Personal-injury services focus on helping people when they need it most
When people think of personal-injury cases or lawyers, their first reaction may not be positive. At Lacy, Katzen, Ryen & Mittleman, LLP, this important area of the law reflects only the highest standards of professionalism and service to clients.
“I have the unique opportunity to help people when they are in the greatest need of legal help — often at the most difficult point of their lives, when their livelihood or good health has been taken away and they need representation to right a wrong,” said Managing Partner Peter T. Rodgers, Esq. “I’ve been practicing law for 27 years, as a trial lawyer. The area where I spend most of my time is in personal injury.”
Rodgers sees personal injury as an arena with both emotional and intellectual rewards: “This is a challenging area of the law,” he said. “Every case is unique and different, and presents new challenges. I enjoy the complexity of each new case, especially medical ones — I often have to learn about something completely new. I enjoy that intellec- tual challenge.”
Over the years, according to Rodgers, the firm has handled more than a thousand personal-injury cases. Some people come to Lacy for help with such cases because they already have retained the firm for their other legal needs; others because they have been referred by friends, clients of the firm and even other lawyers. “A lot of these matters come to us from first-time clients,” Rodgers noted. “An injury is likely to be a rather unusual event in someone’s life.”
The firm handles all types of personal-injury cases. The most common cases involve automobile accidents; injuries on a premise or property; product liability — injuries from unsafe or defective products, including consumer items and drugs; hospital- and medical-negligence; and nursing-home negligence.
“We only take those cases that are meritorious,” noted Rodgers.”There has to be real wrongdoing to the client. We often advise people not to initiate a case, because we will not take frivolous cases.”
The firm looks at what an inci-dent may have cost someone before accepting a case. “The nature of disability, lost earnings, future lost earnings, current and future medical expenses — all of these are factors,” said Rodgers.
The other key player in Lacy, Katzen’s personal-injury practice is Jacqueline M. Thomas, Esq., known as a strong advocate for her clients.
“What I find most rewarding about personal-injury work or cases is helping people who have serious problems in their lives,” said Thomas. “They’ve been hurt, are often unable to work, and don’t know whom to turn to for help. We often are their only port in a storm.”
Thomas brings a unique perspective to the personal-injury practice, because she represented insurance companies in the past. Her knowledge of insurance-coverage issues and how insurance companies handle cases are invaluable tools in helping clients.
Clients may recognize Thomas from a photo in a display at the Rochester International Airport promoting St. John Fisher College. “Fisher wanted to start a society for graduates with legal careers, and asked me to be on a steering committee to get the society off the ground,” she recalled.” A feature on law and justice for a commencement brochure became the airport promotion. “Seeing it was a shock, since it’s ‘larger than life,’ but I’ve gotten lots of compliments from people.”
A new mom, Thomas has found that parenthood has affected her view of the law and the work world by giving her a greater appreciation for the consequences of injuries on an entire family, rather than only the injured person. “It is very rewarding to be able to help people through difficult times in their lives,” she said.
Rodgers and Thomas define personal-injury law in terms of the client: “A person whose life has been changed because of another’s negligence feels a deep sense of injustice. The tort law allows an individual to seek justice in a civilized manner.”
"Who's who" — Rodgers and Thomas
Peter Rodgers has a BA from Fordham University; earned his juris doctor degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo; and has been admitted to the New York State Bar and the U.S. District Court, Western District of New York. He joined the firm on graduating from law school in 1976, and has written and lectured frequently on how to develop, present and try personal-injury cases. Rodgers serves as chair of the Grievance Committee for the 7th Judicial District, which reviews complaints against lawyers involving violations of ethical and professional rules. He has served as a trustee of the Monroe County Bar Association; chair of the association’s Courts Committee; and member of its Bench & Bar and Personal Injury Law committees. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association, New York State Trial Lawyers Association; Genesee Valley Trial Lawyers Association; and Association of Trial Lawyers of America and its American Board of Trial Advocates. He is a trustee of McQuaid Jesuit High School. Rodgers enjoys bicycling, skiing and running — he ran in a marathon in Dublin, Ireland — and spending time with his wife and two sons.
Jacqueline Thomas has been practicing law since 1991. She is a Rochester native; one of the first class of girls to go through The Aquinas Institute; and a graduate of St. John Fisher College and Union University’s Albany Law School. She joined Lacy, Katzen in 1994, after working for a firm in Albany but finding that she and her husband preferred to return to Rochester, where they were born and raised. She serves on the Aquinas board of trustees, and has been a volunteer trainer with the Humane Society of Rochester.
New office in Linden Oaks makes it easier for "eastsiders" to receive service
Clients on the “eastside” of the Rochester area have a new resource from Lacy, Katzen. The firm recently opened an office at the Linden Oaks complex to better serve clients in areas such as Brighton, Penfield, Pittsford/Palmyra and other eastern sections of the metropolitan area and county.
“This is basically a convenience, to make it easier for our clients to meet with their attorneys,” said Karen Schaefer, Esq. “People living on the eastside could come downtown to our main office or go out to the Canandaigua office, but this will be closer for many people. It’s ideal — we picked this site because it’s right off I490 at Route 441, and visible from the highway. It’s also accessible via 390 and 590.”
Schaefer, who concentrates her practice in business law and estate planning, wills and related areas, will be the main partner onsite at Linden Oaks. Matthew Ryen and Dan Bryson, who practice in real estate law; and Suzanne Cognata (formerly Amico), who practices matrimonial and family law, also expect to use the new space regularly. “I have many clients in the Brighton-Penfield-Pittsford area. This new site should be especially convenient for them,” Bryson said.
The new office is another example of the firm’s philosophy that “no matter whom you need for any legal issue, our attorneys will be happy to meet clients at the site most convenient for you,” said Ryen.
Please note that there is no “walk-in” service at Linden Oaks; to meet with a Lacy, Katzen attorney there, clients must call first. Just call (585) 454-5650.
Lacy, Katzen, Ryen & Mittleman LLP has been recognized for high professional legal standards and ethics in the 2003 Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, 87th Edition.
The Rochester Business Journal ranked Lacy, Katzen #8 of the 25 largest local law firms. The listing was published in the August 15, 2003, issue.
Lisa Arrington is serving as secretary to the executive board of the Greater Rochester Area Partnership for the Elderly (GRAPE).
Denine Carr is the new Membership chair for the 2003-2004 year for the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA). She received the President’s Award in May 2003 from last year’s outgoing president, now Magistrate Judge Marian Payson, acknowledging her work as last year’s chair of GRAWA’s Family and Careers Committee. Carr spoke about “Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment” at a recent seminar sponsored by the Sterling Institute, and will speak at seminars sponsored by The Council and Lorman in September and November respectively.
Founding Partner Leon Katzen celebrated his 85th birthday in July.
Karen Schaefer has been elected to the Business Law Section council of the Monroe County Bar Association.
The firm newsletter has a new editor, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, whose family is a long-time firm client. She is an award-winning freelance writer/editor who specializes in newsletters and communications for associations, not-for-profit organizations and businesses.