FT. LAUDERDALE, FL ( Dec. 10, 2008 ) – A Broward County Jury awarded Yvette Lorenzo, and her three daughters, $11.5 Million in compensatory damages against the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and William and Natasha Russo, for the wrongful death of her husband, N. Miami Beach Police Officer Orestes “Oreo” Lorenzo, today announced attorneys Ervin Gonzalez and Patrick Montoya at the law firm of Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, Florida.
Officer “Oreo” Lorenzo, a highly decorated Police officer with the City of North Miami Beach Police Department, was driving westbound on Pines Boulevard in Pembroke Pines, Florida on July 2, 2004, when 18 year old Natasha Russo failed to stop at a stop sign and attempted to make a left turn eastbound on to Pines Boulevard, causing Officer Lorenzo to swerve to avoid a direct impact. As a result, his car swerved and tripped on the median curb rolled over, and slammed up against a Royal Palm tree within the median that crushed the roof of his police car and ejected him into the street. He sustained a serious head injury that resulted in his death a week later.
The lawsuit alleged that Ms. Russo was negligent for failing to remain stopped at the stop sign and yield the right of way to Officer Lorenzo. The lawsuit also alleged that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) violated its own internal rules and standards by allowing a drainage curb (referred to by the Department as an “F” curb) and very large Royal Palm trees to be present in the median of a road with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour. “The Florida Department of Transportation rules do not allow curbs and Royal Palm Trees to be present on roads with speed limits greater than 45 miles per hour precisely because of the danger that they present to motorists who may roll over when they impact the curb of the median at high speeds.”, said Ervin A. Gonzalez, attorney for the Lorenzo Family. “Had the FDOT implemented its own rules, there would be no “F” curb or rigid tree trunks on Pines Blvd. and Officer Lorenzo would have walked away from the accident.”
The Jury agreed and found in favor of “Oreo” Lorenzo’s family awarding them 70% of the total $11,537,700.
“While no money will fairly compensate the family for their loss, the verdict recognizes the tremendous harm that the Defendant’s negligence caused this beautiful family,” said Gonzalez. “This tragedy would have been avoided if Ms. Russo had been paying attention and if the FDOT had followed its own rules and standards. As a community we rely on the implementation of FDOT’s rules and standards and we need to make sure that these dangerous curbs and Royal Palm Trees are limited to roads with appropriate design speeds so that this type of tragedy never happens again. ”
Officer “Oreo” Lorenzo served eight years on the force where he worked road patrol, became a field-training officer, joined the SWAT team, and rose to detective, earning awards and commendations along the way, including “Police Officer of the Year” and a medal of valor for resuscitated a girl who had been struck by lightning, saving her life. Officer Lorenzo is survived by his wife, Yvette Lorenzo, 42, and daughters, Leilani, 19, Brianni, 17 and Rachel, 10.