A case the city attorney’s office initially tried to settle for $25 ended with a jury award of $650,000 for a man injured in a car accident with a St. Petersburg police officer. The St. Pete Times tells us why a police office driving at 2 a.m. without headlights on Central Avenue is a definite no-no.
ST. PETERSBURG – Delon Walton, 28, and his friend, Ricardo Robinson, 29, were leaving the Something Different nightclub on Central Avenue about 2 a.m. May 11, 2003, when the accident occurred.
Robinson, driving west on Central, tried to turn left onto 25th Street and struck Officer Jason Levy’s patrol car. Robinson admitted drinking alcohol at the club, DeBerg said. Marijuana was found in the car.
But two witnesses said Levy was driving without headlights, and Walton and Robinson later backed them up.
Levy denied driving without headlights, said City Attorney John Wolfe. Another officer said he saw Levy driving with his headlights on before the crash, he said.
Walton suffered injuries in the crash, including fluid in his left knee and a bulging disk in his back. His medical bills totaled about $8,000.
Jurors found Levy and the city were 67 percent at fault for the accident, Robinson, 33 percent. They awarded Walton $8,000 for medical bills; $115,000 for future medical bills; $30,000 for pain and suffering; and $500,000 for future pain and suffering.
The city’s share of the award is approximately $430,000. However, under Florida law, the amount a government agency must pay in a court case is capped at $100,000.