Florida State Jury Awards $ 12.2 Million To Sons Of Woman Killed In Head-On Collision After Judge Finds Driver Acting In Scope Of Employment
On Sunday Nov. 9, 2014, defendant Joshua Bell was driving his pick-up truck to Acadia, FL, traveling to a business trip for his employer, defendant Gibbs & Register, Inc. (G&R). Roitiki Tyler was traveling southbound on US-17 with her 11-year-old minor son M.T.W. Bell was heading northbound on US-17, but began to pass cars in the southbound lane, against traffic, and struck Tyler's vehicle head-on. Ms. Tyler died in the collision, survived by her minor son and an adult son, plaintiff Devontrea Tyler.
On Dec. 29, 2014, plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against Bell and G&R, in the Circuit Court of Orange County, FL, claiming that Bell was acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the crash as evidenced in part by the fact that G&R paid Bell worker's compensation benefits for the injuries he sustained in the crash. Plaintiffs also claimed that G&R was paying for Bell's hotel room that Sunday evening, although G&R argued that Bell would not have officially reported to work until Monday morning. Bell admitted liability for the collision.
Plaintiffs and G&R filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether Bell was acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the collision. On May 31, 2016, Judge Janet C. Thorpe granted plaintiffs' motion, and the action proceeded to trial on the issue of damages. On May 4, 2017, the jury returned a verdict awarding $ 12,240,000 to plaintiffs, including $ 3,500,000 to Devontrea Tyler for the loss of his mother; $ 4,200,000 to M.T.W. for the loss of his mother, and $ 4,540,000 to M.T.W. on his negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.
Plaintiffs were represented by Sagi Shaked and Joel L. Roth of Shaked Law Firm. G&R was represented by Daniel Shapiro and Elizabeth Tosh of Cole, Scott & Kissane. Bell was represented by Charles McKeon
of Law Office of Charles McKeon.
Lexis Advance subscribers may view the complete summary here: Devontrea Tyler, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Roitiki Tamera Tyler, Deceased, and Mickel Williams, Sr., as Father and Guardian of his Minor Son M.T.W., v. Gibbs & Register, Inc., and Joshua Loren Bell; 2017 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 1535.
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