Motorcycle Man

Anthony Castelli tries to make the riding easier for Cincinnati riders

Published in 2018 Ohio Super Lawyers — January 2018

Anthony Castelli remembers the first time he got on a motorcycle. He was 21 and decided to try out his new bike—without the benefit of training. 

“I thought it would be a hell of a rush,” he recalls. “Within about 10 seconds, I laid the bike down, my head hit the ground, and the helmet I was wearing fell off. My sister was just rolling her eyes. But I got up on the bike and away I went.”

For more than 35 years, Castelli has been representing Cincinnati-area bikers and drivers involved in much more serious accidents. 

He became interested in the law as a child, when his grandmother—a legal secretary—took him to the courthouse on Saturdays. But it wasn’t until a stint as a social worker, dealing with emotionally and developmentally disabled people and abused children, during and after college, that Castelli decided to go to law school. 

“There were institutional/bureaucratic strictures that prevented one from really being able to personally help people and touch their lives,” Castelli says. “I thought that, as a personal injury lawyer, I would have more power to help people get back on their feet.”

While at law school, he clerked for Cincinnati trial lawyer Walter Beall: “I did investigations, took photographs of accident scenes and interviewed witnesses. He was a great teacher.” After graduation, Castelli stayed on at Beall, Hermanies & Bortz (which became Major Castelli & Goodman, but no longer exists) until 1999, when he opened his own office off Montgomery Road in the Cincinnati suburbs, where there is a sizeable motorcycle scene. He saw other PI attorneys branding themselves as motorcycle attorneys without knowing how to ride, and decided he wouldn’t do that. “This time,” Castelli says, “I took the new-rider course, and really learned how to ride.” 

In 2012, Castelli hosted “Cincinnati Biker Life,” a radio show on WAIF-FM: “I tried to bring in people who were involved, so everyone could see that the prejudice people had about motorcyclists shouldn’t be there—women are big riders, policemen are riding, firemen, business guys, vets.”

Castelli handles a variety of personal injury cases but enjoys working with the motorcycle community.

His most memorable motorcycle case dates back to 2008. A man in his 20s hit a piece of blackout tape placed in a construction zone by the state DOT and a contractor. “They left the tape so long that it became slippery,” says Castelli. “When my guy hit it, his bike went airborne and he was killed.” The motorcyclist’s mother brought suits against the contractor and tape manufacturer, as well as the state DOT. “After about 20 depositions, we were able to determine they knew there had been prior instances of people hitting that blackout tape,” Castelli says. “But no one had been killed.” 

The case was settled out of court, with three settlements—one against the manufacturer, one against ODOT and one against the contractor—totaling in excess of six figures. “But this case was more than just some compensation,” says Castelli. “They no longer use the tape in the state of Ohio.”

According to Statista, Ohio has the third-highest number of registered motorcycles in the country. So, in 2011, Castelli published The Ohio Motorcycle Bible: The Guide to Protecting Ohio Motorcyclists and Their Families. “It’s something I give away for free on my website,” he says. He also hands it out at motorcycle events.

“I always try to communicate that motorcyclists are pretty good people,” he says. “And I teach motorcyclists that they’d better get some good insurance: If you go down on your bike, you’re likely going to get hurt pretty bad. A lot of people just buy the minimum insurance, and if the guy that hits you has minimum insurance, there’s really no [financial] recovery.” 

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