MATTHEW A. FIORELLO

1550 Southern Blvd., Suite 300
West Palm Beach FL 33406

Phone:  561.686.5005 extension 1328
E-mail: matthew.fiorello@petersonbernard.com

 

Matthew Fiorello is a shareholder in the firm’s West Palm Beach office.  Mr. Fiorello is a native Floridian who was born and raised in South Florida.  Mr. Fiorello has dedicated his practice to the defense of individuals and businesses.  His primary practice areas include Contractor/Road Liability, Motor Vehicle Liability, Premises Liability, Construction Defect, and Criminal Defense.

Mr. Fiorello graduated from Nova Southeastern Law School in 2008.  Before law school, he graduated from Clemson University where he was involved in human factors research which led to a published article in the Journal of Human Factors.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Fiorello spent three years as an Assistant Public Defender in the 17th Circuit (Broward County) where he handled all crimes ranging from Misdemeanor cases to First Degree Felony cases.

State/Court Admissions

  • Florida Bar, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, 2011


Education 

  • B.S. Psychology, Biology, Clemson University, 2005
  • J.D., Nova Southeastern University, 2008 


Affiliations/Memberships

  • Florida Bar
  • Palm Beach County Bar Association
  • Judicial Relations Committee
  • Circuit Civil Practice Committee

Cases

Plumbing leak – defense verdict – “plastic creep”

Matthew Fiorello defended a plumbing client in this Martin County subrogation case.  The plaintiff was an insurance company.  

Plaintiff sued defendant for a leak that occurred in 2014 in an upscale home on the St. Lucie River in Palm City, FL.  Defendant installed all new plumbing and fixtures in 2007 (including toilets and supply lines).  In 2014, it was alleged that the toilet supply line plastic ballcock nut fractured and leaked, causing $192,000 in damage and costs.  It was alleged by plaintiff that defendant used a tool on the hand-tighten-only nut and overtightened the nut causing it to fracture 7 years later.  

Defendant did not dispute the damages, but heavily disputed liability.  Plaintiff called the homeowners to testify that no one had serviced the toilets since 2007 and that no one had serviced the supply line.  Plaintiff also called an expert to testify that the nut was overtightened 7 years prior and that the overtightening caused a phenomenon called “plastic creep” that causes the slow erosion of the plastic which led to the nut fracturing 7 years after it was tightened.   

Defense was able to restrict all of the expert’s causation opinions based on defendant’s voir dire of the expert outside the presence of the jury.  The Judge struck all of the opinions and only allowed the expert to testify that he had photographed the nut, could see a fracture in the nut, and could see tool marks on the nut.  Expert was not permitted to opine about what caused the fracture, when it was fractured, or whether the fracture lead to the leak.  

Defense did not present a case, but examined clients on cross-examination after plaintiff called them in their case in chief.  Defense did not hire an expert.  

The jury deliberated for 30 minutes and returned a verdict of no negligence on the part of the defendant. 

Traffic Light – Bicycle Accident

Matthew Fiorello defended this automobile vs. bicycle accident that took place at night. Defendant was driving an automobile and plaintiff was riding a bicycle.  Plaintiff claims he was stopped at the sidewalk preparing to cross the street.

Defendant claimed he had a red light that turned green and that after stopping and looking both ways he turned right on a green light. Plaintiff claimed that he was stopped at the corner for several seconds and watched the light turn from green to red for defendant.  Plaintiff also claimed that he had lights on the front and rear of his bike and that he was holding a flashlight.

When defendant turned right, the plaintiff entered the crosswalk and defendant struck the plaintiff. Plaintiff was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had medical treatment that day and subsequent cervical discectomy and replacement. Plaintiff hired an accident reconstructionist who made animations and tested the light. Defense did not hire an accident reconstructionist. However, defense medical expert opined that the surgery was not related to the accident.

Defense was able to show that the plaintiff was a convicted felon and with a lengthy history. Plaintiff ended up stipulating that he had 32 felony convictions. Defense argued that the case rested on credibility. The jury agreed and found no negligence on the part of defendant.

Auto Accident – defense fault admitted

Matthew Fiorello defended an auto accident case where plaintiff and defendant were both driving in the same direction on US-1 in Ft. Pierce.  Defendant was a lawn company pulling a trailer behind a dump truck.  Defendant changed lanes and there was a minor collision with plaintiff’s vehicle. No injuries occurred and neither driver was cited by police. 

Subsequently, plaintiff underwent lumbar surgery. At trial, plaintiff’s medical bills totaled approx. $150,000.  At trial, Defendant admitted fault for the accident. However, defense was able to show the plaintiff was on the cell phone at the time of the accident, despite conflicting trial testimony. Jury found defendant 65% at fault and the plaintiff 35% at fault.  

Following set-offs, defense was successful in keeping the verdict within the policy limits and equal to pre-trial offer, as well as avoiding plaintiff’s demand for extra-contractual monies.

Defense Verdict – Bicycle vs. Car

Matthew Fiorello defended a case involving a bicycle vs. car accident.  Defendant was driving a vehicle that collided with a bicycle as it was exiting onto US-1 in Jensen Beach.  Defendant admitted that he never saw the plaintiff prior to the accident.   The plaintiff asked the jury for $190k in past medicals, over $1 million in future medicals, and for past/future pain and suffering for over $10 million.

The jury awarded $20,916.33 and reduced it by 57.5% following the comparative negligence of the plaintiff.  The jury found no permanent injury, and therefore no pain and suffering damages.  This equated to an initial verdict of $8,889.44.  Defense had a set-off for PIP of $10,000, so the net verdict was ZERO. 

Summary judgment in trip and fall case

Matthew Fiorello and Meryl Hoffman Hendrix obtained a summary judgment in favor of Defendant hotel owner/operator in a Port St. Lucie trip and fall case.  Defendant was sued for negligent failure to warn of a dangerous condition, a six inch step up into the hotel room.  Plaintiff had been at the hotel for twelve hours prior to her fall.  She had traversed the alleged dangerous condition (step up) several times prior to her fall.  

Ultimately, Plaintiff tripped and fell exiting the hotel room and suffered injuries to her ankle and back.  

Plaintiff claimed the step up into the hotel room was a dangerous condition of which the Defendant had a duty to warn. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment alleging that the step up into the hotel room was not only open and obvious but was such a condition that required no duty to warn on behalf of the Defendant, the hotel owner/operator.  Defendant argued Florida’s common law does not impose a duty to warn for uneven floor and that the issue complained of was an open and obvious condition for which the Defendant did not have to warn. The Court ruled in Defendant’s favor and granted Motion for Final Summary Judgment with Prejudice.