Kelley | Uustal have successfully obtained a $53.7 million jury verdict on behalf of a Coral Springs widow and her two children following a high-speed vehicle crash nearly four years ago that took the life of her husband and their father. The verdict was secured by recently named partner Fan Li and longtime partner Todd Falzone.
The case involved the tragic death of Brian Raik, who was driving his 2017 Toyota on West Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach in September 2019 when his vehicle was struck head-on by a pickup truck driven by Elie Charles of Boca Raton. According to witnesses, Charles was recklessly driving at 73 miles per hour, which was 28 miles per hour over the speed limit, and weaving in and out of traffic before losing control of his truck and crossing the median into the westbound lanes, resulting in the violent collision with Raik’s vehicle. Raik suffered severe internal injuries and passed away at the hospital shortly after arriving, leaving behind his wife Nancy and their two adult children just one day before their 31st wedding anniversary.
During the trial, the Jury was presented with evidence that Charles had been drinking and smoking marijuana earlier on the day of the incident. After the crash, Charles was taken to the hospital but left “against medical advice” in an apparent attempt to evade testing to determine his impairment level. Broward County prosecutors have since charged Charles with vehicular homicide, and he is currently awaiting trial.
The Jury’s verdict, which awarded $17.9 million apiece to Raik’s widow and each of their two children, was a reflection of the devastating loss suffered by the Raik family and the impact it has had on their lives. The attorneys from Kelley | Uustal emphasized that no amount of money can ever bring Brian back, but they hope that the verdict brings some closure to the family and sends a powerful message to the community about the dangers of reckless driving.
“We are thankful that the jury recognized the true magnitude of loss and returned the exact damage award for each of the survivors I asked for in my closing argument,” said Fan Li. “While no verdict, no matter how large, can ever bring Brian back, I think the Jury truly felt the loss the Raik family has experienced and honored it with this verdict. Hopefully, this process has brought the family some closure and sent a message to others in the community that they should never drive like Mr. Charles drove that day,” added Li.
Todd Falzone, who has been a longtime partner at Kelley | Uustal, expressed his sympathy for the Raik family and highlighted the impact of the tragedy on their lives. “The Jury got to meet and know the Raik family at trial, and it was abundantly clear that this tragic incident has been utterly devastating to Brian’s widow and his two children. Brian was a wonderful man, a loving husband, and an amazing father,” said Falzone.
The wrongful death lawsuit named both Charles and his employer, Charlie Lawn Services Inc., a Boca Raton landscaping company, as defendants. The significant jury verdict obtained by Kelley | Uustal serves as a reminder of the firm’s commitment to seeking justice for their clients and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions.