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Todd Drayton is a civil trial attorney and senior associate with Martin, Kane & Kuper, LLC. His litigation expertise crosses multiple practice areas as Mr. Drayton represents personal injury victims in cases that involve medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, product liability, slip and fall injuries and various discrimination matters under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.) and New Jersey’s Contentious Employee Protection Act (N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 et seq.). Mr. Drayton also manages the firm’s mass torts litigation department, which in recent years included almost 70 clients with defective hip claims against Stryker Corporation and numerous other clients with claims against the manufacturers of Levaquin, a strong antibiotic linked to various tendon ruptures in the body.
On October 28, 2015, Mr. Drayton obtained a $2.25 million dollar verdict for a client who slipped and fell on black ice in the parking lot of her employer. A single mother of one son and two grandchildren, the plaintiff tore the medial meniscus in her left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery to repair, and suffered bulging discs in her lumbar spine at L4/L5 and L5/S1. She also suffered bilateral lumbar radiculopathies which continue to cause her pain and numbness that radiates from her low back down her legs into her feet.
At trial, Mr. Drayton presented evidence from several witnesses, including an expert in orthopedic surgery who testified that the plaintiff’s back and knee injuries were permanent. The expert opined that the prognosis was “poor” that the plaintiff would ever be able to return to her pre-accident level of functioning. Therefore, Mr. Drayton argued that his client’s damaged discs would deteriorate at much faster rate and to a more severe endpoint, and that she could look forward to a future marked by painful arthritis and by diminished functioning in both her left knee and low back. Mr. Drayton further argued that, given her age, the plaintiff would likely need a total knee replacement in the future.
Recently, Mr. Drayton also successfully arbitrated the matter of Martin v. Petco, a case arising from a plaintiff’s slip and fall in pet urine at a local animal supply store. As a result of the fall, Mr. Drayton’s client sustained severe and permanent injuries to her right knee, hip and low back, which required multiple surgeries to correct. Following arbitration, Mr. Drayton’s client was awarded $275,000, which was reduced ten percent to $245,700 under the provisions of New Jersey’s comparative fault law.
In April 2015, Mr. Drayton obtained judgment in excess of $241,000 against a home improvement contractor for abandoning a substantial residential renovation and for numerous negligent repairs. Of note, Mr. Drayton was successful in obtaining treble damages for his clients under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., which makes unlawful any unconscionable commercial practice, including fraud or misrepresentation. Mr. Drayton was additionally awarded more than $32,000 in counsel’s fees and costs under the statute. The following month, Mr. Drayton obtained a settlement in the amount of $175,000 for a female plaintiff alleging medical negligence in connection with a failed bunionectomy and hammertoe surgery.
Several years ago, Mr. Drayton commenced the high-profile case, The Estate of Tista v. Glaspar, et. als., which was filed (in part) to cast light upon the vicious hate crime notoriously known in New Jersey as “poppy hunting.” On November 4, 2007, Lazaro Tista, a Hispanic father of eight, was robbed and savagely beaten to death by five men who targeted him solely because of his race and undocumented status in this country. The case marked the first time the Union County Prosecutor ever prosecuted anyone under New Jersey’s bias crime statute. (See e.g., http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009)
Notably, in addition to suing the five assailants, Mr. Drayton also named as defendants the parent and grandparents of one of the conspirators, who was an unemancipated minor at the time of the murder. Mr. Drayton took the position that these guardians were so reckless and willfully indifferent in their supervision and control of the minor that they were no longer entitled to immunity under the laws of New Jersey. Indeed, on August 1, 2013, Mr. Drayton successfully argued the matter, which had come before the Honorable Karen M. Cassidy, A.J.S.C. (Union County) on a motion to dismiss. Judge Cassidy’s ruling is celebrated as a significant victory for plaintiffs, who continue to hold out hope that parents and legal guardians alike may one day be held responsible for the egregious criminal misconduct of minors under their supervision.
In July 2013, Mr. Drayton obtained a $750,000 settlement on behalf of George Kavoleff, a Union Carpenter with Local 254, who was permanently disabled after slipping and falling on ice and snow while working on a renovation project at Bristol Meyers Squibb in New Brunswick. (See Kavoleff case) Mr. Kavoleff sustained permanent injuries to his knee, neck, shoulder and back, which failed to improve with conservative treatment. He eventually required a cervical decompression and fusion, with hardware, as well as a lumbar decompression and fusion, with hardware.
In February 2012, Mr. Drayton obtained a $125,000 settlement on behalf of Danielle Fitzhenry in a lawsuit brought directly against Liberty Mutual Insurance Company under the terms of Mrs. Fitzhenry’s uninsured motorist policy. (See Fitzhenry v. Liberty Mutual) The insurance carrier defended the matter on the grounds that Mrs. Fitzhenry’s injuries were not permanent and that, even if permanent, same were the result of a subsequent motor vehicle accident, not the subject accident. Thus, Liberty Mutual offered Mrs. Fitzhenry only $1,000 to resolve the matter at the beginning of trial. However, after only the first week of trial (and prior to the close of Mrs. Fitzhenry’s case), Liberty Mutual offered $125,000 to settle the case.
In September 2011, Mr. Drayton obtained a $350,000 settlement on behalf of the Estate of Trese Ann Singelyn, a widow and mother of five who died within days of being prescribed a strong anticoagulant known as Lovenox. (See Singelyn v. lorio) Mr. Drayton prosecuted the matter against the late Ms. Singelyn’s pulmonologist, who was responsible for monitoring the medication but who failed to obtain the urgent diagnostics needed to justify long-term use of a full therapeutic dose of this drug. Although the case was successfully tried to unanimous verdict, the parties reached the aforementioned compromise only seconds before the verdict was returned three days in to the jury’s deliberation.
In October 2010, Mr. Drayton was interviewed on camera by James Dolan of ABC’s Eyewitness News in connection with the reported suicide of Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi. Mr. Clementi’s suicide garnered national headlines in September 2010 when the freshman reportedly jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death after a sexual encounter with him and another man was secretly broadcast over the internet. At the time of Mr. Drayton’s interview, ABC News was investigating whether or not “hate crime” charges could be brought against the individuals accused of secretly making the broadcast.
In addition to his trial work, Mr. Drayton has also appeared before the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. In April 2010, he successfully argued the matter of Ruben Betancourt v. Trinitas Hospital, another high profile case involving controversial end-of-life issues. At the center of this controversy was the issue of whether or not Trinitas Hospital could unilaterally terminate life-sustaining medical care to Reuben Betancourt – over objection of his family – based upon the hospital’s own internal opinion that continued treatment was “medically futile.” In August 2010, the Appellate Division rendered a published opinion agreeing with Mr. Drayton and several amicus curae who appeared on behalf of the Betancourt family. The Court thereafter dismissed the Hospital’s appeal, declaring moot all issues raised by the hospital. In short, the Appellate Division let stand the lower court ruling that prohibited Trinitas Hospital from unilaterally terminating Mr. Betancourt’s life-sustaining medical care.
According to elder law and estate attorney, Donald Vanarelli, Esq., Betancourt was one of the most requested judicial opinions in 2009. (See http://medicalfutility.blogspot.com/2009)
For excerpts of the oral argument, see the below articles.
For further reaction to the decision, see the below articles.
Currently, Mr. Drayton represents the plaintiffs in The Estate of Asia Brister v. Ramagapol, et. al., another Appellate Division case involving the hot-button issue of public entity immunity under New Jersey’s Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq. In Brister, Mr. Drayton’s clients failed to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the death of their minor child, as required by the statute. However, the results of the autopsy were not made available to Mr. Drayton’s clients for nearly one year. Thus, Mr. Drayton argued that “knowledge of fault” in this complex medical malpractice action was not known – nor could be known – until after a final determination had been rendered by the State’s own Medical Examiner. The trial court concurred, which has led the Attorney General’s office to appeal the matter.
One of the practice areas Mr. Drayton has been particularly successful in involves automobile accidents, and in particular, those requiring a plaintiff to overcome New Jersey’s extremely strong verbal threshold defense. To date, Mr. Drayton has never lost a verbal threshold case, although far more impressive is the fact that all of his trials have ended in unanimous verdicts for Mr. Drayton’s clients. Indeed, in recent years, Mr. Drayton has successfully obtained verdicts of $250,000 and $168,000 in motor vehicle accident cases where the only documented injuries suffered by his clients were either bulging discs, muscle spasms or perhaps range of motion deficits. In both cases, the defendants unsuccessfully contended that there was no objective, medical proof of any injury which one could consider to be “permanent.”
Prior to joining Martin, Kane & Kuper, Mr. Drayton represented injured parties in litigation that included product liability claims, pharmaceutical injury and asbestos litigation. To that end, he spent nearly a decade with the law firm of Seeger Weiss LLP in New York.
Mr. Drayton received his Juris Doctor degree from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While in law school, he received several distinctions, including the highest honors for legal writing and research. Prior to law school, Mr. Drayton graduated from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. As an undergraduate, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Political Science and English, and was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, National English Honor Society. There, too, Mr. Drayton distinguished himself receiving numerous academic honors, most notably “Collegiate Scholastic All-American Scholar” and “Distinguished African-American Student.”
Mr. Drayton is admitted to practice law before all courts in the State of New Jersey and in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Areas of Practice:
- Personal Injury
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability
- Mass Torts
- Class Actions
- Municipal Matters
- Discrimination/Employment Discrimination (CEPA and NJ LAD)
- 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- New Jersey, 1997
- Pennsylvania, 1998
- Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Juris Doctor, 1997
Honors: Best Paper of Semester, 1995
Honors: Distinguished Class Performance, 1994
Honors: Dean’s Honor List, 1996, 1997
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, VA
Bachelor of Arts, 1994
Honors: Dean’s Honor List, 1992
Honors: Collegiate Scholastic All-American Scholar, 1994
Honors: Distinguished African-American Student, 1994
Honors: National English Honor Society, 1994
Professional Associations and Memberships:
- Pennsylvania Bar Association, 1998 to Present
- New Jersey State Bar Association, 1997 to Present
- Middlesex County Bar Association
Past Employment Positions
- Seeger Weiss LLP, Associate, 2000 to 2008
Pro Bono Activities
- The Love of Jesus Family Church, 1999 to Present
- The Love of Jesus Family Church of the Caldwells, 2013 to Present
Founder and Pastor
- Omega Psi Phi, Inc., 1994 to Present