Angela Stone’s daughter, Shelby Taylor Hagman, was killed in a drunk driving accident in Hernando County, Florida in 2007. She was riding in a minivan with her grandparents, Larry and Deborah Wynn of Brooksville, Florida, when Christopher Marcone ran a stop sign and crashed into their car. Marcone pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and three related charges and is currently serving 13-years in prison.
Angela Stone then filed a civil lawsuit against Marcone for the death of her daughter. She has said that she does not have any hope of collecting a settlement from Marcone, but she is not doing it for the money; the lawsuit is an effort to send a message to would-be drunk and reckless drivers.
A jury of six women awarded Stone the one of the largest verdicts in Hernando County history, and possibly in the state of Florida – $55 Million in compensatory damages and $275 Million in punitive damages. Stone is also suing Kia Motors Corp. and a local auto dealer who sold her grandparents the minivan they were driving on the night of the accident. She claims that a defective seat belt in the Kia minivan also contributed to Shelby’s death.
In Florida, there is no cap on punitive damages in cases involving intoxicated defendants. As this case shows, drunk drivers who kill or harm others face not only legal but financial repercussions. While punitive damages, especially won from an incarcerated person of little means, are rarely paid to plaintiffs, they do make for great headlines. And those headlines can send a strong message to drivers everywhere.
Find out more about this story at Hernando jury awards mother $330 million in drunken-driving death of teen. </a