Meet our Staff:
The Office of General Counsel consists of the following Staff:
David J. State, General Counsel. David is responsible for the functions of the Authority’s Legal and Procurement Departments. The Office of the General Counsel serves the public by providing high quality legal services to support the NFTA’s mission of providing safe, efficient and professional transportation services that enhance the quality of life throughout the Buffalo Niagara region.
Vicky-Marie J. Brunette, Deputy General Counsel. Vicky manages the Authority’s litigation team and focuses her litigation practice on motor vehicle negligence, premises liability, and police professional liability. She is also chair of the Systems Integrity Committee, which handles authority wide ethics and integrity issues. As Deputy, Vicky also provides legal advice, counsel and opinions to the Board of Commissioners, Executive Director and Authority business centers in the areas of common carrier law; transportation law; public authorities law; public officers law; diversity and inclusion; wrongful death; premises liability; motor vehicle accidents; No-Fault insurance and police professional liability.
Mary E. Perla, Senior Counsel. Mary’s focus is serving corporate and transactional needs of the Aviation group at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Niagara Falls International Airport, including negotiation and drafting of contracts to procure goods and services and acquire and dispose of real property for in and around the airports. She is also responsible for the airport’s contractual matters, providing opinions and ensuring compliance with laws, rules and regulations.
Wayne R. Gradl, Counsel. Wayne’s primary focus is employment and labor law. Wayne handles grievances, arbitrations and assists in contract negotiations with these unions. In addition, Wayne provides the NFTA/NFTM with advice regarding employee dismissals and discipline and discrimination and other Equal Employment Opportunity matters, including claims by passengers as well as representation in Federal and New York State courts and before administrative agencies such as the EEOC and New York State Division of Human Rights.
John P. DePaolo, Counsel. John focuses on litigation and the defense of personal injury matters including motor vehicle negligence, premises liability, No-fault insurance; police professional liability and insurance coverage. John’s background ranges from being a former criminal prosecutor to enjoying a lengthy career in the private sector as an insurance defense litigator before joining the NFTA. John has tried approximately 100 cases to verdict.
Jodie Zolnowski, Paralegal and Assistant to the General Counsel. Jodie’s primary responsibility is to the General Counsel and assisting in the duties and responsibilities that are required of the General Counsel’s office and the NFTA’s Board of Commissioners. Jodie is also the primary paralegal for Mary Perla and Wayne Gradl supporting our aviation, labor, transaction, procurement, civil rights and EEO needs. She is also the secondary paralegal to the Deputy General Counsel, Vicky Brunette, and John DePaolo supporting the litigation needs of the Authority.
Debra D. Kashishian, Senior Paralegal. Deb is the primary paralegal supporting Vicky Brunette and her caseload and litigation needs. Deb has more than 40 years of experience in both the private and public sector. She is responsible for pleading preparation, file management, medical records, scheduling and trial preparation on behalf of Vicky. She also mentors incoming paralegal interns.
Sheila Keane, Paralegal. Sheila is the primary paralegal supporting John DePaolo and his caseload and litigation needs. Her career focused on the private sector prior to joining the NFTA. Sheila is responsible for pleading preparation, trial preparation, file management, medical records and scheduling on behalf of John.