MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The jury reached a verdict in the trial of a driver who hit and killed two University of Miami students.
The jury chose to award nearly $8.6 million to both sets of parents for economic damages and pain and suffering. They also found the driver Milady Pequeno was 95 percent to blame and the students were 5 percent. The percentage of fault of the students, determined by the jury, will be deducted from the millions awarded to the parents.
After the jurors collected their belongings, several returned to the courtroom and embraced the parents. Mothers of the students sobbed in the arms of the jurors. One juror told CBS4 News, the panel concluded in the end that Pequeno drove in a “reckless” manner, “not paying attention” to the road in front of her. Another juror said the group “followed the law” as instructed by the judge, including a mandate that pedestrians have the right of way when in an intersection.
Having won a multi-million dollar award, the issue now is collecting. According to the plaintiffs’ counsel, Pequeno had insurance coverage of only $500,000, but is believed to own a corporation that includes one or more retail gasoline operations.
Pequeno and her attorney Richard Adams declined to speak to CBS4 News following the verdict. CBS4 was the only news organization present when the verdict in this highly charged case was returned.
On Wednesday morning, the jury had resumed deliberations. They asked for and received a calculator. It was unclear why they had asked for it but they heard testimony during the trial about the expected incomes of the students had they lived, and the life expectancy of the parents, which could have been considered for pain and suffering damages.
Just a day before, the attorneys for the parents of the students killed were asking the jury to award them approximately $2 million in economic damages, about a million dollars each, but asked for each set of parents to be awarded five to $7 million for their pain and suffering.
The jury began deliberating just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Pequeno was being sued for negligence after her Porsche slammed into Ying Chen, 27, and Hau Liu, 26, as they crossed Kendall Drive at an intersection just east of Dixie Highway on the evening of October 16, 2014. Police said Pequeno sped off after the incident.
In her testimony during the trial , Pequeno was unable to explain why she did not stop. She had also argued she did not see the students since her view was obscured by an SUV.