Steve Barnes, one half of the Buffalo-based law firm Cellino & Barnes and best known for his ubiquitous commercials with partner Ross Cellino, featuring their signature jingle, has reportedly died in a single-engine plane crash in New York’s Genesee County. According to the Buffalo News, a female relative also died in the crash, which had no survivors.
The attorneys, who have worked together since the mid ‘90s, expanded their personal injury legal services nationwide over the next two decades. However, mounting tension and different professional visions caused friction between the two, leading to their dissolution of Cellino & Barnes in 2017, which was finalized in June of this year. In its stead, the pair agreed to separate into the Barnes Firm and Cellino Law respectively, a divide that was still in the process of taking place at the time of the attorney’s death.
Following news of his long-time partner’s demise, Ross Cellino memorialized Barnes in a statement, and in doing so, identified the female victim of the crash as Steve Barnes’ niece Elizabeth Barnes. “It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic passing of Steve Barnes in a plane crash,” he said in a statement reported by Spectrum News Buffalo’s Stephen Marth. “Steve and I worked together for many years at our firm. He was always a fearless advocate for his clients. His passing is a significant loss for the legal community.”
“Steve’s greatest accomplishment was his three children Josiah, Rachel, and Julia,” Cellino continues. “Steve is survived by his longtime partner, Ellen Sturm, also an attorney at our firm. Equally heartbreaking is the passing of Elizabeth Barnes, sister of Brian Barnes and daughter of Rich Barnes, Steve’s brother and an attorney at our firm. All of us at Cellino and Barnes are deeply saddened. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Barnes family during this difficult time.”