Ben J. Whitman is a partner of Clark Fountain in West Palm Beach, Florida, and focuses his nationwide practice on catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases as a result of defective products, commercial trucking accidents, negligent security, and complex liability cases.
Some of the most notable verdicts and settlements include a record-breaking verdict of $200 million against the world’s largest ski boat manufacturer for the family of a 7-year-old boy tragically killed by a defectively designed ski boat.
In another case, Ben obtained a $5,250,000.00 binding arbitration award against a construction company on behalf of a young woman backed over by a skid steer loader on an active construction site.
Ben has also secured numerous seven-figure settlements including $4,750,000.00 for the family of a young girl with catastrophic injuries caused by a negligently serviced and inspected vehicle, and $1,900,000.00 for a man injured in a utility electrical injury incident.
Many lawyers throughout Florida and the United States refer to Ben as an expert in complex liability cases, which often involve multiple parties, technical issues, or significant financial resources to pursue.
Ben has handled cases in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, West Virginia, Ohio, and Nebraska.
Ben has represented victims injured in accidents involving commercial trucks, automotive product defects, defective consumer products, electrocutions, explosions, construction site accidents, defective construction and industrial equipment, premises liability, and negligent security. Ben has handled automotive product defect cases against nearly every major automobile manufacturer in the world and has handled electrocution cases against nearly every major utility company in the state of Florida.
Outside of his litigation practice, Ben is actively involved with various organizations devoted to protecting the civil justice system and the rights of injured citizens and consumers including the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Florida Justice Association (FJA), and the Palm Beach County Justice Association (PBCJA). Ben has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Justice Association since 2018, sits on various legislative committees that seek to protect consumers’ rights in the lawmaking process in Tallahassee during each legislative session, and has been actively involved in the FJA Law School Outreach program.
For two consecutive years, Ben has been selected by his peers for the Best Lawyers of America. He has also been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers®, a credential he shares with less than 2.5% of Florida lawyers. The Rising Star title honors lawyers under the age of 40 who have been practicing for less than 10 years. He has achieved an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, which denotes the highest standard of professional ability and ethical standards. The South Florida Legal Guide, published by South Florida Business and Wealth, named Ben a 2020 “Top Up and Comer Attorney.” In 2020, the Florida Justice Association awarded Ben the “Bronze Eagle” award for his continued work in the legal community.
In our local community, Ben volunteers his time by speaking to and mentoring school-aged children about Florida Laws and the Justice system. As part of his pro bono practice, Ben has been appointed as a guardian ad litem in many cases where courts require an attorney to review a proposed personal injury settlement on behalf of a minor child to ensure the best interests of the child are protected by the settlement and the disbursement of the funds.
Ben J. Whitman Obtains $2M Settlement for Lawn Maintenance Employee
Firm client was using a riding lawn mower to mow the grass on the shoulder of a Palm Beach County roadway. The riding mower, provided by his employer, became unstable and ejected the client causing his right leg to be amputated above the knee by the mower’s spinning blades.
Initially, the employer and its related companies denied all liability and claimed the only remedy for the client was through Workers’ Compensation.
Partner Ben J. Whitman conducted an investigation which revealed that the lawnmower was owned and maintained by a different entity than the client’s employer.
The lawnmower was equipped with a kill switch, a safety device built into the operator’s seat. The purpose of the kill switch is simple yet critical – to 1) stop the mower from operating and 2) stop the blades from turning when the operator’s weight is removed from the seat.
The investigation further revealed that the owner of the mower had purposefully disabled the kill switch so his workers would complete their tasks faster. By disabling the kill switch, the owner prevented the blades from stopping when the client was ejected resulting in his devastating injuries.
A few months after retaining Clark Fountain, Ben J. Whitman successfully obtained the full policy limits of $2,000,000 from the lawnmower owner and his insurance company for their blatant negligence.
Clark Fountain was retained to investigate an automobile crash in Miami-Dade County, where a 16-year-old girl was ejected from the vehicle she was riding in as a front-seat passenger. The crash left her paralyzed from the waist down and caused catastrophic facial fractures and injuries, resulting in the loss of one eye. As a result, our client incurred nearly $10 million in hospital and medical bills and faced a future projected medical cost of up to $20 million. Attorney Ben J. Whitman preserved the vehicle from a junkyard in Miami just hours before it was scheduled to be destroyed.
Clark Fountain presented claims against 16 defendants, including the driver of the vehicle, who was traveling 90 mph on a highway off-ramp at the time of the accident; the vehicle manufacturer for failing to include a side curtain airbag in the vehicle design – a critical safety feature that may have prevented our client from sustaining such catastrophic injuries; the prior owner of the vehicle for negligent sale; and, the engineers and construction companies involved in the most recent lane widening projects on the roadway where the accident occurred. The firm also brought claims against multiple companies that serviced, inspected, and maintained the tires and brakes of the vehicle. In addition to significant liability issues, the firm was able to overcome insurance coverage disputes after some of the defendant insurance companies claimed there was no coverage for this young woman’s significant loss.
Ultimately, the firm obtained confidential settlements against all parties, which will ensure our client can afford her future healthcare needs and has allowed her parents to purchase a handicapped accessible home.
A 25-year-old man died while working in a rural Florida factory after he was pinned and crushed to death between a 12,000-pound commercial machine and a steel girder. Partner Donald Fountain and Attorney Ben J. Whitman filed suit against eight defendants, including the designer and manufacturer of the commercial machine, the owner/operator of the facility where the death occurred, the man’s employer, four co-workers, and the staffing agency contracted to provide labor personnel.
Our client’s son was working as part of a team to remove a large commercial conveyor belt from an overhead track and replace it with a new conveyor belt using a custom-designed belt winder. Due to the physical size and weight of the belt winder, a crane was required to place it in position. The belt winder was positioned in close proximity to a steel support tower, and wood shims were used to level the machine. The belt winder was not anchored to the ground.
During the replacement process, the belt became stuck and created enough tension to cause the unsecured belt winder to suddenly slide rapidly forward and collide with the nearby steel support tower. Our client’s son was caught between the steel support tower and the belt winder and died from crush-related injuries. Shortly before trial, and following extended mediation, the parties reached a significant confidential settlement.
A confidential multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of a 50-year-old man who was rendered paraplegic after being electrocuted and falling 20 feet to the ground was successfully resolved by Attorney Ben Whitman. The firm’s client was trimming sabal palm trees with a chainsaw while on a ladder in a residential neighborhood on the west coast of Florida when a palm frond made contact with a 7,620 volt uninsulated utility wire and caused him to fall to the ground and break his neck. Whitman was retained to investigate any avenue of recovery and presented claims against the homeowner, the owner of the utility line, and multiple tree trimming / vegetation management contractors hired by the owner of the utility line. Various liability theories were argued including the property owner’s failure to warn, the utility line owner’s failure to employ appropriate vegetation management cycles, and the vegetation management contracts failure to appropriately carry out the assigned trimming plans. Due to the firm’s prior success in handling electrocution and utility injuries, the case was resolved at a mediation conference before a lawsuit was filed. The settlements will ensure the client will have appropriate health care and financial stability in the future.
A confidential settlement on behalf of two cousins was reached by Attorney Ben Whitman after they each sustained severe facial and head trauma while leaving a club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Our clients were attacked upon exiting an elevator. The attackers were unknown to our clients and never identified or charged. After multiple attempts to reach the defendants went unanswered, a local attorney referred the case to the firm due to its complexity. The event space had multiple property owners and several lease agreements. Despite the complicated nature of the building ownership, and the original unresponsiveness of the defendants, Ben J. Whitman was able to demonstrate the companies that promoted the event and the owner of the event space failed to take appropriate measures to provide reasonable security and prevent harm.
A confidential multimillion-dollar settlement was reached by Attorney Ben Whitman 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. Whitman brought claims against the driver of the vehicle, the manufacturer of the tire, and against 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 was achieved by Attorney Ben Whitman on behalf of a family who lost their husband and father in a tractor trailer incident in upstate New York. 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 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 percent 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 was achieved by Attorney Ben Whitman 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. Whitman presented the claim and liability theory to the insurance company for the service plaza and the case was resolved for the total available amount of insurance in less than 30 days.
Attorney Ben Whitman resolved 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 percent 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 was obtained by Attorney Ben Whitman. 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 compensated the survivors for the loss of their family members was achieved.
Attorney Ben Whitman achieved 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 that 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 that 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 settlement was achieved by Attorney Ben Whitman with a trucking company and its insurance company for an out-of-state driver following a significant collision on I-95 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.
Attorney Ben Whitman secured 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. The firm 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. More than 30 depositions were conducted in more than 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 that appropriately compensated the survivors for the loss of their mother.
A series of confidential settlements was secured by Attorney Ben Whitman 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, resulting in significant injuries to both clients. Whitman brought and resolved claims against the tire manufacturer, the RV chassis manufacturer, the motorhome manufacturer, and the used reseller of the RV without having to file a formal lawsuit.
Attorney Ben Whitman secured a successful six-figure settlement in a wrongful death case in Melbourne, Florida. One of the more meaningful cases he has been involved in, 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. 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.
Attorney Ben Whitman secured a policy to limit recovery for a woman who suffered a significant arm fracture as the result of an overly aggressive airbag deployment during a very low speed and low impact collision. The woman was nine months pregnant at the time of the incident. Whitman was retained by another lawyer to investigate the possibility of a product liability case against the manufacturer of the vehicle and airbag system. The firm’s investigation revealed 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 was successfully concluded by Attorney Ben Whitman. 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. The client was utilizing the meat grinder in a commercial kitchen when the injury occurred. Whitman was able to negotiate a pre suit settlement with the importer and employer.
A series of confidential settlements was secured by Attorney Ben Whitman 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. Whitman litigated this case with 17 parties regarding the engineering, design, construction, selection, manufacture, and placement of the concrete pole at issue.
A confidential settlement on behalf of a mother and father who lost their 15-year-old son was reached by Attorney Ben J. Whitman and the Clark Fountain team. A father, mother and their 15 and 19-year-old sons were all properly seat belted and stopped at a red light when their vehicle was struck from behind by an impaired driver. The impact of the crash caused the driver’s seat to collapse rearward, striking the 15-year-old boy and causing fatal head injuries. When the driver’s seat back abruptly reclined into the rear occupant compartment, the pocketed design of the internal horizontal steel braces in the upper part of the seatback captured and held the young man’s face and head, causing his fatal injuries.
Attorney Ben J. Whitman and the Clark Fountain team successfully obtained a confidential settlement in a wrongful death airplane crash. During a flight from Tennessee to Wisconsin, a portion of the wing and/or engine detached from the aircraft, causing it to break apart mid-air, and ultimately crash in Illinois. The pilot was killed in the crash.
Attorney Ben J. Whitman and the Clark Fountain team secured a confidential settlement for a leg amputee after a tractor towing a mower deck ran him over. The transmission had been adjusted in such a manner that it had a “false neutral” defect.
A confidential settlement was reached by Attorney Ben J. Whitman in a negligent security case after a truck driver sustained two gunshot wounds during a robbery.
- Consumer Product Liability Cases: Getting Started, AIEG Voice Summer 2018
“Utility Company, Tree Trimmer Contractor, and Arborist Liability in Electrocution Cases” – Florida Justice Associations 2022 Advanced Trial Skills Seminar, Orlando, Florida, June 2022
“Electrocution, Utility Injuries & Aerial Lift Devices Cases” – Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG) Annual Spring Seminar, Birmingham, AL- April 2022
- “Intake & Sign Up – Preserving Evidence, Identifying and Preserving Product Defect and “Hidden” Causes of Actions” – Florida Justice Associations 2022 Boot Camp Webinar, April 2022
- “Roadway Design Cases” – Florida Justice Associations 2022 Workhorse Seminar, Orlando, Florida – March 2022
- “Litigating Modified Vehicle Defect Cases” – Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG) Conference, Napa, California – October 2021
- “Products Defect / Complex Litigation Cases – How to Avoid Legal Malpractice” – Palm Beach County Justice Association, Webinar – July 2021
- “Strict Liability and Heavy Commercial Trucks” – Florida Justice Associations 36th Annual John Romano’s Workhorse Virtual Seminar, February 2021
- “Consumer Product Liability Cases” – American Association for Justice Amped Up Virtual Event, July 2020
- “Avoiding Product Liability Legal Malpractice Pitfalls.” – Broward County Bar Association, Delray Beach, Florida – December 18, 2019
- “New Lawyer: First Day on the Job.” – Florida Justice Association Law School Outreach Program Lecture Series; Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando – October 15-17, 2019
- “Aerial Device and Landscaper Electrocution Case Strategies.” – Broward County Trial Lawyers Association, Coral Springs, FL – May 7, 2019
- “How to Spot Products Cases.” – Palm Beach County Justice Association Facebook Channel via Facebook Live, West Palm Beach, FL – March 8, 2019
- “Liability Theories and Litigation Strategies in Electrocution & Utility Cases.” – Florida Justice Association John Romano’s Workhorse Seminar, Orlando, FL – February 20, 2019
- “Tire Retailer Negligence (Negligent Sale, Service, Placement, Inspection, Failure to Warn)” – Florida Justice Association Ski Seminar, Park City, Utah – January 18, 2019
- “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: Aftermarket Lift Kits and Vehicle / Tire Service Cases.” – Florida Justice Association John Romano’s 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