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Jeff Friedman’s Story



The law firm of Friedman, Domiano, & Smith (FDS) was established in 1988 with the mission to serve injured clients with the highest level of expertise, professionalism and integrity. Today, FDS continues to operate as one of Cleveland’s most reputable and successful law firms. FDS has become a recognized institution in Northeast Ohio, whether it be from the FDS Logo on a nearby RTA bus or its long history of television commercials and print advertisements. Jeff Friedman was the managing partner of the firm for many years. When you met Jeff in person, you experienced first-hand his kind, hardworking, and genuine character. However, not everyone knows about his lifelong physical battles or how one car accident forever changed his life and enriched his spirit to become a successful human being and lawyer.

jeff-friedman-story2On July 9, 1964, the day after Jeff’s seventeenth birthday, what was meant to start out as a typical teenage weekend resulted in an event that impacted an entire lifetime. The initial plan involved the rental of a cottage for a weekend beach party at Geneva-on-the-Lake. During the evening drive to the cottage, Jeff and his friends became lost. The caravan of cars chose to stop, reconvene, and then proceed on their way to the cottage. Jeff switched cars and ended up in a car with a newly-licensed 16 year-old driver. Jeff did not know this driver well, but remembered the driver being warned to slow down multiple times after reaching speeds of 80 mph. The driver lost control of the vehicle and veered off the road. He crashed the car into one tree and then another. Unfortunately, seat belts did not exist in vehicles at the time, a safety measure that could have prevented Jeff from being seriously injured. Also, laws did not exist at the time to protect and compensate injured passengers of motor vehicle accidents.

From the accident scene, Jeff was initially transported to Geneva Memorial Hospital. He then spent another six weeks at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Medical professionals at this time were just starting to treat spinal cord injuries for patients suffering from these injuries during the Vietnam War. From August of 1964 to September of 1965, Jeff resided in a rehab center at Highland View Hospital. During this period, Jeff was permitted to complete his high school requirements with tutorial support. He was also encouraged to apply to John Carroll University and was proudly accepted. Throughout his life, Jeff retold heartfelt stories of how grateful he was to the university for constructing wheelchair ramps to make learning more accessible and for the unconditional support of university faculty mentors. Jeff graduated Cum Laude from John Carroll University with a B.A. degree in political science. He was the first recipient of the Scholastic and Political Achievement Award. Jeff continued his academic pursuits locally at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and graduated in 1972 with a Juris Doctor degree.

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jeff-friedman-story3Jeff’s keen understanding of the law and appreciation of political science motivated his successful run for the City Council of University Heights. He served on council for 29 years and was elected by his council peers to be vice mayor for several terms. During this same time frame, Jeff worked as a part-time Assistant Attorney General of Ohio for close to 27 years. He was also appointed to numerous boards such as Easter Seals and the Spinal Cord Injury Foundation to further serve the Greater Cleveland Community.

After passing the Ohio Bar in 1973, Jeff continued to practice law. Jeff started his legal career as a sole practitioner in the same office as his future partner, David Smith. In 1980, Jeff’s classmate from college, Frank Chenette, left a high-powered Washington firm to join with Jeff in a partnership called Friedman & Chenette. Jeff and Frank practiced together until 1987 when Joe Domiano and David Smith were invited to join together in a new partnership. In late 1988, Frank ventured on his own and the firm of Friedman, Domiano & Smith, as we know it today, was formed. Friedman, Domiano & Smith embarked upon the toughest cases including rollover vehicles and was the first to establish case law involving sudden acceleration of a vehicle, which we see today in Toyota litigation. FDS has handled everything from railroad cases, trucking cases, product liability, spinal cord injury, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence to severe workplace injuries. FDS has successfully challenged insurance companies so that injured victims could receive damages after being denied their rights. FDS has documented trial experience and is fully prepared to defend your “day in court,” if necessary.

jeff-friedman-story4The experience and capabilities of FDS have led to successful decisions in many major cases in Ohio. These well-known cases include Hillyer v. Painesville Township, which resulted in a $1.6 Million verdict, and Felden v. Ashland Chemical, which resulted in a $3.5 Million verdict, which was the largest intentional tort verdict in the State of Ohio. Another significant settlement was $6.3 Million for a good Samaritan who lost both legs below the knees while pushing a disabled vehicle to the side of the road. A $900,000 confidential settlement was recently negotiated with a company for a worker who was severely injured when a machine malfunctioned.

Later in his life, Jeff traveled back and forth between Florida and Ohio, as he was licensed to practice law in both states. Technology permitted immediate, 24/7 access to clients, both near and far. This made it possible to serve their needs in a seamless and timely manner.

While continuing its quest to seek justice for the injured, FDS forged new alliances in criminal law, civil rights litigation, employment law, social security and workers’ compensation.

FDS expanded its services to its clients by offering free reviews of anyone’s insurance policies, as well as wills and estates. FDS has evolved with the times to become a comprehensive, one-stop legal service center. You can depend on Friedman, Domiano & Smith to meet all your legal needs.

Jeff Friedman was a man of passion and determination who lived life to the fullest to attain his dreams and the dreams of other accident victims. When Jeff said to his clients, “I know, I’ve been there,” it was the truth. He was the real deal. Jeff’s accomplishments both within and outside the field of law are remarkable. It is those achievements, along with a strong work ethic, which have helped to make Friedman, Domiano, & Smith a brand to be reckoned within the legal community today.