South Florida Polo Magnate Convicted of Vehicular Homicide and DUI-Manslaughter

Last Friday, a Palm Beach County jury convicted 48-year-old John Goodman of motor vehicular homicide and DUI-manslaughter in connection with a February 11, 2010 car accident that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. The jury, which consisted of five men and two women, deliberated for approximately five and one-half hours and during that time requested to listen to 911 calls made after the accident. Goodman was immediately taken into custody and transferred to Palm Beach County Jail following the jury’s verdict. He now faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. Goodman is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30th.

The case made headlines across the world after polo magnate Goodman, who is an heir to a $1.4 billion Texas air conditioning fortune, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend last fall. At trial, Goodman was accused of speeding while intoxicated in his normally chauffeured Bentley, running a stop sign, and crashing into Wilson’s vehicle. He was also accused of leaving the scene of the collision and waiting more than an hour before he notified authorities about the accident. Instead, Goodman purportedly walked away and called his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Wilson drowned in his Hyundai which landed on its roof in a nearby canal.

Goodman’s defense claimed the man sustained a concussion in the accident and did not realize Wilson’s car was upside down in the canal. Goodman testified that although he tried to stop at the stop sign, his Bentley malfunctioned and sped forward out of control. The defense team also provided testimony from an expert who stated the throttle on Goodman’s vehicle was stuck open before the accident. A juror stated after the trial that the expert’s testimony did not appear to be credible.

Following the crash, Goodman’s blood alcohol level was .177, more than double Florida’s legal limit of .08. Goodman testified that he was not driving while drunk. He claimed he drank the alcohol found in his system following the crash at a barn owned by a fellow polo player. Goodman stated he drank the alcohol merely to ease the pain of a broken bone. Prosecutors offered eyewitness evidence Goodman consumed at least four alcoholic drinks prior to the crash. The jury reportedly did not believe Goodman’s account of the evening. Goodman is also facing a $100 million wrongful death civil suit filed by Wilson’s parents.

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. Our diligent and hardworking Miami personal injury attorneys have experience litigating a wide variety of complex injury, accident, and negligence claims. The lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are committed to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve. To speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case, contact Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. through our website or call the law firm today at (305) 371-6000.

More Blog Posts:

What rights do Crime Victims of any Race truly have?, Miami Injury Lawyer Blog, March 24, 2012
Florida East Coast Railway Train 210 Kills 2 In Same Day, Personal Injury Lawyer Says Thorough Investigation Needed, Miami Injury Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2012
Additional Resources:

Polo magnate Goodman found guilty in DUI manslaughter case, by Peter Franceschina and Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel

Two years after fatal crash, polo mogul faces criminal and civil trials, by Peter Franceschina, Sun Sentinel

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