Merritt Island man, paralyzed after dare, wins $76.6M award
A Merritt Island man who was paralyzed when he answered a dare to do a belly flop in the Indian River has been awarded $76.6 million by a Brevard County jury.
Timothy D. Hoffman, who was 20 at the time of the accident on Jan. 16, 2003, broke his neck when he sprinted down a dock in Port St. John and slammed headfirst into the bottom of the shallow river.
The former construction worker is unable to move his legs or arms but has limited movement in his shoulders, said his attorney, Donald Van Dingenen of Winter Park.
Hoffman's mother quit her job to take care of him. He lives in his parents' converted garage, requires assistance to eat and dress, and cannot use the bathroom normally, Van Dingenen said. His father is a construction worker who has to travel out of state to take jobs to support the family during the recession.
A jury late Wednesday in Viera decided that Hoffman should receive $1.5 million for past medical expenses, $89,000 for lost earnings, $21.7 million for future medical expenses, $583,000 for loss of future earnings, and a whopping $52.8 million for pain and suffering. The judgment is one of the largest in Brevard history, Van Dingenen said.
Whether Hoffman will collect, however, is questionable.
The defendant, C&D Dock Works, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May because of the incident, said its former owner, Charles Brunty. A judge in November 2007 ruled that the company was negligent.
I'm not even going to make a Florida joke.