Under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Florida Statute 316.193.
Living and working in Fort Lauderdale as a handyman, 22-year-old Dwight Grant’s life was changed forever when he became a DUI victim. Mr. Grant was sitting in the back seat of his friend’s car, stopped on the road, waiting for a raised drawbridge. A couple of blocks behind him, Matthew Lyons was driving his car uncontrollably and at a very high rate of speed. When Mr. Lyons made a left turn and faced the stopped traffic, it was too late for him to avoid the horrific rear-end car accident that ensued. The investigation revealed that Mr. Lyons was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, with a blood alcohol level of .21, almost triple the legal limit.
As a result of this rear-end car accident, Dwight Grant sustained skull fractures, frontal lobe brain damage and facial fractures. He had corrective surgery to repair the fractures and was discharged after two weeks in intensive care. Following his release from the hospital, Mr. Grant developed a seizure disorder that is not controlled by medication. He is unable to resume work due to his uncontrolled seizures.
DUI Victim Attorney, Thomas Scolaro, of Leesfield Scolaro filed a civil lawsuit against Matthew Lyons for his negligent driving. The defendant alleged that although he was intoxicated, Mr. Grant’s seizures could have been better controlled in the future had he been more compliant with taking his anti-seizure medications and had he been more compliant returning for follow-up medical appointments. What the defendant failed to realize was that Mr. Grant did not always take his medication because his frontal lobe brain damage caused him to be very forgetful. Experts at trial testified that the degree of brain damage and the location of the damage in the frontal lobe controlled his decision making processes and affected his short-term memory.
After a five-day trial, the jury panel of 3 men, and 3 women jury panel found that the defendant was negligent. The jury found that Mr. Grant was unable to return to work in any capacity and awarded Mr. Grant $2.7 million for past and future lost wages, $6.7 million for past and future medical care, and $6 million for past and future pain and suffering.
The case, entitled Dwight Grant v. Matthew Lyons, Lower Tribunal Case No, 07-015561 (03) was tried before Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell in Broward County, Florida.