On Friday, a South Florida jury convicted polo magnate John Goodman of vehicular homicide and DUI-manslaughter in connection with a fatal February 2010 automobile accident that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. The six member jury deliberated for less than six hours before handing down a guilty verdict. Following the jury’s decision, 48-year-old Goodman was immediately taken into custody and now faces up to 30 years in prison. Although he plans to appeal the conviction, Goodman will likely remain in custody until he is sentenced on April 30th.
The high profile case made international headlines after Goodman, heir to a $1.4 billion fortune, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. At trial, Goodman was accused of driving his Bentley while impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, crashing into Wilson’s vehicle, and leaving the scene of the accident despite that Wilson’s vehicle was upside down in a canal. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend following the accident and reportedly waited more than one hour before calling authorities. Wilson drowned as a result of the Wellington car accident.
Goodman testified at trial that he suffered a concussion in the crash and did not see Wilson’s vehicle in the canal. He also testified he tried to stop, but his Bentley instead surged forward out of control. The defense provided expert testimony that the throttle on Goodman’s car was somehow stuck open immediately prior to the collision. According to jurors, the expert’s testimony was not convincing.
When authorities tested Goodman’s blood alcohol level, it measured .177 percent, more than twice the State of Florida’s legal limit. Goodman’s defense team claimed although he drank over the course of the evening, he was not driving while impaired. According to Goodman, he instead drank most of the alcohol in his system following the crash at a nearby barn owned by a fellow polo player. Part of Goodman’s defense was that he drank in a so-called “man cave” in his friend’s barn in an effort to alleviate the pain of a broken wrist. Still, it reportedly did not sit well with jurors when Goodman admitted to running the stop sign and having a few drinks prior to getting behind the wheel.
In addition to the criminal trial, Goodman is also facing a $100 million wrongful death civil lawsuit brought by Wilson’s parents in connection with the accident.
Unfortunately, loved ones can die in a tragic accident like this at any time. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s impairment or carelessness, a skilled wrongful death attorney can help you file your claim. At Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A., our Hollywood, Florida wrongful death lawyers are available to assist you. We understand the pain and anguish that accompanies the unexpected loss of a loved one. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you obtain compensation in order to relieve part of your financial burden. Our law firm represents clients throughout Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Weston, Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County. To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case, contact Lazarus & Lazarus through our website or call our attorneys today at (954) 356-0006.
Florida Lawmakers Reform Personal Injury Protection Insurance, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 14, 2012
Two Killed, Five Injured in Automobile Collision Near Boca Raton, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 13, 2012
Polo magnate Goodman found guilty in DUI manslaughter case, by Peter Franceschina and Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel
Two years after fatal crash, polo mogul faces criminal and civil trials, by Peter Franceschina, Sun Sentinel