Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawsuit questions accident victim's claim

TAMPA — No one disputes that two Marriott co-workers died after a speeding car struck them as they walked across a sidewalk along the Harbour Island Bridge.

But the lawyer for the driver is raising another question: Was a third Marriott worker injured by his client?

Lawyers for Matthew R. Moye want a judge to throw out the negligence lawsuit filed against Moye by former Marriott employee Joao Barbosa.

They say a hotel security camera that captured the moments just before the October 2010 crash shows Barbosa nowhere in sight.

"The video proves that plaintiff was never involved in this accident," according to court filings Wednesday by Moye's attorney, Brandon Scheele. "Plaintiff has perpetrated a fraud upon this court in an opportunistic attempt to capitalize upon a tragic event which claimed the lives of two people."

The motion asks a judge to throw out the case based on fraud.

Barbosa, who speaks little English, has said through an interpreter in depositions that he was walking within 6 feet of Douglas Kozar and Kate Kohlier in the moments leading up to the accident.

Police say Moye was speeding on the bridge in a 2001 Cadillac coupe at about 2 a.m. when he hit a curb and spun out of control.

Investigative reports show Moye reached 89 mph seconds just before striking and killing Kozar, 23, and Kohlier, 24. His blood alcohol was 0.13 percent, which exceeds the level at which the state presumes impairment.

Barbosa has said he managed to jump out of the way, injuring his ankle. He was treated at the scene.

Police charged Moye with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of DUI manslaughter and one count of driving under the influence with injury. A pretrial conference in the criminal case is scheduled for later this month.

Steve Romine, Moye's lawyer in the criminal case, said he's watching how the civil lawsuit plays out.

He said a blow to the credibility of Barbosa, a police witness, raises questions about the entire case.

"When you discover that evidence relied upon by law enforcement is untrue, then it does raise questions as to everything else in the investigation," he said.

The grainy Marriott video shows only two people on the sidewalk. About 30 seconds later, the video captures a car losing control.

"It appears conclusive to me," Romine said. "It is clear to me, and I think to any reasonable person looking at the video, there's no third person diving out of the way of the car. He's not there."

Mark Cox, a spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office, declined to comment on the civil case.

Barbosa's attorney, Jose Toledo, had not seen a copy of the new court filing and declined to comment on the allegations.

"I can't imagine that to be true," he said. "These are the same folks who alleged the seat belt defense."

Toledo was referring to one of Moye's original affirmative defenses, which said Barbosa — despite being on foot — failed "to use an available operational seat belt."

Scheele, Moye's civil attorney, called the case a tragedy.

"But it's offensive to think someone would inject themselves in an accident when they weren't involved," he said.

Reach Jodie Tillman at or (813) 226-3374.

Lawsuit questions accident victim's claim 09/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 12:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona


    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]