Ben J. Whitman is an attorney at Clark Fountain in West Palm Beach – he concentrates his practice on catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases with an emphasis on automotive product liability matters. Mr. Whitman maintains a state and nationwide practice and is routinely contacted by other lawyers around the U.S. to handle significant litigation matters which require the technical expertise and financial resources required in multi-party litigation and complex liability scenarios. He is currently involved in cases resulting from catastrophic incidents in Florida, Georgia, New York, Missouri, Nevada, Arizona, California and Illinois. In 2018, Mr. Whitman has secured recoveries in the amounts of $3.5 million, $3.45 million, $1.1 million, and $1 million in product liability and trucking accident / heavy truck negligence cases on behalf of his clients.
Mr. Whitman regularly handles cases arising out of incidents involving unsafe, defectively designed vehicles, vehicle components and roadways such as: tire failures, vehicle crashworthiness (roof crush, seatback failure, seatbelt failure), Airbag failure (non deploy or over aggressive deployment), negligent design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of roadway cases. In addition to his automotive product liability practice, Mr. Whitman handles cases involving electrocutions, explosions, construction site / industrial incidents, aerial and scissor lift malfunction / tip over incidents, and consumer products.
Outside of his litigation practice, Mr. Whitman is actively involved with the Florida Justice Association (FJA), an organization devoted to protecting the civil justice system and advocating for the rights of Florida’s citizens and consumers. He is currently serving a two year position on the FJA Board of Directors, serves as the Chair of the FJA Law School Outreach Program, and regularly participates in FJA lobbying efforts in Tallahassee, Florida on behalf of consumers.
Mr. Whitman is also involved in his community with a focus on speaking to elementary aged school children about the practice of law and the justice system. As part of his pro – bono practice, Mr. Whitman has been appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem in various cases where courts require an attorney to review a proposed personal injury settlement on behalf of a minor child and ensure the best interests of the minor child are protected by the settlement and the disbursement of the funds.
Mr. Whitman’s efforts in his litigation practice and the community have resulted in various wards from the FJA as well as his membership in The National Trial Lawyers “Top 40 Under 40” attorneys in Florida for civil litigation, and Florida Super Lawyers as a Rising Start in Product Liability litigation.
Prior to joining Clark Fountain, Mr. Whitman was an attorney at one of Florida’s most established insurance defense firms where he litigated cases on behalf of the world’s largest insurers. His tenure as a defense lawyer provides Mr. Whitman with an insight into the mindset of insurance adjusters, corporate defendants, and defense attorneys in their valuation of claims and litigation strategies. He uses this background to maximize the value of his client’s cases and ensure that they receive full compensation for their injuries. Mr. Whitman’s family is deeply rooted in the practice of law – his father is a highly regarded trial attorney in Jacksonville, Florida and his brother maintains a wide-ranging aviation and business litigation practice in Dallas, Texas.
Contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- J.D., Florida State University
- B.A. Cum Laude, University of Florida
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 - Civil Plaintiff (2018)
- Florida Justice Association’s YLS Chairman’s Award (2016-2017)
- Super Lawyers Rising Star 2018 (Personal Injury – Products: Plaintiff)
- Florida Justice Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award (2017 – 2018)
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- Special Pro Hac Admission in Nevada
- Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Florida Justice Association
- Board of Directors (2018 – 2020 term)
- Chair, Law School Outreach (LSO) Committee
- Board of Director, Young Lawyers section (2016 – 2018 term)
- Member, Auto Insurance Committee
- Member, CLE Committee
Palm Beach County Justice Association
- Chair, Young Lawyers Board (2018)
- American Association For Justice (AAJ)
- Attorney Information Exchange Group (AIEG)
- 2015 -Speaker, Ethical Governance Day (Miami Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust)
- 2016 – Volunteer, Pathfinder High School Scholarship Awards (Academic Excellence Category)
- 2016 – Volunteer, Palm Beach County Bar Association Law Week Mock Trial Program (Panther Run Elementary School – Wellington, Florida)
- 2017 - Volunteer, Palm Beach County Bar Association Law Week Mock Trial Program (Seminole Trails Elementary - West Palm Beach, Florida)
- 2017 - Volunteer, Career Day (Liberty Park Elementary School - Greenacres, Florida)
- 2018 – Volunteer, Palm Beach County Bar Association Law Week Program (Roosevelt Middle School – West Palm Beach, Florida)
- Guardian Ad Litem – appointed by various trial courts to serve as an independent attorney to review settlements on behalf of minor children and ensure they are executed properly and in the best interests of the minor child.
Mr. Whitman was born in Jacksonville, Florida.
- A confidential multi million dollar settlement on behalf of the mother of a young boy who was killed in a tragic motor vehicle incident in Nevada. The child was ejected from a vehicle that was uncontrollable due to a rear axle tire failure and was rolling through a median. The child was ejected from the vehicle and into oncoming traffic and killed by a semi tractor trailer. Claims were brought against the driver of the vehicle, the manufacturer of the tire, and in the automobile insurance company that insured the driver. After extensive litigation involving depositions across the United States and multiple appeals to the Supreme Court of Nevada, the parties were able to reach a settlement prior to trial that appropriately compensated the mother for the loss of her child. The settlements included an extra contractual settlement paid by an insurance carrier for their failure to make appropriate offers to timely settle the case on behalf of their insured driver to avoid an excess judgement and a bad faith lawsuit.
- A seven figure settlement on behalf of a family who lost their husband and father in a tractor trailer incident in upstate New York. Mr. Whitman was retained by a grieving family in Connecticut to investigate why the client’s husband rear ended a tractor trailer on the highway. The firm’s investigation revealed that the tractor trailer driver had been operating a truck in temperatures below zero with diesel fuel that was not treated for cold temperatures and began to gel in the tractor’s fuel lines – causing a rapid loss in speed – and posing a significant safety hazard to motorists on the highway. Despite this mechanical error, the truck driver elected to stay on the highway instead of pulling safely over the side of the road, causing the incident. The insurance company for the driver and trucking company denied all liability and placed 100% of the blame of the accident on the firm’s client. Several months after the incident, the firm filed a lawsuit in West Palm Beach, Florida and began extensive discovery. Forty eight hours after the deposition of the truck driver was completed, the insurance company agreed to settle the case for all of the available insurance proceeds – which will provide financial security for the family and especially the minor children. The settlement was finalized less than one year after the accident.
- A seven figure (full policy limits) settlement on behalf of a man who rear ended a car in front of him and was rendered an incomplete paraplegic when his vehicle’s airbag failed to deploy. The firm was retained after several attorneys turned down the case because the Statute of Repose on the vehicle (and its airbag system) had expired. The prior attorneys concluded there was no viable theory or path to recovery. The firm immediately hired experts to inspect the vehicle and its airbag system and sensors and discovered that the wires on the airbag sensor had been severed which explained why the client’s airbag did not deploy. Further investigation revealed that the passenger seat airbag sensor system wires were severed while the employee of a service plaza was replacing the vehicle’s radiator. Mr. Whitman presented the claim and liability theory of to the insurance company for the service plaza and the case was resolve for the total available amount of insurance in less than thirty days.
- A confidential six figure settlement during a pre lawsuit mediation in Las Vegas, Nevada. As a result of the firm’s past results and ongoing involvement in litigating complex injury and death claims in Nevada, Whitman was retained by an attorney in Las Vegas to present a claim against the insurance company for the driver and owner of a tractor trailer that failed to obey traffic signals and crashed into his sedan – causing significant fractures requiring surgical intervention and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Prior to the firm’s involvement, the insurance company had denied liability and closed their file claiming that the firm’s client was 100% at fault in causing the incident. Through the use of accident reconstruction experts evaluating traffic light sequencing and analyzing the placement of all of the vehicles at the four way intersection where the incident occurred – Whitman was able to convince the insurance company to attend a pre suit mediation conference where they agreed to a confidential settlement that fully compensated for the injuries sustained.
- A confidential settlement on behalf of the survivors of a decedent who was killed while using a scissor lift. The scissor lift was extended to its maximum height when it tipped over, ejecting the decedent. The firm filed a lawsuit and litigated the case for several years before a successful settlement that adequately compensates the survivors for the loss of their family member.
- A confidential settlement with a nationwide trucking company and its employees for their negligence in parking a tractor trailer on the side of an active roadway in Marion County, Florida. Whitman advanced the theory that the truck company’s employee pulled to the side of the road late in the evening without placing warning / lighting devices on the roadway as required by Federal Trucking Regulations that would have alerted the firm’s clients the truck posed a danger to those in the roadway. Due to the defendant’s negligence – the client’s vehicle collided with the parked truck and exploded into flames – causing catastrophic injuries to the clients which resulted in medical bills exceeding $1.5 million dollars. The firm was also able to establish that the trucking company violated its own internal policies by failing to park the truck in the appropriate place on the roadway and provide other motorists with necessary warnings regarding the location of the truck. The truck company agreed to a significant confidential settlement at a pre suit mediation conference.
- A $450,000.00 settlement with a trucking company and its insurance company for an out of state driver following a significant collision on I-95 in in the Davie, Florida area. Whitman engaged the insurance company for the truck and driver very shortly after the claim and was able to convince them to agree to admit liability in order to obviate the need for expensive out of state expert inspection of the tractor and trailer involved in the incident. With that agreement in place, the firm’s client was able to negotiate the settlement with the insurance company based on the extent of her injuries and medical care which included surgery to both knees and treatment for neck and back injuries.
- A series of successful settlements in a wrongful death claim on behalf of a family whose mother was killed because various tire servicers and retailers negligently failed to warn a 79 year old woman that the tires on the rear axle of her vehicle were 13 years old. Tragically, both tires failed - within eight miles of each other - due to oxidation or aging of the tires. When the second tire failed, the vehicle rolled multiple times resulting in the woman's death. Clark Fountain was contacted and retained by out of state attorneys to handle this wrongful death case because of the firm’s prior experience and expertise in handling tire failures and roll over cases. Suit was filed against multiple parties and litigated extensively – over thirty (30) depositions were conducted in over eight different states and multiple days of highly contested pretrial hearings were completed. On the eve of trial, the defendants finally agreed to pay a series of settlements which appropriately compensated the survivors for the loss of their mother.
- A series of confidential settlements on behalf of a retired couple who were operating their RV when a tire on the steer axle failed, causing the RV to leave the highway at high speeds and impact several large trees and resulting in significant injuries to both clients. Mr. Whitman brought and resolved claims against the tire manufacturer, the RV chassis manufacturer, the motorhome manufacturer, and the used re-seller of the RV without having to file a formal lawsuit.
- A successful six figure settlement in a wrongful death case in Melbourne, Florida. One of the more meaningful cases he has been involved in, Mr. Whitman was hired by a family who tragically lost their 29 year old daughter and sister when she was killed while crossing the street by an out of state motorist. The family had been advised by numerous lawyers that the liability was simply too difficult and that no recovery could be made. Mr. Whitman immediately investigated the circumstances of the accident, which included hiring an accident reconstruction expert who traveled to Pennsylvania to inspect the property damage to the vehicle in order to correlate the vehicle damage to the location of the impact with the decedent. Ultimately, the insurance company paid the full policy limits provided under the out of state motorist's policy.
- Policy limits recovery for a woman (nine months pregnant at the time of the incident) who suffered a significant arm fracture as the result of an overly aggressive air bag deployment during a very low speed and low impact collision. Mr. Whitman was retained by another lawyer to investigate the possibility of a products liability case against the manufacturer of the vehicle and airbag system. The firm’s investigation revealed that the vehicle was sold to the client’s family after being involved in multiple prior incidents and was likely rebuilt using untrained mechanics and after-market parts. Initially, the insurance company offered a nuisance value settlement. A lawsuit was filed against the used car dealership that sold the vehicle without warning of the potentially dangerous airbag system and shortly thereafter the case was settled for all of the available insurance proceeds.
- A six figure settlement on behalf of a 27 year old man who had three fingers on his dominant hand unintentionally amputated due to a defectively designed meat grinder. The product at issue was manufactured in Italy, imported to Canada and ultimately the United States where it was placed into the stream of commerce in New York State. The client was utilizing the meat grinder in a commercial kitchen when the injury occurred and Mr. Whitman was able to negotiate a pre suit settlement with the importer and employer.
- A series of confidential settlements on behalf of the family of a loving wife and mother of three daughters who was tragically killed when a drunk driver rear ended the family’s van causing it to leave the roadway and impact a massive concrete pole. Mr. Whitman litigated this case with 17 parties regarding the engineering, design, construction, selection, manufacture, and placement of the concrete pole at issue.
- Consumer Product Liability Cases: Getting Started, AIEG Voice Summer 2018
“Consumer Product Liability: Cases Studies and Pre Suit Strategies.” Attorney Information Exchange Group(AIEG) Fall Conference, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, September 26, 2018.
Current Trends In Automotive Product Liability Cases: After Market Lift Kits and Vehicle / Tire Service Cases.” Florida Justice Association Workhorse Seminar, Orlando, Florida - March 22, 2018.
“Litigating Consumer Product Liability Cases.” Florida Justice Association Ski Seminar, Park City, Utah - February 24, 2018.
“Practical Tips For Preparing For And Taking Depositions As A New Attorney.” Florida Justice Association Law School Outreach Seminar (Florida State College of Law), March 23, 2017
Debris or Defect? What to Look for to Determine if a Tire Blowout was Caused by Road Debris or a Tire Defect.” Florida Justice Association Workhorse Seminar, March 3, 2017