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March 27, 2014

Chamber honorees to receive awards

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While Ommegang is a company on the rise, Oneonta lawyer John Scarzafava has a long list of achievements under his belt. 

The 66-year-old Oneonta High School graduate said he knew from the time he was in elementary school that he wanted to be a trial lawyer. Watching television shows such as “Perry Mason,” he said, showed him that the practice of law could be “an exciting profession.”

Scarzafava drew the national spotlight when he represented a Binghamton woman in a lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company. Nancy Denny’s case was the first in the nation to go to trial regarding roll-overs associated with the Ford Bronco II. Denny was awarded $1.2 million after a jury determined the vehicle was unsafe. 

That case was one among many in which the firm of Scarzafava and Basdekis represented people who were “injured by bad products,” as the firm’s website says. 

“We have the opportunity to be the voice of the people who otherwise would have no one else to speak for them,” Scarzafava explained. “It’s something you don’t walk away from,” he said. 

The 1965 Oneonta High School graduate said receiving the Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen award is a distinct honor that serves as just another confirmation of the wisdom of his decision to establish his practice in Oneonta. 

“I know the important role the Chamber plays in the community,” he said. 

To be considered in the same company as such past recipients of the award as Judge Robert Harlem was something he never expected, he said. 

While his age might suggest retirement plans, Scarzafava said he has no intention of leaving the field. With a partner and an associate, “I can afford to be more selective about the cases I take on.”

Law firm partner Theo Basdekis said the award is a nice recognition of Scarzafava’s tireless efforts, not only in representing the injured and disabled in this community, but also in stepping up to the plate through donations of time and money to assist the community, including the United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties and Family Service Agency.

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