to share some of our successes from 2022. In January of 2022 we officially announced our new firm, Breit Biniazan, with Kevin Biniazan as our managing partner. At that time we were operating out of our main office in Virginia Beach. Throughout the course of the year we were excited to have the opportunity to expand and open an office in Richmond where our partners Justin Sheldon and Lee Floyd are located. In the spring we also joined forces with Don Scott and added his Portsmouth office to our firm. And as luck would have it, in the summer we had the opportunity to add Scott Perry as partner which brought us our Northern Virginia presence with offices in Arlington and Washington, DC. Our firm is now 13 attorneys strong with an amazing support staff of paralegals, legal assistants and investigators.
In 2022, Breit Biniazan had over $55 million in verdicts and settlements, the largest of which we have summarized below. While these monetary recoveries represent the largest that our firm was able to accomplish for our clients this year, they do not stand alone as the only life-changing outcomes we were grateful to be a part of. Each of our clients comes to us with a need and fight that we are proud to champion on their behalf. To each and every one of them, their cases represent what is often the most significant and important fight of their lives. We cherish the opportunity to be their voice and to lead the charge to justice on their behalf.
We look forward to what 2023 will bring and encourage attorneys who have a challenging case or who are looking to partner on a case to reach out. We wish each of you a happy, healthy and successful 2023!
SUMMARY OF 2022 VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS
On May 2, 2010, Yeardley Love, a student and lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, was tragically murdered by her former boyfriend, George Huguely V. George was also a lacrosse player and the pair had previously dated for about two years in what was described as a rocky and abusive relationship. On the night of May 2 after a day of heavy drinking, George Huguely entered Love’s apartment, kicked down her locked door and violently assaulted her causing blunt force trauma to her head. Huguely was later convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The Love family was represented in the civil case by a team of attorneys including Paul Bekman of Bekman, Marder, Hopper, Malarkey & Perlin, and Jeffrey Stedman and Irvin Cantor of Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci. As the case neared a trial in April 2022, Kevin Biniazan of Breit Biniazan, was added to the team of attorneys to serve as trial counsel.
Sharon and Lexie alleged that Huguely’s assault and battery caused Yeardley Love’s death, and that Huguely’s conduct was so willful and wanton to evince a conscious disregard for her life and safety. On May 2, 2022 , a jury agreed, awarding $7.5 million each in compensatory damages to Sharon and Lexie and finding Huguely’s conduct did amount to willful and wanton conduct. The verdict provides much-needed closure to their 12-year ordeal.
In closing arguments, Attorney Kevin Biniazan told jurors they couldn’t consider Huguely’s drinking a mitigating factor for his conduct. In other words, his voluntary intoxication in no way diminished his responsibility for Love’s death:
“This is common sense. If a man gets behind the wheel of a car drunk, and he’s so drunk that he doesn’t even know that he’s behind the wheel of a car. . . is it a defense in that case to say, I was so drunk I just didn’t know I was behind the wheel of a car? That despite all my life experiences knowing that it’s dangerous to get behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated, let me off, ratchet it down, because in that moment I just had a few too many? That’s not common sense.”
And with no appeal filed by Huguely, this verdict marks the end of a tragic chapter for the Loves and Charlottesville alike.
$11 Million Settlement:
On March 13, 2021, Temika Pleas was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband, Calvin Majette, III. They were traveling on Portsmouth Boulevard in the City of Portsmouth when they were struck by a vehicle that had run a red light on California Avenue while attempting to elude the police. The plaintiff’s vehicle was struck on the driver side causing the car to spin around and hit a utility pole. Mr. Majette was killed on impact and Ms. Pleas suffered severe and permanent injuries, including a traumatic brain injury. Ms. Pleas was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where she was hospitalized for approximately two weeks.
This terrible collision occurred because a police officer violated principles of proper police conduct by engaging in a high-speed chase in a highly trafficked area near Downtown Portsmouth. The person being chased did not present a danger to the officers or other citizens of Portsmouth until the police officer recklessly engaged in a dangerous chase. Whether the conduct would or could rise to the level of “deliberate indifference” to impugn the City of Portsmouth for civil rights violations was hotly debated and contested.
The City of Portsmouth was insured with an Eleven Million dollar ($11,000,000) per occurrence policy, which afforded coverage for the collision. In light of the damages, Plaintiff’s counsel sent a time-sensitive demand package to the City demanding a policy limits settlement in approximately 30 days time and warning that the City’s carrier’s refusal to resolve this case for full policy limits would likely expose them to an insurance bad faith claim. In response, the City and the carrier asked for clarification and supplementation, which was provided in addition to a 30 day extension to tender 100% of the coverage or the demand would be withdrawn and suit would be filed.
The City and the carrier tendered the full coverage of $11 million on the final day of their deadline. Dr. Scott Sautter provided a complete neuropsychological work-up, which was supplemented by a complete examination and multiple reports by Dr. Nathan Zasler, who both agreed that Ms. Pleas suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury with residual complications. Susan Riddick-Grisham provided exhaustive life care plan and support in assisting the gathering and outline of the damage report and future needs.
The lawsuit arose after the plaintiff suffered a debilitating injury while in the care and supervision of a private coeducational and college preparatory day and boarding school for minor children grades 8 to 12 consisting of day-time academic classes and extra-curricular programs. The plaintiff at the time of injury was 15-years old and was a full-time boarding resident at the school.
Plaintiffs allege that the school was negligent in initiating the service project by having an inexperienced teacher to lead, what plaintiffs claim, never should have been conducted in the first place. The private school claimed that they acted within reasonable care with the selection and approval of the project, and while they were not perfect, they acted with reason.
All defendants filed Pleas in Bar asserting charitable immunity. In August, prior to the hearing on the pleas in bar, the VFW settled its claims with the Plaintiff for the sum total of $750,000. The Court overruled the plea in bar raised by the private school.
The trial against the private school was disputed on liability and damages. The jury deliberated for 4.5 hours and returned a $10,000,000 verdict resulting in an overall recovery for the plaintiff of $10,750,000.
On October 4, 2021, Plaintiff, A. B. (42 years of age) was riding a motorcycle in Virginia Beach when a delivery truck turned left and struck Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s leg was crushed and he was life-flighted to the nearest trauma center. After a few days of repeated surgeries, the doctors decided a below-knee amputation was necessary. Additionally, Plaintiff suffered a fractured femur requiring the placement of an intramedullary rod.
The resolution came weeks before trial. After a full day of mediation, the case settled for a cash payment of $5 million plus a structured settlement that will pay the Plaintiff slightly more than $10,000,000 over his lifetime, resulting in a total recovery in excess of $15 million.
$5 Million Settlement:
The Dangerfield family and Fauquier County have agreed to resolve the wrongful death cases which resulted from a traffic accident between a former deputy in the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and Mr. and Mrs. Dangerfield. The County and the Dangerfield’s have agreed to settle the cases for $5 million, which is the full extent of insurance available for these claims. “This tragedy was unfortunate and avoidable,” says Jeffrey Breit, one of the attorneys for the family. Kevin Biniazan, also counsel for the family, says “the family is grateful that the claims were resolved quickly and without drawn out litigation, but this money could never replace the loss of Mr. and Mrs. Dangerfield. Not a day goes by when the grandchildren don’t ask about their grandparents.”
The County and Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office confirm retraining on policies for proper operation of vehicles has occurred with all Sheriff’s Office personnel. In addition, this and other policies that relate to the safety of law enforcement personnel and general public have and will be on-going in the future to help avoid tragedies like this from every being repeated.
Kevin is a trial attorney who passionately represents individuals injured or harmed by the carelessness of others. Between jury trials and settlements, Kevin has secured more than $100 million for his clients in his first five years of practice.