On February 11, 2010, 23-year-old Scott Wilson drowned in his car when it flipped and landed upside down in a Wellington canal after an early morning auto accident. The other driver, polo mogul John Goodman, is accused of driving while drunk and impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, colliding with Wilson’s vehicle, leaving the scene of the accident, and waiting about an hour before calling 911. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend prior to alerting authorities to the accident.
A criminal trial against Goodman is scheduled to begin in South Florida on March 6th. He is charged with D.U.I. manslaughter and motor vehicular homicide. According to Goodman, now 48, his cell phone was not working at the time of the accident and he left the scene to get help. After the accident, Goodman’s blood alcohol content was purportedly more than twice Florida’s legal limit of .08 percent.
Wilson’s parents have also filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against Goodman. The lawsuit, also scheduled to begin in March, made international headlines after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. Although attorneys for Goodman’s minor biological children have asked a Miami-Dade judge to toss out the adoption, it makes Hutchins the current beneficiary of a $300 million trust established for his children.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley is presiding over the Wilsons’ civil case. He has expressed disbelief over the adoption and called it a “legal twilight zone.” In September, Judge Kelley refused to allow the Wilsons to introduce evidence in the civil case regarding the contents of the trust because Goodman’s children, not Goodman, were the beneficiaries. On January 26th, Judge Kelley reversed his decision and stated information about the trust may now be presented to jurors.
Goodman is an heir to a $1.4 billion fortune. According to Goodman’s civil attorney, the adoption was merely an estate planning tool designed to protect the contents of the trust. Litigation concerning the adoption is currently taking place in Florida, Texas, and Delaware.
Losing someone you love is always devastating, but it can be especially difficult when your loved one died as a result of a preventable accident. Unfortunately, tragic deaths such as this are increasingly common. A wrongful death claim can provide compensation to close relatives of someone killed due to another person’s carelessness, negligence or wrongful act. Your ability to file a wrongful death case will depend on your relationship to the deceased person. In Florida, a family member has up to two years to file a claim for wrongful death. Because of the limited time period in which to file your case, it is important to speak with a qualified wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a fatal accident.
If you lost a family member due to someone else’s wrongful act or carelessness, contact Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. Our experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys will assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve. Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. represents clients throughout the State of Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Weston, Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County. Call Lazarus & Lazarus at (954) 356-0006 to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney today. You may also contact the firm through our website.
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Two years after fatal crash, polo mogul faces criminal and civil trials, by Peter Franceschina, Sun Sentinel