Florida Power & Light has to pay a mother nearly $24 million after a jury found the utility company liable for the electrocution death of her son.
Justin Dominguez, 15, died two weeks after he climbed a bamboo stalk that hit 13,000-volt power lines near his Fort Myers home in 2011. Attorneys for the boy’s mother successfully argued that FPL knew the bamboo stalk posed a risk to residents and had even put in a work order to remove the bamboo three years before Justin’s death, and that the plants still remained in the neighborhood until earlier this year, Daily Business Review reported.
“They blamed a boy for climbing a tree instead of apologizing and trying to stop it from happening again,” attorney Ty Roland of Fort Myers said in a statement obtained by the Daily Business Review.
After a weeklong trial, the Lee Circuit Court jury awarded Justin’s mother, Tricia Dominguez, $12.5 million for her pain and suffering on Dec. 20. Her son was assigned 30 percent of the fault, so compensatory damages were reduced to $8.75 million. The jury added $15 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $23.75 million.
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In a statement released to the Palm Beach Post, FPL said: “We extend our thoughts and prayers to the Dominguez family during this difficult time. We disagree with the jury’s decision and are evaluating further legal options.”
FPL was represented by Mitchell Lundeen and Anaeli Petesco of the Chartwell Law Offices in Miami.
West Palm Beach attorney Julie Littky-Rubin assisted Fort Myers attorneys Roland and Evan Lubell to represent the boy’s mother, who has since moved to Iowa with her two other children.