Attorney Todd Falzone of Kelley/Uustal has successfully secured a settlement of $1 million for the surviving family of a postal worker who was killed in an accident in Osceola County in 2007. The accident occurred as a result of a mix-up with the placement of highway signs which would have prevented the death if they had been present. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2009 by the victim’s widow.
Together with their attorneys, the family of Jhurel P. Villanueva argued for six years that Reynolds, Smith, and Hills Inc., an engineering and architectural firm based in Jacksonville, Florida, should be held responsible for the mistake that cost Jhurel his life. This mistake, which reaches back to 1999, stems from a contract with the county to expand Hickory Tree Road in St. Cloud, which included a new left turn lane, a reduced speed limit, and the placement of warning signs at the intersection of Hickory Tree and North Bullis roads. The mistake occurred when an engineer accidentally placed the warning signs several hundred feet away at the wrong intersection.
“Nobody ever knew the difference,” reported Attorney Falzone, who represented the victim’s family.
As Villanuava drove down this road years later and prepared to make a left turn onto North Bullis Road, another vehicle attempted to pass him on the left. The two trucks collided, ejecting and killing Villanueva. Falzone argued that if a no-passing sign had been placed at the intersection, the accident would never have happened.
A judgment was reached in favor of Reynolds Smith in 2013 after it was determined that the county had reopened the plans and made changes unrelated to the Bullis road signs mistake. Attorney Falzone knew this was not the law, and the Fifth District Court of Appeals agreed to retry the case.
Falzone was surprised that his settlement offer of $1 million was accepted. He originally chose that number because opposing counsel told him that the defendant would not accept it. “Please don’t accept that. I’d prefer to go to court and get a bigger verdict and make you pay my fees,” he said. “I guess maybe I should use that as a strategy in the future.”
For more information about the case Read the Daily Business Review ( October 5 and October 6) and the Florida Times-Union.
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The Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys at Kelley/Uustal have over 200 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of families who have lost loved ones in preventable accidents. This most recent settlement adds to the hundreds of millions of dollars we have won on behalf of clients.
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