Joyce and Reyes Personal Injury Attorney Praises $15 Million Verdict in Miami Wrongful Death Case
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 27, 2014 - A Miami-Dade County jury awarded $15 million to the parents of a victim of a drunk-driving crash.
More than two years after Carlos Lacayo allegedly killed five pedestrians while driving drunk, his whereabouts remain unknown.
But on December 12, 2013, a civil jury awarded a large sum in a wrongful death suit brought by the family of victim Emerson Kastenholz.
“It is good to see a jury take such a strong stand against the defendant's alleged actions,” said Tampa personal injury attorney Robert Joyce, who is not involved in the case. “Drunk driving must not be tolerated by law enforcement or juries.”
According to court documents, Lacayo ran into a crowd of pedestrians on the shoulder of Interstate 95 in Miami in the pre-dawn hours of March 5, 2011. Minutes earlier, the victims had been involved in a series of minor auto accidents that began when one driver clipped a disabled vehicle parked in the emergency lane. The motorists were waiting for police to arrive when Lacayo allegedly veered from the express lane and plowed his mother's Honda sedan into them.
Four victims died instantly: Evidia Rodriguez, 57; Antuan Fernandez Perez, 22; Mirtha Quiepo, 48; and Kastenholz, 23. A fifth, Ana Belkis Gomez, 38, died at Jackson Memorial Hospital five days later.
Kastenholz had recently graduated from the University of Miami and planned to attend graduate school.
Court documents say Lacayo's blood alcohol content — after being admitted to the hospital some four hours after the crash — was still 0.127 percent, well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, he admitted that he had been drinking earlier that night.
Lacayo was later charged with five counts of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter, but he was already on the run. Lacayo remains a fugitive. If arrested and convicted on all charges, he faces a prison sentence of up to 75 years.
Michael and Kathleen Kastenholz, Emerson's parents, each testified about the ways their son's death has affected them. Lacayo's insurance company hired an attorney to represent him. His mother testified that she has no knowledge of his whereabouts.
The jury awarded $6 million to Michael Kastenholz and $9 million to Kathleen Kastenholz.
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307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
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