Joseph I. Fontak
PARTNER
Phone:
215-755-0455
Fax:
215-405-2999
Email:
jfontak@leaderberkon.com
Attorney Info:
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Joe heads the firm’s Philadelphia office. He has extensive experience in a variety of litigation areas, including toxic tort, product liability, securities, commercial, real estate and insurance. Joe has applied his math and actuarial background to complex cases, including federal securities law cases involving pension fund allocations, improper accounting procedures and stock parking practices. He is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Joe has tried cases to verdict, and has participated in trials in California, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Product Liability / Toxic Tort
In addition to being lead trial lawyer on a number of active cases, Joe also supervises attorneys and paralegals in the firm’s role as national coordinating counsel for an asbestos defendant and for a manufacturer of cutting, welding and gas solutions. Joe works with local attorneys in jurisdictions around the country in coordinating the defense of these clients. Joe began his career at Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein as a key member of the defense team for our client, a chemical manufacturer, in the IBM Semiconductor Litigation involving over 200 cancer and 50 birth defect claims in NewYork, California and Minnesota courts. Joe includes among his active cases diverse clients such as a major airline, a national bank, a boiler company, a pump manufacturer, an international flooring company, a foot powder company and several individual stockbrokers. The variety of clients and cases Joe has represented over the course of his career provides him with a broad perspective which he brings to every case. He believes in early case assessment, seeking to achieve his clients’ goals quickly, effectively and with minimal cost and disruption to his client. Joe will do what it takes to obtain the result his client wants.
Representative Successes

Joe has obtained summary judgment for several equipment manufacturer clients in asbestos cases pending in New Jersey and Pennsylvania state and federal courts. Joe represented several plaintiffs in a suit against a large banking institution, claiming they had been induced to participate in a private stock transaction through false and misleading statements. The bank settled the case at the courthouse steps after losing its motion for summary judgment following Joe’s recital of his planned opening statement in a pre-trial conference with the trial judge and the bank’s in-house counsel. Joe was lead trial counsel of a Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein trial team that obtained a favorable defense verdict following a one-week trial in a construction site personal injury case. Joe obtained complete reimbursement, with interest, of more than $1.5 million owed to his client by a former vendor. By obtaining a preliminary injunction against the vendor and successfully freezing the vendor’s bank accounts, Joe had the leverage to reject the vendor’s attempts to resolve at a reduced repayment. Joe recently finalized a large personal injury settlement for a client related to an assault in a sandwich shop. Prior counsel and the sandwich shop insurer were at an impasse, and Joe moved the case to resolution and payment, overcoming numerous hurdles to obtain payment from the insurer.

Community Leader
Joe is an active volunteer in community and alumni activities. He has served as solicitor for Congregation Beth David in Gladwyne, PA, a position placing him on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees of the synagogue. He has also headed up the Men’s clubs for Congregation Beth David and Congregation Beth Chaim in West Windsor, NJ. He is co-chairman of the mid-Atlantic section of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law alumni association. He was also onthe faculty of the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program at Cardozo for ten years. Joe moderated a legal continuing education panel at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School entitled, “Two Hot Ethics Topics for Litigators: Social Media and Soliciting Witnesses.” He also recently authored an article for the Cardozo Law alumni magazine, entitled, “A Life Lesson from Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad.”

Education

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Law Review, Criminal Law Clinic, J.D.

1991

Binghamton University, B.S.

1985

Professional Activities & Admissions

New York

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court District of New Jersey

American Bar Association

Pennsylvania Bar Association

Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell

U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania

U.S. Supreme Court

Cardozo Law School Intensive Trial Advocacy, Faculty

Defense Research Institute

New York State Bar Association

New York Super Lawyers (2010-2019)

Practice Areas

Asbestos Litigation
Aviation Litigation
Business and
Commercial Litigation
Employment Litigation
Product Liability & Toxic Tort
Securities Litigation
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