A Miami-based state court issued a $50,000,000.00 ruling in favor of parents whose son Devin, aged 12, was thrown out of a golf cart following a collision with a car. This led to a severe head injury. Attorney Paul Jon Layne, a partner at Silva & Silva in Coral Gables, served as one of the lawyers for the parents. Their child was in the golf cart driven by the defendant’s niece. “You have to be persistent and not give up,” Layne remarked. “Because we have stuck to the case, we’ve been able to complete our service to the client at the state court level, and through our persistence, we continue to fight through that state court case.”
The case dealt with who’s responsible when something dangerous is misused and how blame is shared. Judge Carlos Lopez from Miami-Dade made a decision that requires the defendant to pay $50 million. Here’s how it’s split: the injured child gets over $46.1 million for his past and future losses and pain, while each of his parents gets $2 million because of the harm caused to their son.
In 2016, the defendant, Luis Chiong, owned a golf cart and let his 16-year-old niece drive it with Devin on board. She didn’t stop at a stop sign, and a car hit the golf cart. After the accident, Devin was in Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for two months. He still needs constant care, as shown by court documents.
In the court’s decision about Chiong, Judge Lopez said that if you let someone else use something dangerous you own, like a car, and they hurt someone because they were careless, you can be blamed too. The highest court in Florida has said that a golf cart is like a car in this situation. The court decided that Chiong let his niece use the golf cart and she was entirely at fault for the accident. This makes Chiong responsible for the damages. Judge Lopez didn’t accept the defense’s argument that Devin’s parents knowingly took a risk by letting their son ride the golf cart. There was no agreement saying they wouldn’t sue, and there wasn’t any solid proof to say they impliedly accepted the risk. Judge Lopez also mentioned in a detailed 13-page decision that you can’t say someone willingly took a risk if they couldn’t see it coming or if it was caused by someone else’s carelessness.
In addition, there’s another court action trying to get $18 million from the niece’s parents. This is still waiting to be decided in the Southern District of Florida. A higher court disagreed with a lower court about insurance covering the damages, but the insurance company says they didn’t act wrongly. Paul Jon Layne from Silva and Silva commented, “We’re hoping [the $50 million award] will persuade somehow to get the other case done . . . . This is something the family really needs.”
Established in 1992 by brothers Carlos and Jorge Silva, Silva & Silva, P.A. has represented victims of wrongful and tortious conduct, concentrating exclusively on complex litigation. The firm focuses on representing clients in construction wrongful death cases such as the FIU Pedestrian Bridge Collapse and the Champlain Towers South collapse, products liability, medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, and negligent security cases. Over the years, the attorneys at Silva & Silva have built a reputation for compassionate, determined, and fearless advocacy.