Philip G. Pizzuto
Philip G. Pizzuto concentrates his practice in the areas of complex litigation and insurance coverage matters.
Mr. Pizzuto has over 18 years of experience in all aspects of civil tort litigation, concentrating in toxic tort, labor law, products liability, premises and municipal liability, medical malpractice and federal/state FCRA cases. He has extensive litigation and trial experience in both state and federal courts. Mr. Pizzuto has tried cases in all New York City venues and obtained numerous favorable jury verdicts. In addition, Mr. Pizzuto has presented on litigating and trying toxic tort claims and has been a guest lecturer at the New York City Law Department’s Trial Advocacy Program at Fordham University School of Law.
Before joining the firm, Mr. Pizzuto was first-chair trial attorney for Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass, where he tried numerous toxic-tort and labor law claims, and The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law firm, where he concentrated on medical malpractice cases. Prior to that Mr. Pizzuto was with The New York City Law Department, Special Litigation Unit, where he defended the City's high-exposure tort claims, including one of the nation's largest infant lead-paint poisoning trials and a catastrophic injury case stemming from the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash.
In the ferry case, where liability had previously been established against the City, Mr. Pizzuto tried the case to verdict before the Honorable Jack Weinstein, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Notwithstanding the sympathetic nature of the case, along with the negative press surrounding the City’s defense of the claim, the jury rendered a favorable verdict to the defense, declining to award plaintiff the extraordinary amounts requested by his attorney in summation.
In another notable matter, Mr. Pizzuto obtained a favorable verdict in a police excessive force case that was tried before a Brooklyn jury in the Supreme Court, Kings County. The case involved the alleged wrongful shooting of the plaintiff, who threatened an off-duty corrections officer. The plaintiff allegedly suffered extensive and permanent injuries. In summation, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury return a verdict in excess of $20 million dollars. After extensive deliberation, the jury rendered its verdict that amounted to a net recover for plaintiff of less than $80,000.
Mr. Pizzuto was also one of the first attorneys assigned to handle a matter stemming from the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack. In that claim, soon after the attack, the claimant alleged that the City of New York’s Medical Examiner committed negligence in identifying a body during the recovery process at ground zero. The case received much media attention and, after some critical discovery was exchanged, including the vigorous defense of the City by Mr. Pizzuto, the claim was ultimately withdrawn.
Mr. Pizzuto is among the most experienced attorneys in defending infant-lead poisoning cases, having been a lead member of the New York City Law Department’s Lead Paint Unit for several years. While in the Unit, Mr. Pizzuto litigated and tried numerous cases, achieving dismissals in many cases and favorable settlements and/or results at trial. One of the largest lead paint cases in the nation, wherein 19 children from the same family sued the City and other defendants, alleging permanent and irreversible brain damage from over ten years of chronic lead exposure. Mr. Pizzuto was lead counsel for the City of New York. At trial, plaintiffs’ attorneys demanded in excess of $25 million to settle the case and their economist projected future lost earnings totaling over $250 million. After approximately three months of trial in the Supreme Court, Kings County, the parties reached a settlement.
Mr. Pizzuto was also successful in obtaining the dismissal of a lead paint case brought against the City, wherein plaintiff was allegedly exposed to lead paint and claimed that the City’s Department of Health was negligent in its enforcement/inspection of the privately owned building. That case, Harris v. Llewellyn, was eventually argued before the Court of Appeals in Pelaez v. Seide, 2 N.Y.3d 186 (2004), wherein the Court’s ruling essentially barred all future similar actions against municipalities because of the government’s secondary and protective role in such cases. Post Pelaez, the City significantly reduced its backlog of lead paint cases by settling such claims for nuisance value and realized a substantial drop in future similar claims.
Recently, Mr. Pizzuto defended a claim at trial wherein plaintiff claimed that his employer instructed him to perform construction work on an unstable ladder placed on a circular stairwell rather than erect scaffolding, which plaintiff claimed was not provided to him in violation of Labor Law section 240(1). Plaintiff was injured when he fell from the ladder, suffering extensive spinal injuries which required fusion surgery, and plaintiff claimed that he was permanently disabled. Plaintiff’s attorneys demanded in excess of $4,000,000 to settle the claim. At trial, Mr. Pizzuto was successful at barring plaintiff’s construction expert from offering any opinions to the jury. The case subsequently settled in the six-figure range.
Mr. Pizzuto has also obtained dismissal of a claim by an individual allegedly injured while working as a sheet-metal fabricator in a factory building. Plaintiff alleged that his injuries were caused by our clients’ negligence in failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Plaintiff suffered a foot injury requiring surgery and ensuing complex regional pain syndrome which allegedly left him unable to work and permanently disabled. At the close of discovery, Mr. Pizzuto moved for summary judgment, maintaining, inter alia, that the code provisions relied upon by the plaintiff did not constitute statutes imposing liability. Before the Supreme Court rendered its decision, plaintiff’s attorneys requested $5,000,000 to settle the claim. No offer was made to plaintiff. The Supreme Court granted summary judgement and dismissed the complaint. The plaintiff appealed and Mr. Pizzuto successfully argued the appeal before the Appellate Division, which recently affirmed the Supreme Court’s decision. See decision at: Volpe v. Hudson View Associates, LLC, 2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 05814, N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept. 2013.
Recently, Mr. Pizzuto tried a toxic tort case before a jury in the New Jersey Superior Court, Monmouth County. In that case, plaintiff alleged that he suffered cognitive deficits and adult onset asthma as a result of living in a residential property owned by Mr. Pizzuto’s client that was allegedly infested by toxic mold. At trial, plaintiff testified that he was displaced from the home as it was condemned by the municipality and his life was altered after the prolonged exposure. Plaintiff’s expert, renowned in mold toxicity and its adverse effects on human health, testified that the exposure caused plaintiff’s adult onset asthma and other permanent injuries. The plaintiff requested damages for his being displaced and for damages as a result of the exposure, including punitive damages against the defendant. While the defendant was guilty of not filing a certificate of occupancy in order to rent the home and paid a municipal fine, Mr. Pizzuto fervidly defended his client and asked the jury to hold plaintiff to his proof on both liability and damages. After its deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant on all counts.
Mr. Pizzuto has been cited in numerous national publications including the New York Times, New Jersey Law Journal, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, and has presented in Continuing Legal Education courses and seminars as an expert in the field of toxic torts and trial advocacy.
Mr. Pizzuto is licensed to practice law before the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bars, and is fluent in Italian. He is a graduate of Temple University School of Law.
- The Legal and Insurance Ramifications of Lead Injuries
AMBest Webinar - August 3, 2016
- Difficulties Surrounding Lead Contaminated Drinking Water Claims, New Jersey Law Journal, July 18, 2016
- J.D., Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, 1996
- B.A., The City University of New York, 1993
- New Jersey, 2004
- New York, 1997
- Pennsylvania, 2004