Joshua Weisberg – Director, Risk Management Services and Senior Counsel
Josh joined the ES&P team in 2014 following ten years of outside legal practice representing insurers and policyholders in general liability and insurance coverage disputes. As Director of Risk Management Services, Josh oversees all aspects of the TPA’s claims handling functionality and broader array of deliverables connected to contractual analysis, loss control, and other affiliated operations. As Senior Counsel, he is one of ES&P’s chief claims professionals with a dedicated practice handling the most complex and serious exposures for the TPA’s clients.
Earlier in his career, Josh served as claims and underwriting counsel to various liability insurers and seconded to a Lloyd’s of London syndicate as in-house counsel. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing liability defense matters, drafting insurance forms, and general oversight of risk portfolios covering engineers, real estate brokers, financial planners, and other professionals.
Josh graduated from Fordham Law School in May 2005 and obtained his B.A. from Yeshiva University in September 2002. While at Fordham, Josh served as an assistant to the General Counsel for the New York State Insurance Department (now the Department of Financial Services) where he drafted advisory opinions regarding New York State’s insurance laws and regulations.
Tracey A. Nixon – Senior Claims Specialist
Tracey is a Licensed Independent Adjuster and Broker. She has been in the insurance industry for 33 years. She holds a BA degree from SUNY Old Westbury, a designation of Legal Principles Claim Specialist by the American Educational Institute and a General Law Studies Certification through Adelphi University’s Lawyers Assistance Program. Ms. Nixon has held both insurance rating and claims positions for three national insurance carriers. Tracey handles general liability claims for a “big box” wholesale chain. She has also adjusted claims for shopping centers, retail chains, a supermarket chain, family entertainment centers and a municipality. Tracey is the designated Claims Consultant for a chain of community centers, a dance company, supermarket, and family entertainment centers.
Summary Judgment Wins:
Plaintiff slipped and fell on mushrooms claiming injuries to his head, neck, back, left shoulder, wrists, and knees. We put forth evidence that only a matter of seconds passed between the mushrooms falling and plaintiff’s slip and fall. The Judge agreed with our arguments and ruled that this was insufficient time to impose a duty upon the store to remedy or warn of the condition. The judge stated that the store did not fail to exercise reasonable care and granted summary judgment in defendant’s favor
Alleged slip and fall on a piece of small debris on the floor. Plaintiff claimed injuries of multiple cervical disc bulges and herniations, multiple lumbar disc bulges and herniations, and two tendon tears in her shoulder. The Court found that the store did not create or have notice of the alleged condition and that plaintiff failed to present evidence disputing same.
Plaintiff was hit in the shin by a low lying, slow moving cart after it was hit by a forklift. She claimed injuries to left shoulder, low back and neck. Shoulder surgery was recommended for a partial tear and impingements. Investigation revealed that Plaintiff had significant pre-existing conditions, including but not limited to the shoulder condition. She denied during her testimony any history of left shoulder and neck injuries. A Motion to Dismiss for Fraud was filed. Demand was $150,000. We settled case for $2,750.00 considering we did hit her with the cart, causing her to seek ER treatment for her leg contusion which resulted in medical expenses.
Helen Behek – Senior Claims Specialist
Helen has over 25 years of claims handling experience in the insurance industry. Helen is a licensed independent adjuster in several states and hold a NYS Brokers License. She is a certificated arbitrator with National Arbitration Association. Helen started her career at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company managing their national corporate fleet account for automobile and general liability claims. Through her career with several national insurance carriers she has become proficient in managing litigation claims with a Self Insured Retention including a Municipal County, commercial shopping center managers, large national chain of big box stores, large residential property owners, and parking garages. She interacts extensively with defense and plaintiff attorneys to mitigate exposure to her clients. Proficient in negotiations, attends mediations, arbitrations and trials to advocate for her clients. Evaluates complex damages and liability exposures in order to set accurate and timely reserves. Coordinates legal defense by assigning attorney, coordinating support for investigation, and reviewing attorney invoices; monitors counsel for compliance with client guidelines.
Linda Vanella, Esq. – Claim Attorney
Linda Vanella graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. She received her J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law. Linda began her career as a Deputy Town Attorney in the Town Attorney’s Office in Hempstead. Since then, she has worked in private practice, including Sobel and Kelly, P.C. (currently the Sobel Law Group) and Greenfield and Ruhl, P.C. During that time, she practiced negligence defense, including premises liability, auto cases, labor law, and property damage. She also served as in-house counsel for Travelers Insurance.
Maria O’Connor – Claims Assistant
Maria O’Connor, Claims Assistant has been in the insurance industry for 10 years. She provides assistance to the claim specialists in ES&P. Of note, Maria is responsible for all of the billing for claim administrative services. Maria worked previously for Chase Manhattan Bank and Stock Investment Companies.
Steven A. Markowitz, CSP, ARM, ALCM – Vice President of Loss Control
Steven Markowitz, Vice President of Loss Control for SterlingRisk, has over of 30 years experience in the field of loss control and accident prevention. After receiving a Masters Degree in Occupational Safety and Health from New York University in 1980, Steve worked in private industry for five years as the Manager of Occupational Safety and Health. During this time, Steve developed and implemented employee, fleet and property safety programs for an industrial organization with 14 production plants throughout the Northeast US and a fleet of over 500 commercial vehicles.
Over the next 25 years, Steve worked for several national insurance carriers, conducting risk assessment evaluations and providing risk improvement programs and advice. Steve has developed expertise in various lines of coverage, including property protection, general and product liability, auto liability and workers’ compensation. These programs included presentations, guides and checklists in several subject areas, including preventing slip/trip/fall accidents, emergency evacuation and response procedures, ergonomic improvements to prevent strain/sprain injuries, inspection and testing of fire protection systems, and safe driving techniques.
While in the insurance industry, Steve achieved the Certified Safety Professional, Associate in Risk Management and Associate in Loss Control Management designations. Steve is also a New York State Certified Safety Auditor.
Joanna Strzalka — Senior Claims Consultant
Joanna Strzalka graduated from Queens College with a BA degree in Sociology and Business, she is also a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. Joanna started her career at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company handling auto and premises liability cases for high end commercial clients including United Parcel Service, Keyspan and IKEA Home Goods. Joanna then excelled on to work for Magna Carta Insurance Company for 13 years. She predominantly handled personal and commercial lines claims including conducting field work which consisted of taking witness statements, scene photographs and writing a thorough and comprehensive report of the findings. By handling the claim from inception to closure, Joanna quickly mastered the art of investigation which helped mold the rest of her career and in turn led her to Chubb.
Prior to joining ES&P, Joanna was employed as a Senior Claims Director for Chubb Insurance Company. While at Chubb, Joanna was responsible for conducting complex coverage investigation for all lines of business. This entailed reviewing the exclusionary language in the policies, writing coverage disclaimers and denials along with handling class action lawsuits. In addition, Joanna also handled high exposure litigated claims, including Labor Law and Premises Liability defense.
At ES&P, Joanna handles many complex claims for commercial clients for all lines of business. A few examples are:
- A lawsuit was filed in New York in which the plaintiff alleged that she tripped and fell on a cracked and defective sidewalk in front of our client’s retail space. The plaintiff suffered multiple back injuries that required surgery. We were successfully able to argue that the defect was De Minimis thus rendering a dismissal for our client.
- In another case, a contractor was struck in the back by a hi low at our client’s warehouse. The plaintiff suffered serious back injuries treated with multiple surgeries. We were able to successfully tender the claim to the plaintiff’s employer. Ultimately the case settled for half a million dollars with no contribution from our client.
- A case was successfully settled prior to suit involving a 28 year old claimant that alleged multiple injuries including TBI (Traumatic Brain injury) and a disc herniations when boxes fell from a shelf and struck the claimant. The claimant demanded the policy limits and we were successfully able to settle the case for 20K prior to litigation.
Joanna consistently strives to achieve the best results for her clients by resolving cases with the least amount of exposure.