Unnecessary Roughness

Workers’ comp lawyer Benjamin Boscolo represents plumbers, bus drivers and Baltimore Ravens

Published in 2011 Maryland Super Lawyers Magazine — January 2011

Benjamin Boscolo believes it was a stroke of luck that led him to his gig at ChasenBoscolo in Greenbelt. He’s right—about the stroke. He grew up near a golf course, played often with his brother, and it was on the links that he encountered people who, unbeknownst to them, helped inform the young Boscolo’s decisions about his future.

“I noticed the people who could play golf during the weekdays were doctors, lawyers and business owners,” he says. “It seemed being a lawyer was a great way to have control over your life.

“Even more so, there was just something about standing up and arguing for people that sounded like a lot of fun.”

But it was hard work, not luck, that got him into college. “I worked two jobs during the summers, one on the road as a laborer during the day, and at night, as a nurse’s aide in a retirement home,” he says. “The money got me to Lafayette [College], and at Lafayette I got the academic keys to go to law school at American University.”

But the key to his ideal practice area didn’t quite fit the lock. “I was a bit of a tree hugger as a young man and wanted to save the environment,” he says. “So I focused on that until my second year [of law school], when I found that the only jobs in the world of environmental law entailed me telling companies exactly how many trees they could cut down before they broke the law.”

So he switched gears and enrolled in a legal clinic in which he represented inmates and the problems they encountered behind bars. It was while cross-examining an expert in a Baltimore County trial that centered on an abused resident of a state mental institution that he had an epiphany. “I realized there was only one kind of lawyer I wanted to be,” Boscolo says. “One who was always on his feet.”

He clerked for a Title VII firm, representing people in sex, age and race discrimination cases, but, he says, “My job was making me grumpy, and by association, I was making my brother, who lived with me, miserable.”

His brother, a claims adjuster, had just settled a case with workers’ compensation lawyer Barry Chasen, whom he thought would get along great with Boscolo.

“Very good things happened,” Boscolo says. “Barry is a family man, who was up on his feet every day for his clients. It was completely up my alley. Little did I know how much I’d fall in love with representing folks who worked for a living.”

His clients include doctors, bus operators, plumbers, iron workers … and professional athletes. He’s represented members of the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, the Washington Capitals and D.C. United. “Being a frustrated, mediocre athlete, nothing could be more interesting to me than combining the law, which I love, with sports,” he says.

He even filed a workers’ comp claim with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly the WWF) in 2004 on behalf of Bret “The Hitman” Hart. “Bret suffered a really bad concussion at the MCI Center [now the Verizon Center],” Boscolo says. “He had a contract under which he was an employee and covered by workers’ comp, but he lived in Canada, the WWF was headquartered in Georgia, and the injury happened in D.C.”

Boscolo made the claim in D.C., which he thought was the most favorable locale. “I tried to secure D.C. jurisdiction over the claim, arguing that by virtue, his being the reigning WWF champ, he had a virtual presence in the D.C. area on a daily basis, with figurines, television revenues, merchandise, etc.” Boscolo lost the case, although it did garner a lot of press.

But he won on behalf of Ty Jones, a top Chicago Blackhawks minor league hockey prospect who suffered a career-ending shoulder injury while fighting on the ice. Jones’ employer, the Norfolk Admirals minor league hockey team, refused to pay workers’ compensation on the basis that he intentionally got into the fight.

“I argued that fighting is part of your employment as a hockey player. When you’re told to go after the other team’s leading scorer, you do it,” Boscolo says, adding with a laugh, “I got a lot of calls from Canadian sports journalists after that one.”

So is repping athletes glamorous work? “It’s really not any different representing a professional athlete than it is any other worker,” Boscolo says. “Like anyone, most pro athletes don’t know or understand their rights when injured on the job. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the person does—when you help someone gain control of their life, it’s the most rewarding thing.”

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