A Miami-Dade jury ruled that the Archdiocese of Miami was liable for $14 million in damages for the car wreck that left a high schooler dead and another paralyzed and brain damaged. The wreck occurred after a year-end party at the home of two students in 2001. Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School was found to be at fault for the accident. The Archdiocese of Miami, which owns the school, will appeal the decision.
The jury decided Archbishop Carroll was negligent because it did not notify authorities, even though school officials knew in advance of the underage drinking party. The wild party was held at a private home in 2001 on the last day of school. The student organizers of the drinking bash circulated invitations with a picture of Crown Royal whiskey and a call to “come end the school year the right away.” Administrators found out about the party and the school principal even made some dumb remarks about the event over the public address system. However, the school officials never collected the invitations and failed to contact the police or any of the parents. This left the school partially responsible for the party’s aftermath. The jury heard testimony that the principal even stopped by the party, witnessed students falling down drunk, but did not call authorities.
The wreck occurred after the two students left the party. Their vehicle, traveling at about 80 mph, slammed into a tree. The impact was so violent, it split the car in half. Toxicology tests showed the passenger had a blood alcohol level of .22. The driver, who was ejected from the vehicle, had a blood alcohol level hours later of .096. The legal limit for operating a vehicle in Florida is .08. The total jury award was nearly $56 million, although much of that may never be collected. In addition to the Archdiocese, the jury found a host of parties, including the student and his parents, at whose home the party was hosted, to be negligent. The jury ruled that the parents were 20% negligent. This was a very sad case and the conduct of the school officials was inexcusable.
Source: Miami Herald
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