Jury Deciding Damage Award In Deadly DUI Crash
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ordered last week to pay $30 million in compensatory damages to the family of a couple he killed in a 2009 DUI crash, Thomas Cypress will find out Monday how much he’ll be on the hook for in punitive damages.
Cypress, the brother of former Miccosukee Chairman Billy Cypress, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the drunken-driving crash which claimed the lives of Robert and Paulette Kirkpatrick, a Maryland couple in town for a vacation and to attend an art show, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
At the time of the accident, Cypress’ blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit. Investigators said Cypress veered his truck into the opposite lane on the Tamiami Trail in West Miami-Dade and smashed into the couple’s rental car.
At the time of the crash, Cypress was driving with a suspended license after an earlier DUI charge. Before that, he had twice been arrested on DUI charges.
The crash, which happened in February, came at a time when the Miccosukee tribe was blocking efforts by Miami-Dade prosecutors who wanted their police department’s records on another fatal crash involving a tribe member.
Liliana Bermudez died in a DUI wreck with a tribal member in 1998. Her family sued the driver and the car’s owner. Four years, ago a jury awarded her family $3.2 million in damages.
But payment of the judgment has been mired in court battles ever since.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report