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Hulk Hogan settles lawsuit over son's crash that injured John Graziano

Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan has settled a lawsuit with the family of a young man critically injured in a car wrecked by Hogan's son, attorneys said Friday.

The terms of the financial settlement with Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, and his son Nick Bollea are confidential, said attorneys George Tragos and Kimberly Kohn, who represent crash victim John Graziano.

But this week's settlement, plus the resolution of a separate case between Bollea and his former attorneys, ends the lawsuits over the August 2007 crash that left Graziano with severe brain injuries.

"Our goals all along in this lawsuit, we believe, have been reached," Kohn said. "John is going to be provided appropriate care for the remainder of his life."

None of Graziano's relatives will receive part of the settlement, Tragos said.

"This is all for John, 100 percent for John," he said. "I know that there were a lot of statements that other family members were going to benefit from this, but that's not the case at all. This is strictly for John and his care."

Graziano suffered a broken skull when 17-year-old Nick Bollea lost control of his Toyota Supra near downtown Clearwater, crashing into a palm tree.

Graziano, an Iraq War veteran, was hospitalized for two years at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa. He was discharged in September and remains in a minimally conscious state, Kohn said.

Graziano, 25, lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Pinellas County with his mother, Debra, and his brother, Michael. His mother shares a room with her son and the medical equipment his care requires.

"His mother has provided amazing, amazing medical care to John," Kohn said. "Nursing homes and hospitals could really take lessons from Debbie Graziano on how to care for a patient such as John."

Over time, Graziano's condition has slowly improved, his attorneys said. He can't speak, but he can respond to requests. For example, he can lift his arm if he is asked to do so. If he doesn't like the way someone wipes his mouth, he makes an expression of disapproval.

Those close to Graziano hope for a full recovery one day, but "we recognize it would take a miracle," Tragos said.

The settlement was worked out Wednesday during a nine-hour meeting that had been originally scheduled to discuss exhibits for a civil trial scheduled for March.

Attorneys for Bollea raised the question of a settlement before the meeting, according to Tragos and Kohn.

Wil Florin, an attorney for Bollea, offered a slightly different account, saying that Wednesday's negotiations were a "continuation of long-standing settlement discussions."

A Pinellas-Pasco circuit court judge approved the settlement Friday morning, Tragos said.

Also on Wednesday, Bollea reached a settlement with his former attorneys from the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, Florin said. Last year, Bollea sued the firm, saying $1 million of the $1.5 million in fees that he paid were unnecessary.

Terms of that settlement also are confidential, Florin said, but it was negotiated on the same day as the settlement of the Graziano case against the Bolleas.

Florin would not say whether either of the settlements was contingent on the other.

With the conclusion of the litigation, Terry Bollea hopes that one day he can resume contact with John Graziano and his mother, Florin said.

"He and Nick care very deeply for John," Florin said.

In May 2008, Nick Bollea pleaded no contest to reckless driving in the wreck. He served 166 days in the Pinellas County Jail. He now lives in California.

In July, Terry and Linda Bollea divorced after 26 years of marriage.

In January, attorneys for Linda Bollea said she reached a settlement in the auto negligence suit. The terms are confidential.

Also in January, Tragos said, a confidential settlement was reached with Daniel Jacobs, who was sued along with Terry, Linda and Nick Bollea. Jacobs was allegedly racing Nick Bollea in the moments before the crash.

Meanwhile, John Graziano's father, Edward Graziano, remains in the Pinellas County Jail, awaiting trial on a charge that he tried to hire someone to kill his wife. Undercover Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say Graziano wanted his estranged wife to die in a staged car accident.

Times staff writer Rita Farlow contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Hulk Hogan settles lawsuit over son's crash that injured John Graziano 02/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 11:38pm]
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