JURY FINDS TRUCK THAT WAS REAR-ENDED 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR CAUSING ACCIDENT AND INJURIES to 86 year old Plaintiff.
On March 7, 2011, Charles and Betty Botta were heading home from a
nearby relative’s home in Boynton Beach, Florida. The neighborhood was out
of the power and therefore, several streets lamps and homes did not have
power. Florida Power & Light Company (FP&L) responded to the power outage
in order to locate the source of the problem and then repair same. An FP&L
“trouble truck” arrived on SW 18th Street in Boynton Beach to determine if a
transformer behind one of the homes on the street needed repair. The FP&L
trouble truck was a big truck weighing more than 27,000 pounds. The FP&L
driver parked on the roadway of a two lane road. It was uncontested that
the FP&L trouble truck occupied almost the entire width of the lane heading
southbound. The FP&L driver testified to turning on all his lights
(flashing lights, strobe lights, and blinking lights) before he left the
truck and went to the back of the home to inspect the transformer.
According to the FP&L truck driver, less than two (2) minutes after leaving
the truck to head to the back of the home and inspect the transformer, the
plaintiff, Charles Botta, (86 years old and legally blind in one eye)
collided into the rear of the FP&L truck. As a result of the collision,
Betty Botta, a front seat passenger in her husband car, had her left arm
below the elbow severed at the scene from the airbag deployment.
There was no dispute that the Plaintiff collided into the back of
the FP&L truck. It was FP&L’s position throughout the entirety of the
litigation and trial that “this was a simple rear-end and that the Plaintiff
failed to see what there was to be seen.” FP&L presented testimony of the
Plaintiff’s optamalogist who testified that Plaintiff driver was legally
blind in the left eye as a result of macla degeneration from 1996 and
Plaintiff driver‘s vision in the right eye was 20/40 corrected. It was FP&L
position that the Plaintiff driver should not have been driving and failed
to see what there was to be seen.
There were three witnesses to the case aside from the Plaintiff
driver and Defendant truck driver. FP&L driver along with two witnesses
claimed that the FP&L truck had on all its lights (flashing, blinking and
strobe lights) and the FP&L truck looked like it was a Christmas tree.
Plaintiff driver along with another witness testified the lights on the
truck were not flashing, not blinking and the strobes were not on.
Plaintiff driver and witness further testified that the FP&L truck only had
on its running lights (otherwise known as tail lights).
It was undisputed that there were no warning devices on the roadway.
FP&L contended that FP&L did not need to put out warning devices on the
roadway unless they were at the scene for more than one (1) hour.
Plaintiff brought forth a two (2) count complaint against FP&L
Count one (1) alleged general negligence and count (2) two alleged negligent
training. It was Plaintiff’s contention that FP&L choose not train its
drivers on the applicable state and federal law. FP&L claimed they complied
with the law and this “accident” was caused by Plaintiff bad vision and
inability to react in a timely manner. After a 5 day jury trial, the jury
found FP&L to be 100% at fault for causing the accident and awarded Betty
Botta $1,000,000.00 in pain and suffering damages and her husband, Charles
Botta, $350,000.00 in consortium damages. Judgment was entered on December
Post Trial Motions: Defendants have filed a motion for new trial and/or
Remittur. Plaintiff has a pending motion to tax costs set for hearing
Comments: Justice was served. Sagi Shaked hopes that FP&L will follow
Federal and Florida law so nobody ever gets injured again because of FP&L’s
Pre-Trail Offer by the Defendant was zero.
Citation: Betty Botta and Charles Botta vs. Florida Power & Light Company,
(Palm Beach County, Florida:)
Verdict date: December 16, 2013
Trial Began on: December 10, 2013
Plaintiff’s counsel: Sagi Shaked (Lead counsel) and Joel Roth of the Shaked
Law Firm, P.A.
Defense counsel: Eric Hoecker and David Austin of Juno Beach, Florida.
Sagi Shaked, Esq.