MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Jurors reached a verdict Monday afternoon in a civil lawsuit against convicted drunk driver, Thomas Cypress.
After nearly two hours deliberating, the jury of six decided in a Miami-Dade County courtroom that Cypress should pay $5 million in punitive damages to the son and daughter of victims Robert and Paulette Kirkpatrick.
Monday´s award of $5 million is in addition to $30 million awarded last week to siblings Steven and Jennifer Kirkpatrick for compensatory damages.
The sibling´s attorney Brett Rosen told the jury Cypress should be held financially accountable. Brett says Cypress has the means, that the fact he hired well-known South Florida private law firm of Roy Black is proof.
Cypress´ attorney William Fink told jurors Cypress is broke and has no way to pay the family restitution.
Steven Kirkpatrick said on the stand he and his sister want to send a message. “Jenny and I had zero participation in the criminal trial. We were spectators. We had zero control over our situation except for this.”
In February 2009, Cypress slammed his truck into the Kirkpatrick’s rented sedan on Tamiami Trail. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. He was also driving with a suspended license for previous DUI charges. The couple was retired and in South Florida from Maryland.
Cypress is the brother of Billy Cypress, a former leader of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.
He pleaded in guilty in 2010 in criminal court and sentenced to 12 years in prison.