Christopher Cepeda, 14, attempted to cross a four-lane highway with five other boys. After crossing the median, he stepped into the next lane and was struck by a car driven by Denise Sottilaro. Cepeda suffered a traumatic brain injury and died shortly after the accident. He is survived by his mother.
Cepeda’s mother sued Sottilaro and her husband, who owned the vehicle, alleging that Sottilaro had been driving inattentively and failed to avoid the collision. The defense argued that Cepeda had been texting at the time of the accident, which the plaintiff disputed.
The jury awarded about $1.38 million, finding Cepeda 30 percent at fault. The defendants have appealed.
Citation: Figueroa v. Sottilaro, No. 52-2009-CA-008196 (Fla., Polk Co. Super. Jan. 13, 2011).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member John W. Frost, Bartow, Florida.
Plaintiff experts: Bruce Wiggins, accident reconstruction, Trenton, Florida; and Robert S. Kennedy, human factors, Orlando, Florida.
Defense expert: James L. Parrish, accident reconstruction, Gainesville, Florida.