Miami, Florida, June 24, 2005 – A Miami jury awarded Jorge Cabrera, $65.1 million in punitive and compensatory damages for the death of his son, Jorgie Luis Cabrera. The jury found that the death was caused by shoddy electrical work that led to the electrocution and death of the young 6th grader.
In October 1998, Jorgie Cabrera was walking to his father’s house when a severe rainstorm broke out. Jorgie sought shelter at a nearby bus shelter that was lit. When Jorgie failed to show up, Jorgie’s family began searching for him. He was found dead the next morning, face down, covered with ants, and burnt.
Ervin A. Gonzalez and Bob Martinez, lawyers for Jorgie Cabrera, argued that Eller Media Corp, owned by Clear Channel Communications, was responsible for his death. During the 9 week trial, Gonzalez and Martinez showed the jury evidence of shoddy electrical work done by an unlicensed Eller Media electrician. The evidence included a lack of bonding and fuses, an improperly installed transformer and grounding rounds, and faulty wiring. “They created a death trap and they knew it”, said Ervin A. Gonzalez. “Eller media knew they were hiring unlicensed electricians and failed to supervise their work. Had they done so, they would have seen the improperly installed materials and the missing fuses that were the difference between life and death for Jorgie.”
Eller Media’s lawyers argued that lightning, not shoddy electrical wiring, were the cause of death. The jury disagreed and awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $61 million in punitive damages. “In a perfect world, people do the right thing for the right reason,” said Gonzalez. “Unfortunately, it’s not perfect, but it helps to have a legal system that allows for punitive damages, which ultimately sends a message and makes big corporations do the right thing.” Eller Media is worth $458 million, an amount that the jury took into consideration when awarding damages.