I have spent my professional life serving the interests of individuals against corporations, fighting for workers against those who have hurt them and making whatever contribution I could toward making life a little more equitable, just and sustainable for those around me. The items below reflect some of what I’ve done as a lawyer, but the why is just as important as the what. If a doctor goes to medical school or a nurse to nursing school, the purpose is clear – they will spend their professional lives saving others.

Lawyers are less esteemed because they are different. They may choose to work for tobacco companies or The American Heart Association. They might work for polluters or the EPA. We take sides, but what’s forgotten (even by some lawyers) is that each side is part of a moral equation.

Like many of my colleagues, my skills have been honed in courtrooms, in offices taking depositions and in drafting endless motion papers. But as my civil procedure professor once said, “Everyone has a right to an attorney, but they don’t have a right to you.” I have handled all aspects of premises liability, negligence and contracts cases, but I believe I have benefitted from always knowing why I was taking a on a case, a client or a community responsibility.

That has meant serving on boards of community nonprofits, in political positions and on campaigns from the local to the federal level. It has meant coaching kids, helping a progressive talk radio station get off the ground and working on behalf of clients against well funded corporations. Ultimately, it has meant going beyond the comfort zone of most litigators and I have been fortunate to gain a broader perspective from doing so.

In 2020, it’s clear we face threats to marginalized ethnic communities, to workers and to our environment. We need as many advocates as possible, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, to be on the just side of that equation.

Carl Kustell

 

About

My Experience

  • Procuring and co-litigating on behalf of a young worker who lost the lower half of his leg when he was required to operate a forklift unfit for use on a ramp, achieving a seven-figure settlement
  • Saving a retired couple's retirement by convincing a judge in open court to reverse himself on summary judgment against the couple and order the homeowner's insurer to cover damages for an intentional tort committed by a non-party on their property.
  • Co-litigating an international case against a Canadian trucking company and driver operating illegally in the US, resulting in a successful seven-figure settlement.
  • Co-litigating a rare seven-figure plaintiff's verdict before a particular judge in Niagara County, New York for a worker whose hand was partially amputated due to employer's improper guarding and practices regarding an industrial dye press
  • Representing a rape victim who was volunteering at a hospital when she was attacked.
  • Representing three young men who were the victims of a planned assault and battery by a large mob of underage drinkers (at least one of whom had used cocaine) at a local bar, achieving a successful settlement
  • Successfully representing, drafting appellate briefs and/or advising clients in medical malpractice, auto accident, workplace negligence, small business contract disputes, estates and landlord/tenant cases, as well as researching and advising other attorneys on election law and child custody matters
  • Advising and assisting with the launch of and serving on the board of the first progressive talk radio station in Western New York, including directing management on issues including programming, marketing, sales and local events, as well as reviewing and advising management regarding affiliation agreements
  • Proudly volunteering as an attorney with the Clinton Voter Protection Team in Pennsylvania in 2016 as well as for the Clinton Victory Counsel during the 2016 election cycle, as well as working on a multitude of campaigns from the congressional, state and local levels.
  • Serving as legislative counsel to a Democratic Member of The US House of Representatives at the beginning of my career, which included work on federal environmental, energy, judiciary, agricultural and national defense issues. Responsibilities included research, representing the Member at various meetings, speechwriting, advising on votes, managing stakeholders regarding Superfund and FUSRAP site remediations and supporting the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.
  • Serving on the Barrington, Rhode Island Economic Development Commission, the LGBTQ+ Pride Flag Raising Ceremony Committee and the board of a new nonprofit created to foster youth athletics.
  • Providing pro bono legal research and counsel to a notable individual rights nonprofit and an international women's, LGBT and environmental rights nonprofit.
  • I am a Cornell Law School graduate (JD, Concentration in Public Law ) and a SUNY Buffalo summa cum laude graduate (BA, Major in Political Science). Regarding my personal interests, I am a black belt in Krav Maga, a volunteer soccer coach and an enthusiastic but lousy skier.