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Jury awards $24M verdict in FPL wrongful death case


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  • | 4:54 p.m. January 2, 2018
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FORT MYERS — A Lee County jury awarded a Southwest Florida family nearly $24 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against Florida Power & Light.

The case involves Tricia Dominguez, which sued the utility after the 2011 death of her son, 15-year-old Justin Dominguez. The teenager died a few weeks after he sustained catastrophic injuries from climbing a bamboo stalk outside a neighbor's home that struck high-voltage FPL power lines, according to a statement.

Dominguez's attorneys, Ty Roland and Evan Lubell, contended in court that “FPL knew for years that the highly conductive bamboo posed a serious threat to the people living in the area, and yet the Florida utility did nothing to address the danger,” according to the statement.

“In 2008, FPL's own inspectors warned the company that bamboo near the Dominguez home was too close to power lines and should be removed,” the attorneys, with Aloia, Roland, Lubell & Morgan, add in the statement. The attorneys also showed the jury an FPL work order to remove the bamboo at that exact address from three years before Justin died, according to a release.

A six-man jury found for Tricia Dominguez and awarded her $8.75 million for pain and suffering for the loss of her first-born son. The jury also awarded punitive damages of $15 million for FPL's gross negligence, the release states.

"We extend our thoughts and prayers to the Dominguez family during this difficult time," FPL says in an emailed statement. "We disagree with the jury's decision and are evaluating further legal options."

Roland, in the statement, says “FPL had more than ten opportunities, since 2008, to eliminate the danger to the children living adjacent to this 13,000 volt power line, and failed to act each and every time. They broke the law. They broke their own rules. They blamed a boy for climbing a tree, instead of apologizing and trying to stop it from happening again."


(This story was updated to include comments from FPL.)

 

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