A Florida jury has issued a record judgement for $563 million dollars against a car dealership after it loaned a car to a drunk driver who hit and killed a man on a scooter.
According to Law360, in May of 2013 an intoxicated Chris Moreno-Vega borrowed a vehicle from Auto America Automotive Corp. and drove down the South Federal Highway where Timothy Blaikie was riding his scooter. Moreno-Vega struck Blaikie, who was thrown from the scooter and hit the pavement. Blaikie was killed in the accident.
Blaikie’s wife Suzzane filed a lawsuit in November of 2013 claiming negligence against Moreno-Vega, Auto America and Penrod’s Elbo Room Inc. – the club where Moreno-Vega allegedly became intoxicated. The club was later dismissed in the case.
Moreno-Vega was found guilty and is now serving probation on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. But the Blaikie family placed most of the blame on Auto America for giving a car to someone who was drunk.
The jury only deliberated for 25 minutes before reaching a verdict and awarded an amount that was four times greater than the Blaikie’s attorneys had requested. Neither Moreno-Vega nor Auto America have any type of significant assets or insurance, and the law firm representing the family doesn’t expect the defendants will be ably to pay such a large verdict.
“The number is plainly compelling, but it’s not so much what the dollar figure is that’s important at all. It’s what it represents...It is one a validation to this family that Tim Blaikie, he matters, and that his loss is profound and will be felt forever by Suzanne and their son, Joey. And then secondly it sends a message to these two defendants who are responsible for killing him,” said David Brill, an attorney for Blaikie
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