Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appeals court upholds ruling that Spring Hill man must pay millions to family in crash

The Second District Court of Appeal upheld a civil judgment that a Spring Hill man was at fault in a 2007 crash that killed three people and injured a fourth and must pay the survivors millions in damages.

David Belniak, 39, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for the crash after a jury found him guilty of three counts of DUI manslaughter in 2011. He was later sued in civil court and ordered to pay around $15 million.

The crash happened about 2:20 p.m. Dec. 25, 2007. A family group was headed to a Christmas gathering in Brooksville. They had presents and a holiday ham in the car.

Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system. He was driving between 75 and 85 mph when his pickup smashed into the back of Ray McWilliams' Chevrolet Tahoe at U.S. 19 and Little Road.

His wife, Linda McWilliams, 66, was put on life support and died a week later; her daughter, Denise Bassi, 50, died in surgery that day, and Denise's husband, Gerard Bassi, 51, died at the scene.

Family members said Ray McWilliams never fully recovered and he died in 2011 at age 68. The Bassis lived in Connecticut and were visiting Florida for the holidays.

According to the court's website, a PCA — per curiam affirmed — was filed on June 28, finding that a written analysis was unnecessary.

Maureen Deskins, one of the lawyers for the families, said Belniak foresaw a civil suit and sold his assets to his parents within three weeks of the crash. She said Belniak made about $100,000 annually from his job with his parents' Hernando construction company and from collecting rent at his two apartment buildings. He was represented in the civil trial by his sister Debra Tuomey.

Deskins has a pending case in Hernando County against Belniak and his parents to recover the properties.

Belniak also has a pending lawsuit against the Florida Highway Patrol, alleging their investigation of the crash was flawed.

Appeals court upholds ruling that Spring Hill man must pay millions to family in crash 07/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 4:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida TaxWatch calls out $180 million of questionable spending in state budget

    Blogs

    Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee thinktank, has released its annual "budget turkey" list that calls on Gov. Rick Scott to veto nearly $180 million in special projects tucked into the budget, mostly in transportation.

    Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch's vice president for research, presents the organization's 2017 turkey list.
  2. U.S. plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea on mind

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON — Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday.

    n this May 21 file photo people watch a TV news program showing a file image of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With North Korea's nuclear missile threat in mind, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.
  3. A breakdown of the proposed new state budget by the Florida Association of Counties.
  4. Gradebook podcast: Budgets, pre-k, achievement gap and more

    Blogs

    As classes let out across Florida, school district leaders continue to analyze how they're going to balance their budgets given the constraints proposed by state lawmakers.  Reporter Jeff Solochek and editor Tom Tobin discuss the concerns district finance officials are raising as they look at the budget while …

  5. Boehner: Trump's term 'disaster,' aside from foreign affairs

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner says that aside from international affairs and foreign policy, President Donald Trump's time in office has so far been a "complete disaster."

    John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.