CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 17, 2013) – After a weeklong trial, a Miami-Dade jury awarded plaintiffs Robert and Michelle Laurenceau $3.6 million in compensatory damages in a negligence lawsuit involving a hit and run accident against Defendant Mary Lindsay.
Sgt. Robert Laurenceau, a decorated Miami police officer, was on scene pursuing an armed robbery suspect on 41st Avenue and 17th Street in Miami and was part of a police perimeter when he was struck by a vehicle operated by Lindsay at about 2:37 a.m. on June 5, 2010. The impact sent the officer airborne causing his head to hit the windshield and him to land on his head and neck. Lindsay fled but was eventually apprehended by another officer who was also on the robbery scene. Laurenceau was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where he underwent an eight-hour neck fusion surgery.
According to the complaint, Lindsay was arrested for driving under the influence after failing sobriety tests and was legally intoxicated when she hit the officer. Lindsay admitted liability at trail, which by law prevented the plaintiffs’ attorneys from informing the jury that she pled guilty to DUI and fleeing the scene.
“With the defendant admitting liability at trial, the challenge became demonstrating to the jury the severity of the injury and the impact it has had on the plaintiffs and their family,” said attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, partner at Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson and counsel for the Laurenceaus. “Thankfully, the jury recognized what it means to have your health taken from you in a blink of an eye and the enormous burden it causes the victim and family, physically and financially. It was an honor to represent officer Laurenceau who nearly gave his life protecting the community when this tragic incident occurred.”
Sgt. Laurenceau returned to work eight months after the accident and was cleared for full-time duty; however, he suffers from chronic pain in his neck and back and experiences numbness in his fingers and hands. He is also restricted to lifting overhead.
“Robert is physically strong and mentally tough, which posed a challenge in conveying to the jury the pain he has been suffering,” said Patrick Montoya, partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, who represented the Laurenceaus along with Gonzalez. “The jury understood the extent of the injury and it is extremely rewarding to deliver this verdict to Robert and his family.”
The jury delivered the verdict on Wednesday, Oct. 16, in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Civil Division, with Judge Jose Rodriguez presiding, awarding the plaintiffs $2.5 million in pain and suffering and an additional $1.1 million earmarked for lost wages, medical bills, and past and future lost earnings. The defendant was represented by Daniel Santaniello and Heather Calhoon of the law firm Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo & Jones.
Gonzalez and Montoya have successfully represented police officers in the past. Gonzalez represented a group of officers against various police departments for discriminatory testing practices. In a separate case, Gonzalez and Montoya secured a $10 million verdict for Sgt. Orestes “Oreo” Lorenzo, a City of North Miami Beach Police Officer, who was fatally struck by a driver in his patrol car on his way home.