Jurors in Bridgeport Superior Court awarded $25 million March 12 to a restaurant owner who was hit and severely injured by a state trooper going 100 miles an hour on May 29, 2010. It is the highest verdict against the state ever awarded in Connecticut.
The amount was reduced to $16 million because the injured man was found to be partially at fault.
After 2 a.m. on May 29, 2010, the restaurant owner, 48-year-old Melvin Gordils, was heading home once he closed his restaurant, reports the Connecticut Law Tribune. Travelling north on the Route 8 and Route 25 connector off of Interstate 95, he called his wife when his truck ran out of gas. She couldn’t pick him up because she was nursing, so Gordils decided to walk home, which was only about a mile away.
He had made it across the two northbound lanes and the median when a state police cruiser traveling 100 miles per hour without any emergency lights or sirens struck him. Gordils’ right leg was severed, his left leg and pelvis were crushed, and his arms were extremely damaged, according to reports.
Instead of stopping to help Gordils, the trooper, Darren Pavlik, an 18-year veteran on the state police force, allegedly drove around Bridgeport erasing evidence of the crash from the camera attached to his car. He returned to Gordils, and instead of apologizing, Gordils’ lawyer told the jury, the trooper “interrogated” the injured man and asked him what he was doing, running across the highway in the middle of the night. He also asked Gordils if he had been drinking.
Gordils’ lawyer said the trooper was establishing a story to exonerate himself.
Gordils has had 25 surgeries. He spent a total of nine months in the hospital. He suffered massive internal bleeding in his arms that needed surgery, and he suffered brain damage. His pelvis had to be reconstructed, and today he is confined to a wheelchair and cannot hold anything with his hands.
The trooper has changed his story six times since the accident, said Gordils’ lawyer. At first he argued he was chasing another vehicle. But his lights and siren were off, the lawyer said. He said he thought the police officer was speeding back to the police barracks to complete paperwork and finish his shift.
The defendant’s lawyers claimed the trooper was not going 100 miles per hour, that Gordils should not have been crossing a busy highway at that time of night, and that the plaintiff’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. The state’s toxicologist was questioned by Gordils lawyer. The toxicologist admitted that massive tissue injuries can distort a blood alcohol reading, sometimes indicating a high level even when no alcohol has been consumed.
The jury, after deliberating for three days, ruled that the state was at fault for 65 percent and Gordils’ for 35 percent of the damages. Hence, the $25 million award was reduced to $16 million. The jury specified $1.2 million for past medical expenses, $7 million for future medical expenses, and $17 million for non-economic damages.
Gordils requires 24-hours-a day care. Up to this point, the care has been provided mostly by two of his children.
“He needs professional assistance and with this jury award, he will be able to get that,” his lawyer said.
If you or someone you love is seriously injured in an accident, even if you are partially at fault, you may qualify for financial compensation to help with your medical expenses and care. To speak with an experienced injury lawyer in Connecticut, contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today.
*Please note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent the plaintiff in this case. This is a news story reported by the Connecticut Law Tribune.