$475,000 In Tragic Vehicular Manslaughter Case

On the evening of October 10, 1998, Laura McKenna, a beautiful 31-year-old single woman, was a passenger in a car driven by her best friend, Amy. They were heading home on the 408/East-West Expressway from the christening of a friend's baby and Amy's 10 year-old son was in the back of the car. Jason Giguere, a 19-year- old young man with a long history of personal problems , was driving his pickup truck without a valid drivers license, was legally drunk and high on marijuana, and was fleeing the scene of an accident he had

been involved in at the S.R. 436 toll booth. Jason lost control of his truck, crossed over the 40 foot grassy median separating the Expressway's lanes, and slammed head on into the car in which Laura was a passenger. Laura did not die immediately, but lingered on and died three hours later from multiple blunt traumas to her head and chest.

Jason carried only $10,000 in insurance, had no assets, and was serving a 12 and a half year sentence for DUI manslaughter when we got Laura's case from an attorney referral. We agreed to take the case, but cautioned Laura's father that the family's chances of recovering anything beyond Jason's $10,000 in coverage appeared bleak. Our investigation, however, revealed that Jason's truck was co-owned by Jason's father, Robert Giguere, allowing us to sue both Jason and Robert under Florida's danger- ous instrumentality doctrine. Robert, though, claimed he carried no insurance on the vehicle and also claimed his bank had made a mistake and should have transferred title to the truck solely to Jason once he turned 18. The bank's documents seemed to con- firm Robert's argument, but we had no standing to sue the bank. Robert's attorney also claimed in discovery that Jason alone had bought, paid for, and insured the truck.

Still, we refused to give up on the case. Eventually, we were able to develop a bad faith claim against Laura's insurer for their fail- ure to provide her with uninsured motorist coverage. We also later discovered that Jason's father carried a commercial auto- mobile policy and made a claim against that policy. We event- ually won a motion for summary judgment against Robert's insurer finding coverage under the policy, and obtained a separate favorable bad faith settlement from Laura's insurer, allowing the McKenna's to recover $475,000 for their daughter's tragic death. While no amount of money can ever compensate the McKenna's, they can now bring some closure in their lives from the event and the money they received will help Laura's sisters raise their families.

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