A Study in the Loss of a Child
I, and the other attorneys in my firm, represent people who experience tragedies in their lives. Sometimes clients do receive justice.
Sometimes the defendants make honest mistakes, other times their neglect is particularly egregious.
The case I recently tried, with Greg Barnhart and Matt Schwencke in my firm, was flagrant because the nature of the negligence was so preventable. The case was particularly tragic because of the emotional devastation suffered by the parents of a child struck down before his life even began.
How many times have you tried to pull out of a parking lot into traffic, only to have your vision of the roadway partially or totally blocked by a bush, a sign or some other obstruction? How many times as you pull across the sidewalk do you think to yourself, “Why the property owner couldn’t cut their bushes?”
My last case involved a death trap designed by the people who were supposed to make sure the trap did not exist: the land owner and their property management company.
The trap resulted in the death of 9 year old Andrew Curtis, struck and killed by a motorist who could not see him on his bike while exiting at Jupiter’s Villas on the Green Condominium complex. The trap resulted in the emotional destruction of the lives of Andrew’s parents, Tracy Curtis and Andre Kovacs.
This tragic crash occurred one afternoon while Andrew and his father Andre were riding their bikes and approaching the drive way to the condominium complex. Andre and Andrew could not see the car coming out of the exit way and the driver could not see them as a result of the unmaintained bushes and poor placement of a stop sign. The driver pulled through the exit and ran right over the top of Andrew’s head.
I am not a mother and when I handle cases involving the death of children, I always try to gain a firm appreciation for parents suffering the sudden and unexpected death of their children. The emotional loss for parents who is devastating especially when the death is sudden, unexpected and preventable.
They will never see Andrew his first homerun, surf his first tough wave or see the joy of his first soccer goal. They will not see their child go to the prom, attend college, fall in love for the first time, get married or have grandchildren run through their home.
No amount of money will ever make it better. In our society, though, the rendering of a full verdict is the only way a parent who has suffered losing their beloved son can legally obtain some amount of justice, some amount of closure.
We were in trial on the case for several weeks. We made multiple efforts to reasonably resolve the case with the defendants in an effort to keep our clients from having to relive losing their son over again, the defendants were not interested.
After requiring my clients to relive losing their son and the circumstances of that loss, the jury found that the condominium’s property management company 60% at fault and the condominium association 30% at fault and awarded a $12 million verdict. Sadly, the defendants even tried to place blame on Andrew’s father Andre, claiming that he should have been able to keep Andrew from being struck by the car.
Clearly our trial team had illustrated my clients’ devastation to the jury in a way they would ask to give my clients what they really needed: someone who said they understood and were sorry for their loss.
After the verdict was read, the foreperson said, “Judge, we just have one request, can we hug the parents?” It was the most moving moment in my 18 year professional career.