$10.3 Million – Condominium Collapses
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has taken part in many landmark and historic cases. One notable case took place in December of 1983, when Nance Cacciatore was one of three law firms that secured a $10.3 million settlement for victims of the Harbour Cay Condo that collapsed, resulting in 11 deaths and a number of injuries.
$6.4 Million – Catastrophic Automobile Accident Trial
The attorneys at Nance Cacciatore have taken part in some contentious and noteworthy cases over the years. One particularly notable case revolved around a tragic auto accident left a man a quadriplegic. During an eight-day trial, Jack Hamilton and Sammy Cacciatore presented critical evidence that the accident was caused by the driver of a rented (Enterprise Leasing Company) Cadillac sedan. The defendant denied being in the driver’s seat at the time of the accident.
Our client was driving his Dodge pickup truck south on I-95 toward Palm Bay, Florida. As he approached the Eau Gallie interchange, there was a collision with the Cadillac. The impact caused his pickup truck to topple forward and roll over three times before it came to rest in the median. Due to the extreme force of the rollover, the roof of the car was crushed, and he sustained a compression injury to his spinal cord.
Five minutes earlier, the defendant had driven the Cadillac into the rear of another vehicle, causing that car to spin off the road, down the embankment to the west. He claimed he left his car to check on the occupants of the car he had hit, and that he was not in his rented Cadillac at all, when the collision with our client’s pickup truck occurred. This was not true, and Jack Hamilton and Sammy Cacciatore hired a professional engineering expert to prove it. This expert demonstrated how a deformation in the Cadillac’s driver’s seat and console area did prove that this defendant was indeed seated in his car and pulling out into the roadway at the time of the collision with our client’s vehicle.
There was also extensive testimony regarding the angles of impact of the vehicles, including an attempt by the defense to use a computer program to try and prove that the Cadillac had been parked on the side of the road.
The defendants had offered $3 million to settle the case before it went to trial, but Jack Hamilton and Sammy Cacciatore took the case to court. After eight days of trial, the partners obtained a $6.4 million settlement for this deserving client. It’s always rewarding to be able to help a client achieve a favorable outcome especially in the face of opposition.
$6.3 million – Trucking Accident Settlement
Over the years the Nance Cacciatore law firm has assisted clients with all sorts of landmark trucking cases the years.
In one extremely notable case the Plaintiff was involved in a major commercial trucking accident on I-95 involving multiple vehicles. As a result of the negligence of the commercial vehicle, two individuals were killed and two others sustained injuries. Nance Cacciatore was asked by the surviving parents of one of the decedents, who was in his early twenties, to represent them in this complex case against multiple corporate and commercial defendants. Nance Cacciatore teamed up with two other Central Florida law firms to bring lawsuits on behalf of the families of the two deceased motorists and the severely injured victims. As a result of the intense pressure brought on the various defendants, the insurance companies tendered their collective insurance limits of $6,300,000.00. Sammy Cacciatore secured in excess of $2,000,000.00 of the gross settlement on behalf of the parents of this young man.
$5 Million – Pedestrian Death Trial
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has been a part of a plethora of notable cases over the years. We are always humbled when we are able to assist victims and their families gain the justice and compensation that they deserve.
The defendant was home in Merritt Island on Spring Break from the University of Florida. At approximately 11:10 a.m., she went for a jog near Rotary Park on S. Courtenay Parkway and, while on the bike path, a dump truck operated by one of Defendant’s employees lost control, flipped on its side, and careened off the road onto the bike path, striking the decedent. She was transported by air ambulance to an Orlando hospital and declared brain dead.
Life support was disconnected and an organ donation was made. The defendant driver claimed that his vehicle was overloaded with fill dirt, causing his vehicle to “float.” The driver had been driving the dump truck for nearly thirty miles in that alleged condition. Eyewitnesses claimed that the driver was traveling in excess of forty-five mph in a thirty-five mph zone. The Defendant alleged comparative negligence against Crusher Siteworks, Inc. (a non-party entity that had loaded the dirt into the dump truck two hours previous to the accident).
Nance Cacciatore and S. Sammy Cacciatore obtained a jury verdict of $5,053,000. They had previously filed a proposal for settlement with the Court for $3,000,000 which was rejected by the defense. This jury verdict resulted in the defense having to pay significant attorney’s fees and costs in addition to the verdict.
Our law firm was privileged to be able to take part in such a landmark case.
$3 million – Automobile Accident/Wrongful Death
The attorneys at Nance Cacciatore have been involved in all sorts of noteworthy cases of the history of the firm. We understand that those who cause harm or death due to negligence need to be held accountable. We have the experience and resources to handle wrongful death cases of all types.
The Plaintiff was returning from a vacation on Sanibel Island with his wife and their five-year-old son, when a logging truck — overloaded by 6,000 pounds — caused a terrible accident. The logging truck hit a dairy truck, which was forced into their car. Our client tried to pull over and get out of the way, but the dairy truck was forced into his car, killing him instantly. Fortunately, the wife and child were spared. The logging truck was found to have 23 defects, 11 of which would have kept it off the highway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
James Nance negotiated a settlement agreement that paid in excess of $3 million.
$3 Million – Space Shuttle Program Injuries and Deaths
In September of 1984, Nance Cacciatore secured a $3 million settlement of 5 lawsuits for 2 deaths and 3 injury claims against NASA, Pan Am, and Wackenhut Services, Inc. The accident resulted from negligence by NASA in failing to warn of an extended nitrogen purge of the compartment in which the workers/clients were working as part of the Space Shuttle program.
$2.8 Million – Improper Legal Advice Trial
Unfortunately, individuals and businesses that we trust for our physical health and financial wellbeing commit malpractice because of negligence or misrepresenting themselves. Nance Cacciatore has experience with representing clients who have fallen victim to malpractice in various forms.
Once such case involved Ohio-based Flor-Ohio Ltd., the owners of a popular Brevard County manufactured homes community, the Lakes of Melbourne, decided to introduce rental rate increases on their mobile home lots, they hired a Tallahassee law firm that promoted itself as experts in the field of mobile home law – specifically hiring David Eastman, partner in the firm of Parker, Skelding, Labasky & Corry, P.A., which also represented the Florida Manufactured Housing Association.
Florida’s law requires that to introduce a rental rate increase, the owners of the property must do two things: first, give 90 days, written notice to each affected tenant; second, give 90 days, written notice to the Board of Directors of the Homeowners Association. The notices must be either hand delivered 90 days before the rent increases are scheduled to go into effect, or that five additional days be allowed for the post office to deliver the notices by mail.
Because Mr. Eastman failed to give The Lakes of Melbourne the proper legal advice, the rental rate increases were successfully challenged in several lawsuits filed by the Lakes of Melbourne Homeowners Association.
Flor-Ohio turned to Nance Cacciatore for help. Working as a team, Partners of Nance Cacciatore including Sammy Cacciatore filed a lawsuit against Mr. Eastman, alleging legal malpractice. In addition to proving that Mr. Eastman gave improper and inaccurate legal advice, Mr. Cacciatore had to demonstrate to a jury, and later to the appeals court judges, just how much income the Lakes of Melbourne lost when four years of rental increases were invalidated.
When preparing this case for trial, Mr. Cacciatore used examples of Parker, Skelding’s law firm newsletters, which described their lawyers as mobile home law experts. In fact, once a year the firm sent a checklist of changes in Florida statutes affecting mobile home parks to their clients. They also produced a settlement video to help present the case of legal malpractice. “When Mr. Eastman actually denied his negligence on videotape, and repeatedly contradicted himself, this set the tone for the rest of the trial,”.
During the two-week-long trial in Brevard County, Mr. Cacciatore clearly showed that Mr. Eastman committed legal malpractice. They also presented the projections by an expert economist on the amount of revenue that the Lakes of Melbourne lost as a result of following Mr. Eastman’s legal advice.
$2.55 Million – Semi-tractor & Automobile Collision Settlement
The attorneys at Nance Cacciatore have obtained some landmark verdicts and settlements involving trucking accidents.
One great example is a case where S. Sammy Cacciatore was retained by the family for the death of the patriarch and matriarch of the family. The deceased was 75 years of age and a retired postal worker. His wife was also 75 years of age and together they were survived by three adult children in their forties and several grandchildren. They were driving north on Interstate 95. As they approached the Beeline Expressway along with two other vehicles, a semi-tractor trailer traveling southbound failed to notice a white car that pulled out from the median shoulder. Because of his inattention, the truck driver never reduced speed but rather turned into the median, crossing it and jack-knifing the trailer across both of the northbound lanes, instantly throwing a “barndoor” across the lane that our client’s vehicle was traveling. There was an instant collision and our client had no time to take any evasive action.
Our firm utilized a large amount of witnesses in the case. The truck driver testified that he had noticed the white car parked in the median shoulder over 1300 feet earlier. Another truck driver ahead of him testified that he, too, had noticed this car and had moved into the right lane with no problems. Furthermore, the truck involved had various violations of truck regulations including faulty front axle brakes that would have put it out of service. The defense claimed that this was a sudden pull out and that there was nothing the truck driver could have done to avoid this wreck.
This case was consolidated with the cases of the other victims. S. Sammy Cacciatore was one of the lead counsels in preparing this case for trial. Because of the positions taken by the truck driver and the company for which he was driving, it was a technical case involving trucking experts, accident reconstructionists, trucking regulation experts and depositions from various witnesses and truck drivers from all over the country. A trucking expert testified that as a professional driver, the defendant had a responsibility to keep alert of hazards and potential hazards ahead.
A car sitting in the median was a potential hazard and as the other truck drivers had done, should have been anticipated. The defendant had not considered that vehicle as a hazard and never slowed down. When the vehicle did start to pull out, he testified that the defendant’s actions were also inappropriate because he did not attempt to stop and went into the median which posed a significant danger to oncoming traffic.
A professional engineer was hired to reconstruct the accident. From his reconstruction, it was established that if the defendant had applied his brakes, this tragedy could have been avoided. The defense in the case also hired a professional engineer to reconstruct the accident. Under careful cross-examination, the professional engineering expert for the defense actually admitted that had the defendant simply applied his brakes instead of taking the action that he did, he would have been able to stop without striking the white car.
On the morning of trial just before the selection of the jury, the defendants finally settled the case. On behalf of the adult three children, Nance Cacciatore was able to obtain a total settlement of $2,550,000.00. Our firm was very pleased with this outcome as was the victims family.
$2 million – Pedestrian Injury settlement
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has handled many notable personal injury cases over the years. In one landmark case the plaintiff pedestrian was struck on I-95 by a Mack truck in St. Lucie County. He had stopped as a good Samaritan to pick-up a ladder that was a hazard laying in the highway. Jack Hamilton hired a truck driving expert to help show how the truck driver was negligent in failing to follow proper procedures in maintaining control of his vehicle. The case settled on the eve of trial for $2 Million.
$2 million – Catastrophic Automobile Accident Settlement
The Nance Cacciatore law firm takes great pride in having taken part in many notable cases over the decades. In one such example Nance Cacciatore attorney Jack Hamilton obtained a $2 million recovery for a young man who, as a pedestrian, had been struck by a tractor trailer on I-95. The plaintiff and his father had stopped along the side of the highway to remove a ladder that had fallen off another vehicle, as they thought that it represented a safety hazard. While the rest of the vehicles on the highway slowed, the defendant trucker did not. The plaintiff’s attorneys hired a truck driving expert to show that the truck driver should have had a clear view of sight from his lofty position in the cab and should have been able to avoid the plaintiff in the roadway.
Unfortunately, the truck ran directly into the young man causing serious and permanent bodily injury and brain damage. Attorney Hamilton hired 10 separate damage witnesses to evaluate the injured plaintiff and testify at trial. The trucking company originally denied liability but on the eve of trial paid $2 million to settle. Most of the money was placed into a structured settlement which will provide the plaintiff with benefits for the rest of his life. Our law firm is well acquainted with making legal history, and we look forward to more opportunities in the future.
$1.875 Million – Ant Bites Cause Death
The Nance Cacciatore law firm is very passionate about defending those who are unable to defend themselves. Particularly when it comes to the elderly. Unfortunately. nursing homes don’t always provide our loved ones with the care that they deserve and they can even be neglected to the point that they receive a life threatening injury. Nance Cacciatore has experience helping families get the compensation they and their elderly loved ones deserve.
In one notable case of nursing home neglect the defendant was a 73-year-old retired postal employee who was admitted to Mariner Healthcare of Atlantic Shores Nursing Home for rehabilitation following complications from cervical surgery. While sleeping in his bed at the nursing home, the decedent was attacked by fire ants and stung repeatedly on various parts of his body. The fire ant attack caused the decedent to suffer from anaphylactic shock which ultimately resulted in his death the next day. The decedent’s surviving spouse retained Nance Cacciatore to represent her for the wrongful death of her husband.
During the discovery phase of this case, Nance Cacciatore discovered that the defendant nursing home had a known on-going fire ant problem for a period of years which intensified into a significant infestation in the months immediately prior to the fire ant attack. The nursing home had been advised by its pest control company it had under contract to increase the pest control activities and/or alter the pest control program in order to combat and control fire ants. The nursing home, however, made an affirmative decision not to do so because they did not want to incur any additional expense associated with the increased service.
The defendants denied responsibility for decedent’s death and argued that the anaphylactic reaction had ended and completely resolved before the decedent died.
This recovery did not include punitive damages as Mariner Healthcare of Atlantic Shores had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and punitive damages were prohibited as a result of an order entered in the bankruptcy case.
Prior to trial, Nance Cacciatore recovered $1,875,000 for his client in this case.
It’s shameful when the elderly are neglected and taken advantage of. The Nance Cacciatore Law firm has great passion for making sure that nursing homes are held accountable when they don’t provide the vital services and care that our older loved ones have earned.
$1.7 million – Automobile Collision/Wrongful Death
In a landmark case Nance Cacciatore secured a $1.7 million settlement on behalf of the husband and children of a woman killed as a result of an automobile accident in Ft. Myers, Florida. The at-fault driver was operating a leased vehicle and his automobile insurance coverage had been canceled. This case was instrumental in a change in the law that later required long- term vehicle lessors to carry a combined property damage and bodily injury liability insurance coverage in the amount of $1 million or more. It was an honor for our firm to assist in achieving such a deserved outcome.
$1.6 Million – Bicycle Accident
Over the years the attorneys at Nance Cacciatore have had the privilege of taking part in some notable cases. Once such case involved a cyclist who was involved in a tragic accident with a large truck. A Brevard County jury awarded $1.6 million dollars to the Plaintiff whose leg was crushed when she was run over by an 18 wheel tractor trailer. The Plaintiff was riding her bicycle east on the Eau Gallie Causeway when the tractor trailer pulled out of the Coastal convenience store parking lot. The accident left the Melbourne woman with a malfunctioning ankle and the inability to walk without the use of crutches or a cane.
The case handled by Attorney John N. Hamilton was tried by a jury and the verdict rendered was believed to be the second largest personal injury verdict in Brevard County history at the time of the trial.
The case highlighted the problem with bike lanes in that area. Unlike bike paths, which permit two way traffic, riders must go with the flow of traffic on bicycle lanes. Being able to make our community safer by bringing to light safety issues that exist around our area is something we take very seriously at the Nance Cacciatore law firm.
$1.5 million – Police Officer killed by drunk driver, Verdict
On May 31, 1992 Nance Cacciatore took part in an extremely sad yet notable case. A Satellite Beach police officer, made a routine stop of a motor vehicle along Highway A1A in Satellite Beach. While working a routine traffic stop, the on-duty police officer was killed when a drunk driver rear-ended his motor vehicle that was stopped along the side of the road. This was an accident that was entirely preventable and senselessly tragic.
Nance Cacciatore with James H. Nance represented the mother and father of the deceased, a 22 year-old police officer, in a wrongful death action against the drunk driver and obtained a $1.5 million verdict at trial for their clients. Our firm was very pleased to be able to obtain this verdict for our client.
$1.4 million – Wrongful Death/Murder
Our law firm has taken part in many notable wrongful death cases since its inception. In one such case Nance Cacciatore received a $1.4 million verdict on behalf of the children of a man murdered by the defendant.
$1.25 Million – Motorcycle Accident Settlement
The law firm of Nance Cacciatore has taken part in many notable cases involving motorcycle accidents over the years. Furthermore, our firm has been able to obtain some sizable and noteworthy settlements over the decades for motorcycle accident victims. Ine one such example, Nance Cacciatore obtained a $1.25 million settlement for a Satellite Beach man serving in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Pendleton who was involved in a motorcycle/van accident in Los Angeles, California, that resulted in brain damage.
$1.2 Million – Pedestrian Accident Settlement
Nance Cacciatore has been involved with a large number of notable cases over the years. We’re very acquainted with the dangers of Brevard County roadways, especially for pedestrians. We’ve fought hard over the years to achieve landmark results for our clients.
The plaintiffs walking southbound along Croton Road on the bicycle path and stopped at its intersection with Treeline Boulevard. The defendant was driving his automobile southbound on Croton and attempting to turn left onto Treeline Boulevard. The other defendant was traveling northbound on Croton at an excessive rate of speed when his vehicle struck the turning vehicle operated by the first defendant forcing his vehicle toward the bike path striking the two pedestrians.
One of our clients suffered a fracture of the left clavicle, injury to the left shoulder and multiple lacerations on the scalp and knees. He had a loss of consciousness immediately following the trauma and suffered from dizziness.
Our other client suffered fractures of the right tibia, left femur, left ankle, left calcaneus, right fifth metacarpal, tears of the right knee ligament and meniscus, and multiple lacerations on the upper and lower extremities. She developed an infection following a bone graft.
S. Sammy Cacciatore obtained a joint settlement of $1,200.000.00. It was an honor for our law firm to be able to achieve such a verdict for our client.
$1.2 Million – Motorcycle Accident Settlement
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has been involved in many notable cases involving motorcycle accidents. It’s an all too common occurrence when careless drivers do not look for motorcycle riders on our roadways and serious injuries result. Nance Cacciatore has had the momentous privilege of representing motorcycle accident victims over the years.
The Plaintiff was seriously and permanently injured when a driver of an Enterprise Rent-a-Car turned in front of him while he was riding his motorcycle. He was forced to lay down the bike and in doing so suffered orthopedic injuries as well as a closed head injury. The Plaintiff was represented by Attorney Jack Hamilton and the case was settled at a mediation conference for $1.2 million. Most of the proceeds from that settlement were placed into a structured annuity which will pay the Plaintiff benefits for the rest of his life. Our firm was extremely humbled to be able to assist our client achieve this beneficial outcome.
$1.2 Million – Motorcycle Accident Settlement
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has a wealth of experience representing clients who have been involved in tragic motorcycles accidents. We’ve had the privilege of seeing our clients receive some sizable and noteworthy verdicts over the decades of service to the community. Our client was heading southbound on US 1 on his Indian motorcycle, not wearing a helmet, when the defendant made a left turn in front of him, violating his right-of-way. Various witnesses to the accident testified that the defendant must not have seen our client and also testified that our client was traveling within 5 mph of the posted 45 mph zone.
Due to the nature of the impact, the plaintiff was thrown some 10 feet into the air and landed on his back on the asphalt. He was unconscious at the scene and bleeding from his ears and mouth. He spent the next 8 days in an induced coma. He was ultimately diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, left temporal bone skull fracture, post-traumatic epilepsy and seizure disorder, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and a balance disorder. He was unable to return to his occupation in the automotive field. Nance Cacciatore settled with all insurance companies involved for $1.2 million. Our firm was extremely happy to be able to come to such a settlement for our client after he endured such a traumatic experience.
$1 Million – Roof Collapses: First Million Dollar Verdict in Brevard County
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has handled many prominent cases over the decades. One notable took place in 1971 when Nance Cacciatore obtained the first $1 million verdict in Brevard County. A worker was rendered paraplegic when the trusses supporting the roof of a new Sears store failed during a concrete pour and he was crushed by over 200,000 pounds of wet concrete. This landmark litigation is just one case among many that our law firm has had the opportunity to take part in here in Brevard County.
$1 Million – Dog Attack
The Nance Cacciatore law firm has taken part in many extraordinary and notable cases over the years. We fight hard for each client to make sure that they receive the compensation that they richly deserve.
One notable case involved a meter reader was walking her route when she came upon a house rented by the Defendant-tenant in Port St. John. As the client approached the house, four dogs – all pit bulls – leaped over a four-foot high fence and attacked her. She tried using pepper spray to force the dogs to back off, but it had no effect. The dogs immediately bit her and dragged her around the yard, their sharp teeth and clenched jaws showing no signs of letting up. Once able to get away, she ran to a neighbor’s house for help, with the neighbor calling 911.The client sustained a number of injuries, with severe scarring and disfigurement to the face.
Investigation is very important in these types of cases, so when she contacted Nance Cacciatore, our investigators interviewed several of the Defendant-tenant’s neighbors and learned that a number of previous complaints had been made to the property owner, Penn Properties, and its trustee about the dogs, with one neighbor even resorting to a claw hammer to defend himself against these vicious hounds. Our firm filed suit, based in part on the fact that defendant Penn Properties either knew or should have known that the dogs were dangerous.
Based on our investigation and subsequent negotiations with the defendant’s insurance carrier, James Nance settled the case for the policy limit of $1 million, giving our client the financial security to cover future medical expenses and lost wages without worrying about how she will make ends meet. This case is yet another example of our law firm going to whatever lengths that it takes to have a successful outcome for our clients.
Economic Damages without Permanent Injury
In 1991 Jack Hamilton obtained an $85,000 verdict for the plaintiff who had been injured in an auto accident. The jury found no permanent injury – and therefore no money for pain and suffering – but awarded $85,000 for economic damages (medical bills and lost wages). The defendant insurance company Allstate appealed and attorney Jack Hamilton argued the case before the 5th District Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the verdict and the judgment, making Florida law history. This was the first case the held that a plaintiff can still collect economic damages without there being a permanent injury. This holding has since been adopted by the Florida Supreme Court and is now the law of the land.
The Tobacco Case
The Florida case – which was the second in the nation to be filed – was settled on August 24, 1997, for $11.3 Billion. The tobacco case turned out to be the largest civil case in the history of American jurisprudence and the Florida case was the largest in the history of Florida. At the start, however, it was not obvious that the case had merit or anywhere near that kind of potential. Big Tobacco had had an incredible record of successfully defending cases and defended them with a “scorched earth” policy. They had unlimited resources and hired the biggest and best national law firms to represent them. When the case came to us, it was generally viewed as a “long shot” at best.
Nance Cacciatore was one of only nine law firms chosen by the Governor Chiles to represent the state. The financial commitment of each firm was significant, around $500,000 in up front costs alone (with no guarantee of prevailing). The litigation lasted for over four years and during that time more expenditures were needed by the firms to finance the case. All of the partners in the firm, Jim Nance, Sammy Cacciatore, Ron Duryea and Jack Hamilton worked on the case, shared in the costs, attended depositions and meetings, and ultimately participated in the recovery. Jim Nance was the partner who did the majority of the work and who was chosen by the group of firms to be chief liaison among the attorneys.
The tobacco case was unique in that – unlike traditional tobacco cases where a smoker was suing the tobacco company for damages – we represented the state of Florida against the tobacco industry for the cost of medical treatment for injured smokers. The plaintiff was not an individual smoker (who should have known better) but an innocent party, the state of Florida. We were not seeking “intangible” damages like pain and suffering but rather “actual” medical expense incurred by the state to treat Medicaid recipients for disease caused by their years of smoking tobacco. This made the case different and potentially winnable (Big Tobacco had, up to that point, been very successful in defending individual cases brought by smokers). The Florida case settled in August of 1997 for $11.3 Billion.
The Juliana Mason Case
In 1971 Nance Cacciatore obtained the first $1 Million verdict on behalf of an African American in the United States. The plaintiff Juliana Mason was a concrete worker who was seriously injured when the roof of the Sears building in Melbourne collapsed, causing him to fall some 20 feet. When he awoke, the doctors told him that the news was grim – he was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The defendants in the case were the building contractors involved in construction of the scaffolding and the roof. There was no settlement offer made before trial. During jury selection, attorneys Jim Nance and Sammy Cacciatore had to deal with many jurors who had deep-seeded prejudice about the prospect of awarding money damages to a black man. The trial lasted over 4 weeks and reporters worked in shifts to cover the story. The jury deliberated for some 33 hours. When the landmark verdict was announced there was an eruption in the courtroom. The headline in the Florida Today newspaper said, “From itinerant cotton picker to millionaire.”
Mason, who was 31 at the time, had grown up in a poverty stricken area around Tuskegee, Alabama. He was the son of itinerant laborers and picked cotton as a boy. He dropped out of school in the 5th grade and moved to Florida to pick oranges. When he landed a construction job making $1.95 an hour, he said, “I was on top of the world. That was more money than I’d ever made before.” Mason promised to give his son opportunities in life that he’d never had growing up.