Civil Verdicts & Settlements
$301,000 – Paul came to The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. in need of attorneys who would fight to obtain his deceased brother’s life insurance policy rightfully owed to him as beneficiary. The insurance company denied Paul’s claim to the policy because of an alcohol exclusion within the policy. While the decedent did have alcohol in his system this was not his cause of death. Insurance companies notoriously try to cut corners by denying claims where they are rightfully owed to the client. Our firm obtained copies of the death certificate and aggressively pursued the insurance company until they tendered policy limits to our client.
$1,600,000 – Kimberly was briefly incarcerated in Hillsborough County Jail. While incarcerated the pregnant, Kimberly, began complaining of sharp labor pains and vaginal discharge to the prison health services prior to the child’s birth. The contracted Prison Health Services and Sheriff’s officer disregarded Kimberly’s complaints and her increasingly debilitating state prior to giving birth. Kimberly was forced to remain in her cell and give birth to her child in the cell toilet. Tragically, the child suffered a severe infection of the chorionic sac and died on the way to the hospital. Plaintiff’s counsel vehement belief that both the Prison Health Services and Sheriff’s office negligently failed to appreciate her complaints and to provide proper care, equipment and training in obstetrics to Kimberly, which resulted in the death of her son. The case went to trial and Plaintiff’s counsel obtained a $1.25 million dollar settlement with Prison Health Services during the trial while the jury was deliberating. Counsel had earlier obtained a $350,000 settlement from the Sheriff’s office for violations of their civil rights.
$200,000 – Mariyah and her family came to our firm after she was injured in an auto accident. Mariyah and her friends were stopped on the shoulder of the road attempting to change a flat tire. The Defendant, a drunk driver, slammed into the rear of the parked teenagers and caused significant injuries. There were six (6) total claimants injured in the accident with the total available policy limits of $500,000. The Matassini Law Firm fought aggressively at an early global settlement conference to achieve a $200,000 settlement for our client without having to file a lawsuit and the inevitable delay that would follow.
$200,000 – Reginald was a passenger on a public transportation bus. The bus driver failed to pull to the curb at the designated bus stop to discharge passengers in violation of company policy, which forced Reginald to exit the bus and cross a full lane of traffic. As Reginald was exiting the bus a reckless driver sped past the bus on its passenger side and struck Reginald causing debilitating injuries to his spinal column with subsequent surgery. The Matassini Law Firm was able to quickly obtain policy limits against the reckless driver, however, the bus company denied any negligence on behalf of their driver. The Matassini Law Firm filed a lawsuit and forced the bus company to pay on behalf of their negligent driver. The bus company’s financial responsibility, as a government entity, was limited under Florida’s sovereign immunity laws. The bus company eventually settled at mediation for slightly under the maximum statutory limits they were obligated to pay.
You’re Responsible for Who Drives Your Vehicle
Courtney contacted Nicholas M. Matassini, founder of The Matassini Law firm after she was involved in a terrible traffic crash that resulted in serious spinal cord injuries. She was t-boned by a sixteen-year-old while driving his Dad’s vehicle. Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine is a common law doctrine which provides that the owner of an inherently dangerous tool is liable for any injuries caused by that tool’s operation. Pursuant to Florida law, The Matassini Law Firm was able to pursue the vehicle owner’s insurance company for the negligence of the driver.
Unfortunately, Courtney had prior automobile collisions, which caused her to have a spinal column that was much more susceptible to trauma. The at-fault driver’s insurance company knew this and refused to offer her reasonable money for the surgery Courtney was required to undergo. Courtney’s orthopedic surgeon performed a lumbar laminotomy, which removes a portion of the vertebra in her low back. Courtney’s cervical spine required a total disc replacement in her neck. The discs act as a shock absorber for the vertebras in our spine. When an auto accident causes these discs to rupture or “herniate,” that impact causes a traumatic and permanent injury. Nicholas M. Matassini along with his son and partner, Nicholas G. Matassini, were able to force the insurance company to do the right thing by obtaining a $225,000.00 settlement for Courtney so that she could obtain the quality of care she deserved.
$900,000 – Winnifred was a remarkably healthy and very active 80-year-old senior citizen enjoying her golden years with her husband of over 50 years. Winnifred began having some neck pain due to a degenerative issue and visited a pain management anesthesiologist for cervical epidural steroid injections. The Defendant doctor breached the standard of care and injected the steroid into her spinal column. Tragically, Winnifred sustained a debilitating injury, quadriparesis, which caused muscle weakness and paralysis in her limbs. As a result, a once active woman’s health began to quickly deteriorate and her quality of life was dramatically affected. The clinic that employed the doctor only had $250,000 in insurance coverage available and they refused to even offer that amount, claiming what happened to Winnifred was a known risk of the procedure. After a lawsuit was filed against the clinic and the doctor a settlement was reached and the doctor and his employer paid substantially more than their insurance policy limits. Now Winnifred has the financial means to assist her with nursing care she requires that is not covered by Medicare.
$1,115,000 – Tommy presented to a clinic’s outpatient vascular center to undergo common iliac artery angioplasty, stenting, and external iliac artery angioplasty. The treating physician used an inappropriately sized balloon during the procedure which resulted in the puncture of the external iliac artery. Tommy complained of pain in his flank to the treating physician but no CT scans were conducted and no periprocedural antibiotics were administered. The treating physician imprudently relied on an inadequate study and released Tommy from the hospital. The physician’s negligence led to the development of an infected pseudoaneurysm, sepsis in the left foot, left arm, and the Lumbosacral spine became abscessed. Tommy was left in a debilitated life-altering condition but along with co-counsel, The Matassini Law Firm was able to afford Tommy and his family some financial security.
Criminal Defense Results
Criminal Law: Violent Crimes
State v. C.W.
Charge: Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, 2nd Degree Felony
Maximum Penalty: 15 years Florida State Prison
Result: Case dismissed without formal charges ever having been filed.
Ms. C.W. was home one evening when she received a knock on her door from an angry neighbor. The neighbor, who immediately became aggressive and belligerent, began to quarrel with Ms. C.W. about her children damaging the bicycle of the neighbor’s daughter. A fight ensued between Ms. C.W. and the neighbor. Ultimately the cops were called. Tampa Police Department investigated the case and arrested Ms. C.W. with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and did not charge the neighbor with a crime. Upon learning of the arrest, Ms. C.W.’s employer of several years promptly suspended her and threatened to fire her if the charges did not get dismissed within 30 days.
Attorney Nicholas G. Matassini (Nick Jr.) got the charges dismissed without formal charges ever being filed within 30 days after presenting the State Attorney’s Office with his own independent investigation which contradicted the prosecution’s witnesses and the conclusions of the arresting officers. In addition, Mr. Matassini presented the prosecutor with legal research supporting his theory of defense and Florida statutes immunizing Ms. C.W. from prosecution. Ms. C.W. never even had to go to court to face a judge and Mr. Matassini got her job back.
State v. M.P.
Charges: Arson of a Dwelling; 1st Degree Felony; Burglary of a Dwelling, 2nd Degree Felony.
Maximum Penalty: Adult: 30 years & 15 years Florida State Prison
Juvenile: 18-36 Months Juvenile Prison
Result: Not Guilty verdict at trial on the Arson charge & Guilty of only the lesser charge of misdemeanor Trespass on the Burglary Dwelling count, resulting in minimal juvenile probation.
M.P. was a juvenile when he was arrested for 1st Degree Arson and Burglary of a Dwelling after the cops alleged he and his friends broke into an abandoned apartment and set it on fire. Due to the severity of the charges, the prosecutors considered filing the charges against M.P. as an adult which would have subjected him to a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Attorney Nicholas G. Matassini was able to convince the State Attorney’s Office to keep the charges in juvenile court due to his client’s age, lack of criminal record, academic success, and substantial ties to the community.
During the course of Mr. Matassini’s investigation, it became clear that his client had not started the fire nor did he have anywhere near the level of participation in the crimes that the cops alleged. In fact, it became obvious that M.P.’s other co-defendants were lying about M.P.’s involvement to save themselves from juvenile prison. When it became clear to the prosecution that M.P. was not going to accept a plea offer and was adamant about going to trial, the State cut a deal with the other co-defendants who then agreed to testify against M.P. at trial.
Under vigorous cross-examination by Mr. Matassini, it became obvious to the trial court that the co-defendants were lying and that M.P. did not start the fire and that he was only merely in the apartment without permission for a few minutes. The judge found M.P. Not Guilty of the Arson charge, only finding him guilty of the lesser misdemeanor offense of trespassing in the apartment. M.P.’s only sentence was a few months of probation and a letter of apology.
State v. A.M.
Charge: Domestic Battery by Strangulation, 3rd Degree Felony
Maximum Penalty: 5 years Florida State Prison
Result: Case dismissed without formal charges ever having been filed.
Mr. A.M. was arrested one evening after the cops were called to his house following a domestic incident with his wife. The arresting officers concluded in their report that the wife had suffered injuries when she was strangled by her husband during a fight. Attorney Nicholas G. Matassini and his staff conducted their own interviews with the wife and the couple’s neighbors and determined that both the husband and the wife were at fault as they had been drinking heavily and bickering with one another all night. The wife had apparently told this to the cops who arrived on the scene. She also told them she did not want to prosecute her husband. According to the wife, the cops told her that they had to take him to jail anyway. So they did.
After meeting with the prosecutor and presenting him with an affidavit from the wife and a mental health and substance abuse evaluation done by a defense expert hired by Mr. Matassini, the charges were dismissed without formal charges ever being filed.
State v. A.R.
Charges: Burglary of a Dwelling with a Battery, PBL 1st Degree Felony; Domestic Violence Battery, 1st Degree Misdemeanor; & Criminal Mischief, 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Maximum Penalty: Life in Prison for the felony; 364 days county jail for the misdemeanors
Result: Reduced charges with no formal judicial conviction and probation.
Mr. A.R. was involved in a domestic altercation with the mother of his son. One day when he could not get in contact with the mother after his son had been hospitalized, Mr. A.R. went over to the mother’s residence and asked to see how his son was doing. The mother refused to let him in. An argument followed and the cops were called. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation and concluded that Mr. A.R. has forced his way into the residence and broke the front door in the process. Additionally, it was alleged that Mr. A.R. committed a battery upon the mother when she would not let Mr. A.R. see his son. The arresting deputy charged Mr. A.R. with an offense punishable by life in prison and two misdemeanors.
Nicholas G. Matassini and his wife Christina Matassini were successful in getting the life felony reduced to a second-degree felony before formal charges were filed, thereby reducing Mr. A.R.’s maximum potential sentence from life in prison to 15 years in prison. After formal charges were filed the Matassini’s built up a vigorous defense to the charges and were not going to let their client face 15 years in prison. Mr. A.R. only had one prior misdemeanor on his record. The defense was ready for trial when an agreement was made between the defense and the prosecution.
Before trial, the prosecutors agreed to further reduce the 2nd Degree Felony charge to a 3rd Degree Felony and offer Mr. A.R. probation with a withhold of adjudication on all counts. This means that Mr. A.R. is not a convicted felon and is eligible to have these charges sealed at the end of his probation. The successful resolution of this case saved Mr. A.R.’s career and his relationship with his son.
State v. C.N.
Maximum Penalty: 364 days in county jail
Result: Case dismissed the morning of trial.
Ms. C.N. was helping her brother out one day with a child custody issue by going to pick up her niece from a sheriff’s office substation. Ms. C.N. was going to meet the maternal grandmother of the child and take her niece to her brother’s house. When the exchange was going to take place the maternal grandmother started making unreasonable demands and became angry with Ms. C.N. Ultimately it was alleged that Ms. C.N. battered the maternal grandmother when she tried to take the child. The battery allegation was a fabrication and completely untrue.
Ms. C.N. had no prior criminal record and had been a lifelong resident of this community. She had a good job and a family of her own. Attorney Nicholas G. Matassini wrote the State Attorney’s Office a letter and explained to them that they must drop the charges or this case would have to go to trial. There was no way Mr. Matassini was going to let his client plea out to a crime she did not commit.
The State Attorney’s Office, realizing the case was weak and that Ms. C.N. had no prior criminal record, offered Ms. C.N. a diversion program similar to probation. Mr. Matassini told them again they would not accept any offers and that if they did not drop the charges the case would have to be litigated in front of a jury.
With the maternal grandmother and her family persisting that the charges not be dropped, the case was set for trial on a Monday morning. On the morning of trial, the case was ultimately dismissed by the State after the prosecutor and her supervisor realized that the State did not have a reasonable likelihood of conviction.
State v. C.E.
Charge: Fighting in Public (Affray), 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Maximum Penalty: 364 days county jail
Result: Not Guilty at trial
Ms. C.E. was getting her hair done at a beauty salon when she became involved in a large fight inside the business. Other patrons of the business began yelling obscenities at her and her family. An investigation by the Tampa Police Department concluded that Ms. C.E. was not acting in self-defense but was an aggressor in the incident. Formal charges were filed before The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. was retained to defend the case.
Attorney Nicholas G. Matassini was able to uncover several inconsistencies in the testimony of the State’s witnesses through rigorous cross-examination at trial. Ultimately, the trial court agreed with Mr. Matassini’s theory of defense and found Ms. C.E. was not guilty.
State v. J.G.
Charges: Fighting in Public (Affray), 1st Degree Misdemeanor; Resisting Arrest, 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Maximum Penalty: 364 days county jail on each count
Result: No formal conviction and only court costs.
Mr. J.G. was out at Guavaween having a good time when he became involved in a fight with other partygoers. The cops responded and tried to break up the fight to no avail. Ultimately, the cops had to use physical force to subdue the participants and loaded everyone on the paddy wagon and hauled them to jail. Mr. Matassini successfully convinced the judge that his client did not need probation and that he did not deserve a criminal conviction. The judge agreed and Mr. J.G. walked out of court without any criminal conviction and only having to pay minimal court costs.
Criminal Law: Drug Charges
State v. K.R.
Charges: Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell or Distribute within 1000 Feet of a School, 1st Degree Felony; Tampering with Evidence, 3dr Degree Felony; Resisting Arrest, 1st Degree Misdemeanor; Trespass, 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Maximum Penalty: 30 years Florida State Prison for the 1st Degree Felony, 5 years Florida State Prison on the 3rd Degree Felony, and 364 county jail on the Misdemeanors.
Result: All new charges and the violation of probation dismissed after the Defense motion to suppress evidence was granted.
K.R. was a young adult who was on probation for some very serious drug charges when he arrested again by the Tampa Police Department for essentially the same offenses for which he was previously placed on probation. When attorney Nicholas G. Matassini met K.R. for the first time he was in handcuffs and an orange county jail jumpsuit. K.R. had been denied bond on his new charges and for his violation of probation. Before The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. was hired, K.R. was told he was going to sit in jail until he could resolve all his charges. As it was, K.R. was looking at a minimum sentence of 6.5 years and as many as 60 years in prison.
Mr. Matassini immediately scheduled a bond hearing before the court and presented evidence that K.R. was eligible and accepted to attend an in-patient residential substance abuse treatment program. The judge agreed and allowed K.R. out of jail to attend the program. In the meantime Mr. Matassini started working on a vigorous defense to the sole reason K.R. was stopped by the cops in the first place – he was a young black male riding his bike in the projects.
Nicholas G. Matassini filed a lengthy motion to suppress the evidence in the case. On the day of the hearing on the motion, in a rare and noble turn of events, the State told Mr. Matassini that they agreed with his legal argument and that the State would not be opposing his motion to throw out the evidence. The judge then granted the defense motion to dismiss the new charges and the violation of probation. K.R. walked out of court a free man.
State v. S.J.
Charges: Possession of 1 pound of Marijuana, 3dr Degree Felony
Maximum Penalty: 5 years Florida State Prison
Result: Case dismissed during the trial by the judge for lack of evidence
S.J. was at school one day when the cops came to his house and knocked on his parents’ door and started asking questions and making accusations that he was a drug dealer. A confidential informant had given them information about S.J. and a few other people in the neighborhood. The cops brought over a K9 unit and began running the dog around all the cars in the parking lot. The dog alerted to a car that was allegedly owned by one of S.J’s family members. The cops then proceeded to pick the lock of the trunk and search inside. The cops found approximately 1 pound of marijuana in the trunk.
The cops decided to arrest S.J. for felony possession of marijuana based on the informant’s tip that S.J. was selling drugs and that the marijuana was found in a family vehicle. There was no direct evidence linking S.J. to the marijuana —no fingerprints, no eye witness testimony, and no admissions from S.J.
Nicholas G. Matassini of The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. was hired to litigate the case at trial. During the trial, the judge found the evidence linking S.J. to the felony amount of marijuana so lacking that she dismissed the case without Mr. Matassini even having to put on a defense witness.
State v. D.P.
Charges: Trafficking in Cocaine, 1st Degree Felony with 3 years minimum mandatory.
Maximum Penalty: 30 years Florida State Prison with a 3 year minimum mandatory.
Result: Charge reduced to possession of cocaine and client offered a diversion program
Ms. D.P. was arrested one evening after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at her home and found trafficking amounts of cocaine. The cops were after her boyfriend who they believed was storing the cocaine within the home. Despite the fact that the cops did not believe D.P. had anything to do with the buying and selling of cocaine, they still arrested her for Trafficking.
After The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. was hired Nicholas G. Matassini immediately took the depositions of the detectives in order to find out the legal and factual basis upon which the search warrant was issued. Mr. Matassini then filed a lengthy motion to suppress the search warrant and set if for hearing. Before the hearing was to commence the State, realizing they may lose their entire case, wanted to plea bargain with D.P. and offered to drop the Trafficking charge down to simple possession and allow her into the diversion program. This means that after the completion of the diversion all charges are dismissed. Now D.P. can focus on getting her life back on track and taking care of her children.
State v. N.H.
Charges: Possession of Cocaine, 3rd Degree Felony; Possession of Marijuana, 1st Degree Misdemeanor; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Maximum Penalty: 5 years Florida State Prison on the Felony & 364 days in county jail on the misdemeanors
Outcome: Case dismissed by judge
Ms. N.H. was in the wrong place at the wrong time one night. She caught a ride with an old friend and was going to attend a party with him when their car was stopped by the cops for an expired tag. Upon approaching the vehicle the cop said he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the window. After a search of the car, the cops found cocaine and only fresh marijuana in proximity to N.H. So, they arrested her and took her to jail.
N.H. hired The Matassini Law Firm. P.A. to defend the case. The State’s plea offer was three years of rigorous drug offender probation or one year in the county jail. N.H. declined both and asked Nicholas G. Matassini to try and beat the charges. After taking depositions of the arresting officers it became clear that the State did not have any other evidence to connect N.H. to the contraband other than her proximity to it and the alleged smell of burnt marijuana coming from the car. This was legally insufficient. Mr. Matassini filed a motion to dismiss and attached copies of the officer’s depositions. The week before trial the motion to dismiss was heard and granted. N.H. was then eligible to have the entire case expunged from her record.
Criminal Law: DUI Cases
State v. D.W.
Charge: Driving Under The Influence and Resisting Arrest
Maximum Penalty: 60 days jail, 12 months probation with many community service hours and fines, plus an additional license suspension on the DUI; 364 days in county jail on the Resisting charge.
Result: Reduced charge of Reckless Driving on the DUI. No convictions on either charge and only court costs assessed.
This was a trial case from the get-go as the evidence on the DUI was slim but the facts supporting the Resisting Arrest charge were solid. Because the case involved allegations that D.W. got into an altercation with the cops at the scene of his arrest, the State would not make a reasonable plea offer on either charge. Nicholas G. Matassini and Christina Matassini set the case for trial and filed motions with the Court seeking to limit the testimony of the cops.
On the day of trial the State, however, was not prepared to go forward. Mr. Matassini and his client watched as the State scrambled to see if they could find their officers —- on a case they were so “Gung Ho” about prosecuting that they would not even make a reasonable offer before trial. When the judge realized the State was not prepared he voiced his displeasure and told them they better rethink their plea offers.
The case was resolved with a reduction of the DUI charge to Reckless Driving. On both counts, the court withheld adjudication (no formal conviction and no points on driving record) and only assessed court costs. This is the lowest sanction you can receive from the court. D.W. walked out of court without being on probation and eligible to have both charges immediately sealed from his record.
State v. D.G.
Charges: Driving Under the Influence and Failure to Maintain Single Lane
Maximum Penalty: 60 days jail, 12 months probation with many community service hours and fines, plus an additional license suspension on the DUI; Fines and points on the traffic infraction.
Result: Reduced charge of Reckless Driving on the DUI and dismissal of the traffic tickets. No conviction on the Reckless charge and only minimal probation, community service hours, and court costs assessed.
D.G. was driving down Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa when he was pulled over for weaving and failing to maintain his car within his lane — in South Tampa, at night, that means your DUI to the cops. Field sobriety exercises were performed in a parking lot and, of course, the cops said D.G. failed them all. He was arrested and taken to jail where he refused to provide a breath sample. He could not bond out for ten hours.
After hiring The Matassini Law Firm D.G. felt much better about his chances of not having a DUI on his record. Nicholas G. Matassini filed a motion attacking the legality of the traffic stop. Fortunately, a reasonable prosecutor who was well-educated in traffic stop law had been assigned to the case and quickly realized the motion may have success. A plea deal was then made whereby the DUI charge would be reduced to a Reckless Driving with minimal probation, community service hours, and court costs. The civil traffic infraction would be dismissed, saving D.G. another $200. After his probation is done, D.G. will be eligible to have his arrest sealed from his record.
Criminal Appellate Case Results
United States v. Victor Otero-Pomares, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, 15-13024
Nicholas G. Matassini recently had a sentence vacated and remanded in a Federal maritime drug trafficking case. Matassini was called for oral argument before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and successfully argued, along with co-counsel for the other convicted sailors, that the 19-year prison sentence handed down to his client, a poor Colombian fisherman with no prior record and no local ties, should be vacated. Matassini insisted all along that the trial court committed significant legal errors at sentencing.
At sentencing, the trial court did not sufficiently consider the individual characteristic of each defendant nor the various mitigating factors present. In addition, the judge did not make individualized findings regarding the weight of the drugs attributable to each mariner.
As a result, the judge improperly handed down a blanket 19-year prison sentence for each convicted mariner. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Defense in a rare victory for those convicted of smuggling drugs on the high seas.
State v. Jonathan Fernandez, Second District Court of Appeals, 2D13-2998
In a lengthy narcotics wiretap investigation which culminated in multiple trafficking charges against his client, Nicholas G. Matassini was successful in forcing the prosecution to release significant, highly relevant information about a cooperating witness. The prosecution fought this issue tooth and nail but Matassini persisted and the trial court agreed that the information must be turned over to the Defense. The prosecution still resisted and filed a notice of appeal, determined to protect the informant, and withhold valuable information from the Defense.
The Second District Court of Appeals agreed with Matassini and ordered that the prosecution must turn over the requested information.
State of Florida vs. Michel Gonzalez (Fernandez II), Second District Court of Appeals, 2D14-4147
In a protracted continuation of the first Fernandez appeal on an informant’s statements, the prosecution continued to refuse to disclose the required information and statements. The prosecution forced another ruling by the trial court, a merit-less action that severely tested the combined patience of the trial judge and the Defense. Nevertheless, Nicholas G. Matassini persisted and was successful once again. The appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court ordering the disclosure. The informant was unmasked and the information was obtained.
State v. Nestor Garcia, Second District Court of Appeals, 2D03-529
The Matassini Law Firm was successful in suppressing the evidence in a cocaine trafficking prosecution because the cops omitted critical information in the search warrant and ultimately deceived the issuing magistrate. The affidavit in support of the search warrant omitted several material facts that if considered by the magistrate would have changed the finding of probable cause. The affidavit most importantly omitted the fact that the informant was working in lieu of charges, the Defendant was never seen during the first meeting which was not controlled, visual was lost on him during the meeting in the grocery store parking lot because he entered the store and the informant had not purchased cocaine from the Defendant in two months. The appellate court agreed with The Matassini Law Firm and the charges were dismissed.