Victim Wins $16M for Leg Severed by Speeding Police Car
A jury has ordered the state of Connecticut to pay $16 million to a man who lost his leg and suffered brain damage after he was hit by a police car, even though the man’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he tried to cross the highway by foot.
Melvin Gordils, a 48-year-old restaurant owner, ran out of gas on the highway one night in May 2010 when he got out of his car and tried to cross Route 25 near Bridgeport, Conn. State trooper Darren Pavlik’s cruiser sped down the highway without its lights or sirens and hit Gordils, crushing his pelvis, severing his right leg and causing brain injuries.
At trial, the trooper testified he was trying to catch a dark-colored speeding car, even though he never called in about a car chase to the barracks.
Gordils’s attorneys, Michael Stratton and Joel Faxon, argued that the cruiser was going over 100 mph when it hit Gordils.
The attorney representing the state, James Coyne, said there was no evidence that the trooper was driving that fast. He also argued that Gordils was to blame for the accident because he was drunk and walking across the highway. His blood alcohol level was 0.24.
The jury awarded Gordils, who is confined to a wheelchair, $16 million but found him 35 percent at fault for the accident and the state 65 percent to blame.
Faxon had argued at trial that after the accident the trooper interrogated Gordils instead of calling for medical help. After the verdict he said it was the largest verdict against the state.
“It was the worst case of a selfish uncaring defendant that I’ve ever seen in my career,” Faxon said. “You would be more compassionate to an animal that you just hit than this police officer was to Melvin Gordils.”