A Colorado man was awarded $18.5 million for catastrophic injuries he suffered when a driver, drunk on alcohol and high on marijuana, left a mountain road and slammed into him as he was changing the oil on his wife’s car in their own driveway. District Court Judge Russell Granger, in a bench trial, assessed the award against Kevin Ruszkowski, the 24-year-old driver; Randall Guy, the owner of the Jeep; and Guy’s son, Justin Guy, 20, who had allowed Ruszkowski to drive the vehicle. Paul Savage, 46, who was injured, was head waiter at the Alpenglow Stube at Keystone at the time. Ruszkowski had no license because his driving privileges had either been suspended or revoked for prior driving misconduct.
Judge Granger said he was awarding $1 million in punitive damages against Ruszkowski both for “driving the Jeep while drinking and smoking marijuana and for fleeing the scene of a collision amid the screams of his victims.” The judge also awarded $1 million against Justin Guy, who was a passenger in the jeep, who had permitted Ruszkowski to drive his Jeep despite knowing that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana all day. Judge Granger noted that Savage is now in a wheelchair and will never walk again except “more than a few heavily assisted steps at a time” and is a “functional paraplegic.” Savage has had more than $4.3 million in medical bills and is expected to have another $4.9 million the rest of his life.
On the day of the accident, the judge said Ruszkowski and Justin Guy, both Denver residents, had taken Guy’s Jeep to the mountains and were driving on Virginia Canyon Road near Idaho Springs. Ruszkowski was so drunk and high on marijuana that he ran off the road once and was warned by a passerby that they shouldn’t be on the road driving drunk. After pulling out of the ditch, according to the judge’s order, Ruszkowski, while speeding, lost control of the vehicle and slammed into Mr. Savage, crushing him. The Jeep, which became airborne, then crashed into the Savage’s house. Both Ruszkowski and Guy fled the scene, but were apprehended a short time later. This case is a classic example of the tragic results that accompany drinking and driving. The judge in this case is to be commended for his order. Jim Chalat, a lawyer from Denver, Colorado, represented the Plaintiff and did a very good job.
Source: Denver Post
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