By Christina Pazzanese, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly – PDF Version
August 30, 2010
Two Needham brothers who were victims of a 2006 car crash that left one of the men permanently unable to walk or speak were recently awarded $12 million in damages by a jury in Norfolk Superior Court.
While the collision was caused by a driver with a record riddled with citations, license suspensions and accidents dating back to 1997, it was the man’s grandparents who proved to be the key to the big win, lawyers for the plaintiffs say.
The then-26-year-old Vittorio C. Gentile Jr. of Canton was driving his grandparents’ sports utility vehicle at the time and had been found criminally responsible for the head-on collision in a separate suit.
But in Silverio v. Gentile, et al., the jury found that it was his elderly grandparents, Lydia and Vittorio Gentile, who were responsible for negligently allowing him to use their 1999 Lexus SUV in the first place, after they had become aware of his extensive and poor driving record.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged Gentile had been hit with so many surcharges that the couple had him removed from their insurance policy even though other grandchildren were still covered and permitted to use their vehicles.
The grandparents also were found to have been negligent in their failure to secure the car from the younger Gentile by routinely leaving the keys out in the open, hanging on a rack in the kitchen.
Howard S. Goldman of Goldman, Goldman & Pease in Needham, who represented plaintiffs Douglas and Joseph Homsi, said the basis of the award is unusual in that the damages stem from the vehicle owners’ apparent consent to allow a dangerous driver use their car. He said the verdict is also notable for having been rendered in a state and county not always known for siding with plaintiffs in tort claims. [Read more...]