Jury Orders Waverunner Driver To Pay $3.3 Million for Running Over Snorkeler

Jan 20, 2010, 16:01 ET from Kelley Uustal PLC

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Don Beebe, former NFL star and wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, testified before the jury about how his brother-in-law, Dave Walker, has been affected by injuries from a 2007 incident where Walker was struck by a waverunner while snorkeling in the Bahamas. Beebe explained Dave's biggest passion was coaching his son's school football team. "He wasn't one of those coaches that stood over there with a whistle. I mean, he was a hands-on guy. He was going to be out there demonstrating how to do it. Well, now he is one of the guys with the whistle. It's very frustrating for him."

(Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100120/FL40996)

Mr. Walker was represented at trial by attorneys Todd McPharlin and Todd Falzone, partners in the Kelley/Uustal Law Firm, along with Attorney Eric Rosen. "This case was all about responsibility," Falzone said. "Despite being in clear violation of the law, the driver of the jetski refused to take any responsibility at all for the terrible injuries he caused. Thankfully, the Jury served justice and held the driver accountable."

Dave Walker, an Illinois drywall contractor, was snorkeling in 6 feet of water in Paradise Island in the Bahamas just off the beach at the Atlantis hotel when he was struck by Eric Elliot of Miami Beach, Florida. The jury found Elliot to be 100% at fault for causing the collision. Mr. Walker's then 14 year old son, who had been snorkeling at his father's side only moments before, watched in horror as the Waverunner ran his dad over at 25 miles per hour. The impact was so severe that it fractured 2 vertebrae in Dave's upper back, and herniated a disc in his neck, which required a fusion surgery.

Dave's injuries have left him unable to work as a drywall contractor. The business he spent nearly 30 years building with his own two hands is now falling apart. Mr. Walker's attorney, Todd McPharlin, went on to explain, "Dave and his company had become a big part of the community. He was a hands-on dry wall hanger who had a reputation for being honest, hardworking and meticulous. He was a perfectionist who loved and was proud of his work and hoped one day to pass his business on to his sons. Now all of that is gone. He can never do that type of physical work again."

At trial the defense tried to argue that the accident was everyone's fault, except the driver of the waverunner. They asked the jury to blame Mr. Walker, his 11 and 14 year old sons, Mrs. Walker, and the Atlantis resort for negligently causing this accident to occur. Yet despite compelling evidence to the contrary, the only person the defense argued was not at fault was the driver who ran Dave over.

The jury awarded $3,378,729.34 in total damages: $845,000.00 in lost earning capacity, $388,729.34 in past and future medical expenses and $2,145,000.00 in pain and suffering.

About Kelley / Uustal

Robert W. Kelley and John J. Uustal formed their team of seasoned trial attorneys with more than 50 years of combined courtroom experience and more than 100 jury trials. The firm focuses its practice on securing compensation for clients who have been left physically and/or financially devastated by a catastrophic injury or event. The attorneys have been instrumental in securing more than $800 million in jury awards and settlements for clients. For more information, visit www.justiceforall.com.


Roland Ochoa, Kelley Uustal PLC



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