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Court orders drugged driver to pay more compensation for loss

A Louisiana man who is currently finishing his time in prison for his role in a fatal car accident in which he struck three pedestrians, a mom and her two children, recently received both a rebuke and further consequences for his behavior from the Louisiana Court of Appeals. Following the fatal accident, authorities determined that the man had marijuana and oxycodone in his system. At the time he veered off the road and hit the family, he was speeding at 91 miles per hour.

In addition to criminal charges, the family sued the young man for the wrongful death of their loved ones. While the young man may have gotten a break from the judge sentencing him in his criminal case, as he faced 30 years in prison on each count but only had to serve five years total, the civil jury hearing the wrongful death case was not so sympathetic. They awarded the family $2.8 million in damages and an additional $100,000 in punitive damages.

This marked an unusually high award for the state of Louisiana. When the young man appealed the decision, the family thought that the Court of Appeals would reduce the amount of the award. To the contrary, the Court of Appeals was not terribly impressed with the young man's behavior. The court noted that the young man had been convicted of intoxicated driving before, did not seem sorry and had gotten into further trouble for drug use while in prison.

At the end of the day, the Court of Appeals rejected the man's pleas for some leniency and instead increased the amount of punitive damages that the man must pay to $500,000. The man now owes over $3 million to the family. Because these types of debts are thankfully not dischargeable in bankruptcy as a rule, he will in all likelihood be paying this debt to the family for the rest of his life.

Source: The Town Talk, "Lafayette driver who killed Alexandria mom and two daughters faces higher penalty," Jeff Matthews, March 16, 2013

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