Ratzan Law Group with assistance from Lincoln Connolly recently won a substantial jury verdict on behalf of the family of a man killed by a negligent driver acting on behalf of a construction company in Florida. Stuart N. Ratzan, lead trial counsel and shareholder of Ratzan Law Group convinced a jury that Ranger Construction Industries, Inc., was responsible for a preventable crash on I-75 that also violated the terms of its contract with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which require Ranger to provide construction vehicles a safe means of exiting median construction sites.

Based on the circumstances, including the provisions of its contract, the plaintiff argued that the only safe way off of the I-75 median construction site that night was with a lane closure, proper supervision, lighting, and the assistance of Florida Highway Patrol. Instead, Ranger Construction and its supervisor allegedly chose to leave truck driver, Juan C. Calero, unsupervised in an area he had never been to before, in complete darkness. Ranger loaded up the flatbed tractor trailer with a full load of concrete barrier wall and instructed truck driver Calero to drive approximately one mile south, to the Miramar Parkway Bridge, for unloading.

According to the plaintiff, Mr. Calero improperly and recklessly exited the median construction work zone, attempting a dangerous U-turn. Raymond Astaphan’s Mitsubishi struck the tractor trailer shearing off his roof and killing him on impact.  He had no time to react or avoid the tractor trailer.  Raymond was a 29 year old medical student from the island of Dominica.  His passenger, Patrissia Rolle, suffered significant injuries. Also killed in the wreck was a 17-year-old driver of another vehicle.

The jury found Ranger violated its contract with the FDOT and also negligent in causing Astaphan’s death.

The verdict came after a four week trial in Broward County, Florida where the Plaintiff argued that the Defendants Ranger Construction Industries, Inc. and Juan C. Calero negligently and recklessly caused the death of Raymond Astaphan.   Mr. Calero was employed by defendant Double B Lines, Inc.

The jury found the Defendants responsible and entered a $20 million verdict for compensatory damages.  The jury also found punitive damages were warranted to punish the Defendants and entered a punitive damage award of $25 million against Ranger Construction Industries, Inc. and $5,000 against the truck driver Juan Calero.  The jury also found that Mr. Calero was Ranger Construction Industries, Inc.’s agent and that Ranger Construction Industries, Inc. was engaged in inherently dangerous activity.  The jury apportioned fault equally between the two defendants.   The entire verdict was for $45,005,000.

Ratzan Law Group was recently featured by Leaders In The Law in the 2017 edition of South Florida’s Leading Lawyers. The plaintiff was represented by Stuart N. Ratzan, Stuart J. Weissman, and Evan Gilead of Ratzan Law Group, P.A., Miami, Florida. Ratzan Law Group was assisted by Lincoln Connolly of Lincoln J. Connolly Trials & Appeals, P.A.