Back in February 2010, International Polo Club Palm Beach founder John Goodman ran through a stop sign and rammed his Bentley into a Hyundai. The impact sent the Hyundai and its driver, 23-year old Scott Wilson, into a canal in Wellington, Florida and Wilson drowned.
Goodman was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence. He blamed the manufacturer of his $280,000 car, alleging that it lurched forward on its own.
Goodman did not try to help Scott Wilson or call 911. Instead, he walked away from the scene of the accident. His phone was apparently not working so his attorney claimed that he was trying to find a phone. As per the testimony of the witness whose phone was ultimately used, Goodman called his girlfriend instead of 911.
Goodman also denied being intoxicated, even though tests administered 3 hours after the accident showed thrice the legal alcohol limit in his blood.
Goodman's defense didn't work and a jury handed in guilty verdicts for DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Goodman's attorneys are now trying to get a retrial on the basis that the jury was biased and had already made its decision even before the trial ended. If the motion for a retrial because of juror misconduct is rejected, Goodman faces up to 30 years in prison.
Another facet of the case has already ended. The civil lawsuit filed by Lili and William Wilson, the deceased Scott Wilson's parents, has been settled for $46 million.
This settlement amount is not being paid by Goodman from his personal fortune. While the lawsuit was in progress, Goodman adopted his girlfriend in a bid to protect his fortune from liabilities. The settlement amount for the Wilsons is being paid by Goodman's insurers, and $6 million is coming from the Player's Club where Goodman was drinking prior to the car accident.
Before stopping by at the Player's Club, Goodman had already been drinking at the White Horse Tavern where he was attending a charity.
Did you know?
An establishment can be held liable for a drunk driving accident caused by a patron who has been served alcohol.
The dram shop laws in 43 out of 50 states state that if drunk patrons are served more alcohol and then cause an accident, then the establishment can be held liable for the accident.