Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State Supreme Court orders more hearings on motorcyclist's $18M claim against Tampa

TAMPA — A court case that grew out of a catastrophic crash 14 years ago — and that ultimately could be the biggest civil jury award ever against the city of Tampa — will go on even longer, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices sent the case back to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, where the city will make more arguments for a new trial.

The case dates to Nov. 26, 1996, the day that Ramiro G. Companioni Jr.'s motorcycle slammed into a city water department truck on Hillsborough Avenue near 50th Street.

He argued the truck caused the crash by veering across traffic and sideswiping him.

Companioni, once a successful chef, learned to walk again after nearly having his legs cut off in the crash. His right knee was fused and he could not bend at the waist. He later sold hot dogs outside Tampa Bay Buccaneers games and at car dealerships.

He since has taken up construction work where he can get it, Companioni said. But multiple surgeries have severely limited his options, and he said he can't drive, use a wheelchair, sit in typical chairs or walk normally.

"It gets hard to hold down a job when you don't know where you're going to be next week or how long its going to take to recover," he said.

In its appeal, the city had argued it deserved another trial because of misconduct by Companioni's attorney. The city objected to his conduct at the time, but didn't seek a mistrial.

City attorneys requested a mistrial only after the $18 million judgment was returned against the city. But the trial judge told them they should have asked for a mistrial before the verdict.

An appellate court ruled the trial judge used the wrong standard, and ordered a new trial.

But state Supreme Court justices agreed in the ruling Thursday with the trial judge — that the city should have asked earlier.

Tampa City Attorney Chip Fletcher said he was disappointed by the ruling, but that the city would continue appeals.

The city will still argue that misconduct by the plaintiff's attorney denied the city a fair trial. And the city will also argue that the judgment was excessive.

Companioni said he's not surprised. "They are going to say that $18 million is too heavy a burden on taxpayers, but what about the attorney fees they keep accumulating?" Companioni asked.

State Supreme Court orders more hearings on motorcyclist's $18M claim against Tampa 12/16/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Austin software company acquires second Tampa business

    Corporate

    Austin, Tex.-based Asure Software acquired Tampa's Compass HRM Inc. late last week for $6 million. Compass focuses on HR and payroll.

    [Company photo]
  2. Hackers hide cyberattacks in social media posts

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn't come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document.

    Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr, former NSA employees and co-founders of Synack, a cybersecurity company, in their office in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2013. While last year's hacking of senior Democratic Party officials raised awareness of the damage caused if just a handful of employees click on the wrong emails, few people realize that a message on Twitter or Facebook could give an attacker similar access to their system. 
[New York Times file photo]
  3. On average, a quarter of Transformation Zone staff not returning next school year

    Blogs

    Combined, nearly one in four teachers staffed at eight schools in the Pinellas County school district's Transformation Zone will not return to their school in the fall.

  4. New Port Richey police investigating shooting that left one man wounded

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A man was shot and wounded Saturday after police said he assaulted a restaurant employee.

  5. What to watch this week: 'Still Star-Crossed' on ABC, 'House of Cards' Season 5

    Blogs

    MONDAY

    Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards Season 5.