Types of Cases We Handle

In our over 30 years of practice, we have represented people injured in almost every kind of accident.


Research Tools:

The website has research tools for trial lawyers.

John Durst has published books for lawyers on Discovery, Cross-Examination, Products Liability and Evidence, as well as numerous articles on other areas of personal injury law.

They are available to buy from Lexis Publishing, but they are available here free for our clients and referring attorneys.






The Durst Law Firm is a professional corporation of trial lawyers.

We represent individuals who have been physically injured through someone's negligence.

Lawyers from our office have verdicts of $16 million, for asbestos-diesel exposure, $12 million, for lead exposure, and $4.9 million, for defective machine guarding.

John Durst's most recent trial counsel results include $7 million, for John Dearie's law firm, in a wrongful death case involving a worker who fell from a bridge and drowned. The widow and her 2 children will receive a total of $27 million over the course of their expected lives.

John Durst also recently settled a case as trial counsel for John Dearie's office in the amount of $1.75 million, for a construction worker who fell and injured his back,

Although we focus primarily on individuals with serious injuries, we have settled many many cases for smaller amounts, and in those cases, we are proud to say that from the time we are retained, to issuance of the settlement check, is taking between 4 to 9 months. Larger injuries where there is adequate insurance coverage tend to result in longer periods of litigation, obviously, to squeeze out every last penny from the case.

If you are seriously injured, we will use all our skills and experience to find every possible way to help you. If you have a injury of less than lifelong impact, or there is a limited insurance policy, we will move the case very rapidly to conclusion.

The Street Lawyers

We set up our mobile office at 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem.  We set up on the street, and answer questions from people who know us as the "Street Lawyers".  We answer questions from about 100 people every day, concerning their housing, welfare benefits, criminal cases, inheritance rights, landlord neglect, and every other kind of imaginable problem. 

We enjoy being able to solve problems.  We like to see if they can "stump the lawyer" by presenting a problem that we cannot solve through our network of lawyers.  At a minimum, we try to send them off with something positive in their mind to focus on.

We also participate as speakers in frequent symposiums in Harlem on various legal and political issues.  We are very involved in the political and social environment of Harlem, which is to us the capital of the black American. Often, we are the only white people on a panel and in a room. 

My ancestors were among the first Quakers in America, in the 1600s, and that genetic strain is part of my disposition. 



Flood Damage cases

The City of New York had a 106 year old water main on Jerome Ave. and 177th Street that was tagged as having expired its useful life expectancy and should have been removed, or at a minimum should have been inspected and tested. It was neglected, though, and on August 27, 2011, it burst.  It resulted in a flood on Jerome Ave. which flooded out 50 businesses in the neighborhood.

The MTD African Halal Supermarket is one of the 25 businesses we represent from the flood damage. It is one of the main African food distributors in the United States.  They have a main floor where they sell retail items, and a basement where they stock large quantities of food for retail and wholesale distribution.

When the water main broke at Jerome and 177th, the water poured out of the pipes and flooded the streets. It completely filled the basement of the Halal Supermarket, to the ceiling, and about 18 inches of the first floor were filled with water.  When the water was finally drained out, they went to the basement and began to do an inventory of the damaged goods.  

There were at least 8 men bagging the inventory at a time, often 12.  They would count the items, and Fatitima and her sister would write down the count, then bag it.   That inventory started on Saturday, and continued Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, finally finishing the count on Wednesday evening.

To remove the bags from the basement, they formed a human chain of two people each, who would pass a bag to the next two people, who would pass the bag to the next two people, up out of the basement, over the sidewalk to the dumpster.  There were at least 25 people in that line of people.  Many volunteers from the neighborhood joined in. 

It was Ramadan starting on Monday, and that was in the heaviest part of the inventory and removal process.  It was 91 degrees and humid, and because almost all of the workers were Muslim, no one was drinking, or eating any food.  Every worker there was drenched in sweat, and not drinking water, lifting bags that weighed 50-100 lbs each, on a nonstop basis for 8 hours. 

They filled five 30 cubic yard dumpsters to the top.  When the dumpsters were weighed, the total weight came to 71 tons.  That doesn’t count any of the infrastructure, that’s just inventory itself. 

A company that specializes in cleaning up flood damage gave them an estimate of $99,000 for the cleaning and rehabilitation of the place.

At the meeting at the Community Center, they learned that the City would pay for lost inventory and clean up costs if they filled out a claim form and provided all their receipts.  Their receipts were all in the basement that was flooded.  They have them, but most of them have such severe water damage that they cannot be read.  But the store is trying to restore them.  But they do have an accurate count of the items that were damaged, which is better than most of the stores in the neighborhood. 

There was never one bad word or harsh expression exchanged between any of the workers, despite the tough conditions. Durst joined them in their fast, and was amazed at the difficulty of going all day without drinking, but by the third day of Ramadan, he had almost become accustomed to it, as they had.  They never stopped working until everything was out of the basement.  Their only break was at 1:00 pm, when they’d break to go to the mosque and pray.

They were visited by their insurance company’s representative on Wednesday.  They had hoped that their insurance would cover this.  They were told though that the business owners protection policy that they had, which was limited to 100,000 in property damage and business lost income, did not apply and would not provide any payment, because flood damage from a water main break was not a “Named Peril” under the policy.  So though they thought they were insured, they got the devastating news that they had no insurance coverage at all, despite their payment of premiums for the last 5 years.  So they thought they were covered when this happened, but they aren’t.  They like many other businesses in the neighborhood found out that a flood from a water main break was not covered by their insurance policy. 

Very few of the stores in the neighborhood ended up being covered by insurance, despite the fact that most of them had some type of insurance.

At the meeting with the representatives of the City of New York, the business owners were told that they should have foreseen something like this, and purchased insurance for it.  How many people foresee that the water main under the street is going to break and you are going to have a flood hit your premises, destroy all your inventory, in a business in the Bronx?

Anyway, the City of New York did ask the business owners to prepare claim forms, but the claim forms they were provided did not permit any recovery for lost business income, and many of the stores, unlike the Supermarket, did not have vast inventories that were damaged, but have been put out of business and will continue to be out of business until they completely rebuild their stores and are permitted to open again. 

At the meeting the governors office suggested that there would be loans available if you qualify at 5.5% interest.  A restaurant we represent was told that they did not qualify for the loan. 

So a large number of the stores have banded together to commence lawsuits.  John Durst and Andy Bersin represent 25 of them, and they're anxious to get these storekeepers what they deserve to get, which is everything they lost in the flood.