Imagine a 49 year old husband and father riding a scooter on South Federal Highway. This man is well respected and earns a significant salary with which to support his wife and son. One moment he is traveling along and the next he has been hit and killed by a drunk driver. This is exactly the scenario that brought Suzanne Blaikie and Joey, her 18 year old son to the courtroom where they were awarded a staggering $844,566,000.
The defendant in this case was a Chris Morena-Vega was the drunk driver operating the car. Also a defendant in the case was the auto dealer, Auto America, who negligently entrusted the vehicle that Chris Morena-Vega hit Timothy Blaikie with. The damages sought by the attorneys for the plaintiff would at best compensate for the financial support they would have received from the salary brought in by Timothy during the remainder of his natural lifetime.
Shockingly enough, neither Morena-Vega nor Auto America answered to the lawsuit. Even thought there was no acknowledgement of the lawsuit by either defendant, a jury trial was required to determine the amount of a financial award to be given to the family. It was apparent after researching both defendants that neither had assets that would secure a comfortable future for the surviving Blaikie family. Any award most likely would not be paid. The plaintiff’s attorneys did not let that stop them in proceeding with the case.
Suzanne Blaikie was powerful in her grief filled testimony. She described her devastation and deep depression caused by the loss of her husband. She even read a letter from her son, Joey, who a few days earlier had left for Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps. Joey’s dad was his hero and his letter poignantly expressed that.
The jury only deliberated about 25 minutes before returning with the stunning amount of the award for the Blaikie family, $844,566,000. The jury had validated the family’s grief and also sent a message to Morena-Vega and Auto America. The jury sent a message that Timothy Blaikie’s life mattered. He was a wonderful husband and father. The message sent to the defendants was a scolding that they added to their wrongdoing with an act of cowardice by not even acknowledging the lawsuit.
Sometimes a large monetary award isn’t all about cashing in on the loss of a loved one, sometimes it is a sign that justice was served.