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 obtained recoveries in the amounts of $3.5 million, $3.45 million and $1.1 million in product liability 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.
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
- Florida Justice Association’s YLS Chairman’s Award (2016-2017)
- Super Lawyers - Rising Star 2018
- 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 six figure settlement that was four times the available policy limits for the mother of a 12 year old boy who was ejected from a vehicle directly into oncoming traffic and killed by a semi truck tractor after the vehicle suffered a tire failure. The insurance company for the driver of the vehicle failed to make appropriate offers to timely settle the case and ultimately paid many times the policy limits to avoid an excess judgement and a bad faith lawsuit. The case is ongoing against the insurance company for failure to preserve crucial evidence.
- 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
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
“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
“Litigating Consumer Product Liability Cases.” Florida Justice Association Ski Seminar, Park City, Utah - February 24, 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.