Estate Alleges Reckless
Driving Killed Mother
By Patricia L. Harman
Verdict: Plaintiffs, $5,093,000
Venue: Collier County, Florida
Plaintiffs: Jeanne Lesniak (61), Robert
Lesniak (58), and the estate of Theresa
Lesniak (91, deceased)
Defendant: Peter Ferreira
Insurer: Government Employees
Insurance Co. ($25,000 policy limit)
Theresa Lesniak was driving her car in a residential area on Mar- co Island in Florida, on Novem- ber 30, 2013, when a Nissan
Maxima driven by Peter Ferreira slammed
into her driver’s side door. Lesniak was
killed instantly. Allegedly, the black box in
Ferreira’s car showed that he was driving
77 mph at the time of the impact, despite
the fact that he was in a 30 mph zone.
Lesniak’s two children, Jeanne and Rob-
ert, filed suit to recover damages for funeral
expenses, their pain and suffering for los-
ing their mother, as well as punitive dam-
ages from Ferreira. Their counsel alleged
that Ferreira, who had allegedly consumed
three beers and four shots of liquor in the
four hours before the crash, was negligent
and had recklessly sped through a stop
sign before broadsiding Lesniak’s car.
Ferreira declined to take a breathalyzer
test to determine if he was driving while
impaired, and was charged with vehicular
manslaughter. He was tried and convicted
of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years
in prison. Since he had conceded liability
prior to the trial, the purpose of the trial
was to determine damages for the estate.
While the estate counsel argued that
Lesniak’s children should be awarded $8
million in compensatory and punitive
damages, defense counsel argued that
they should only receive $100,000 each
and no punitive damages.
After two hours of deliberations, the
jury awarded compensatory damages of
$2.5 million each to Lesniak’s children for
their pain and suffering; $18,000 for the
estate’s funeral expenses, as well as punitive damages of $75,000.
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Rytechindd 1 21/07/16 11:33PM