Hudson -- Attorneys Christian R. Patno of McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., and Philip A. Kuri of Elk & Elk Co., work for different firms.
However, the Hudson residents teamed up recently and were co-counsels in a wrongful death suit in which a Cuyahoga County jury awarded the victim's family $39 million. The award is a professional best for both attorneys and the state.
"The case was a personal record for each of us and Ohio," according to Patno. "We have been friends and professional colleagues for years and this was our first joint effort trial together. We had the honor and privilege of representing a wonderful widow and three young children."
Patno and Kuri represented the family of 41- year-old Randy Roginski in their suit against the Shelly Co.
Mr. Roginski was struck and killed July 27, 2010, while working as an inspector on a nighttime highway repaving project along Interstate-271 south in Richfield. Mr. Roginski was struck and killed shortly before midnight.
According to a joint press release from both counselors, Mr. Roginski was "required to work outside the safety of the coned-off repaving area of the left lane, and instead, work in the known recovery zone off to the right of the 65 mph right live lane."
"The jury awarded exactly what we asked for on compensatory damages to provide protection and comfort for the family at the cost saving level Shelly had benefitted from on the night their husband and father had died," Patno said. "We asked them to consider the cost over the 39.1 years of life expectancy Randy had at the time of his tragic death at the age of 41."
The accident "didn't happen too far from Hudson," Kuri said.
Mr. Roginski was placing traffic cones along the side of the road when he was hit, according to Kuri. The speed limit was 65 mph because it was a temporary construction zone, he added.
"The left lane was completely closed down by cones," Kuri said.
The driver who struck Mr. Roginski was driving the speed limit and was "going around a truck," when the accident happened, Kuri added.
The basis for the suite was that "there were certain safety precautions that had to be in place," according to Kuri. Precautions included having three police officers on site, in specific areas.
"Instead, they only had one officer," Kuri said. "Our whole case was that this scenario was foreseeable and they [The Shelly Company] did nothing to protect a known danger."
Jury awarded $19 million in compensatory damages for the family's loss and $20 million in punitive damages against Shelly Company, according to Patno.
The company contended it had done nothing wrong throughout the trial, Patno said.
"We were looking to make the family whole the only way we could. We were also looking to increase safety of all who are forced to navigate the dangers of nighttime repaving operations in Ohio each and every summer," according to Patno.
Patno, who grew up in Vermont, has lived in Hudson since 1997. Kuri, who grew up in Ravenna, has lived in Hudson since 1994.
"The highest prior verdict or settlement was $8.5 million for me and $6.3 million for Phil," Patno said. "Phil is not only an excellent and compassionate lawyer, but he also is one of the nicest individuals I have ever come across."
Both attorneys have been licensed in Ohio since the 1990s.
Patno expects the company to appeal the verdict.
"We won the battle here, but the war has just begun," Patno said. "And, Phil and I are ready for it."