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ARTICLE ID 187541

$________ GROSS – MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE – AUTO/MOTORCYCLE COLLISION – NEGLIGENT LEFT TURN BY COUNTY VEHICLE – WRONGFUL DEATH AT AGE 48 – 10% COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE FOUND FOR FAILING TO WEAR HELMET.

Pasco County, FL

The decedent was a 48-year-old police officer for the City of Tampa who was enjoying a day off, riding his motorcycle. The plaintiff alleged that an employee of the defendant Pasco County negligently made a left turn from the opposite direction in a county vehicle, causing a collision which ended the decedent’s life. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for speeding and failing to wear a motorcycle helmet.

The decedent was riding his motorcycle on May 1, ________ with the right-of-way. A pick-up truck, owned by the defendant county and driven by a county employee, approached from the opposite direction and made a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the decedent was not speeding at the time of the collision and that he had no opportunity to avoid the impact. An eyewitness also asserted that the decedent did not appear to be speeding at just prior to the accident. Evidence showed that the decedent was not wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of his death. However, the plaintiff’s biomechanical expert testified that the collision would have resulted in the decedent’s death, even if he had been wearing a helmet.

The decedent was pronounced dead approximately an hour after the collision. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head causing a basilar skull fracture. The decedent was survived by his wife and three minor children.

The defendant testified that he never saw the decedent’s approaching motorcycle prior to the impact. The defendant’s accident reconstruction/biomedical engineer testified that the decedent was riding his motorcycle at a speed of 68 mph in a 55 mph zone when the collision occurred. This expert also opined that a motorcycle helmet would have prevented the injuries which ultimately resulted in the decedent’s death.The jury found the defendant 90% negligent and the decedent 10% comparatively negligent for failing to wear a helmet. The plaintiffs were awarded $________ in damages, reduced accordingly. The award included $________ to the decedent’s estate: $1.5 million to his wife and $________ million to each of his three minor children. Motions for new trial by both parties (the plaintiff contended that the comparative negligence was inappropriate in light of the lack of a helmet law in Florida) and motion for remittitur by the defendant were denied.

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