On January 16, 2011, Andrew Curtis, a nine-year-old boy, and his father were riding their bicycles on U.S. Highway 1 in the town of Jupiter, Florida. Andrew was following his father as the two approached the driveway of the Villas on the Green Condominiums. While Andrew’s father passed the driveway without incident, as Andrew began to cross, he was struck by a minivan. Andrew was airlifted from the scene of the accident to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where doctors were unable to save his life. Andrew’s mother, filed a wrongful death claim against driver of the minivan, as well as property owner, Villas on the Green Condominium Association, Inc., and property management company, M.M.I. of the Palm Beaches Inc. First, Plaintiff claimed that the driver failed to yield the right of way.
In addition, Plaintiff claimed that both the property owner and property management company failed to comply with state and local regulations concerning the height and location of stop signs and hedges, which contributed to the fatal accident. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that the hedges at the entrance to Villas on the Green were four feet eight inches high, nearly double the maximum allowable height. Also, the stop sign governing the intersection of the driveway with Highway 1 was four feet too short and too far back from the sidewalk pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation’s regulations. The minivan driver claimed that she stopped at the stop sign but did not see either of the riders because of the height of the hedges and the improper placement of the stop sign.
The property owner and management company claimed that the collision occurred solely because of driver’s negligence for failing to check for pedestrians or cyclists before proceeding forward. After a four-week trial earlier this year, the jury concluded all defendants were responsible. The property management company and the HOA were found negligent in their respective failures to monitor and maintain the property’s surrounding hedge height in compliance with local town codes and in their failure to ensure compliance with the community traffic sign height ordinance. .The jury apportioned negligence 10% to the driver of the minivan, 30% to the HOA and 60% to the property management company for a total of $12,000,000 owed to the parents.