A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kitzie Nicanor, the pedestrian that was critically injured when officer Derick Kuilan struck her and a friend with his city-issued ATV.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office charged Kuilan Tuesday with two felony counts of drunk driving with serious bodily injuries and two counts of reckless driving. He has since been released on bond.
According to the arrest warrant, Kuilan was assigned to the midnight ATV patrol shift when he and officer Rolando Gutierrez, assigned to the Mid-Beach district, went to the Clevelander hotel around 5 a.m. They mingled with four young women at a bachelorette party.
Kuilian then invited the bachelorette, Adalee Martin, for a ride on his ATV.
Witnesses said the two were riding the vehicle with lights off when they plowed into Nicanor — in town from Seattle for a family reunion — and Luis Almonte of North Miami. Almonte suffered a leg injury that required surgery and has been released from the hospital. He is undergoing physical therapy.
The lawsuit named the Clevelander Hotel, alleging its management often encourages Miami Beach police officers to stop in and join the party – on duty or not. As reported by The Miami Herald, The lawsuit claims the hotel created a dangerous situation by promoting “an environment for on-duty, uniformed police officers, including Derick Kuilan, to drink freely.”
The suit, which names the hotel and Kuilan, alleges that the hip tourist spot has a longstanding history of serving uniformed police officers alcohol in concealed containers. The suit outlines numerous allegations against the hotel. It asserts that Kuilan was a frequent patron of the bar and that employees knew he often drank excessively. But management at the Clevelander said Thursday they did not serve alcohol to Kuilan that morning, and that the hotel will dispute all the charges.
Five hours after the accident, which happened about 5:30 a.m. July 3 on a South Beach shoreline, Kuilian’s blood alcohol level measured .088 – just above the legal limit for operating a vehicle.
Investigators are still trying to determine exactly where Kuilan consumed the alcohol; the arrest warrant did not state that he drank at the Clevelander.
Nicanor who is paralyzed on her right side and suffers from memory loss, will also file suit against the city of Miami Beach.
The liability as against Officer Kuilian is clear, and the City of Miami Beach as his employer will move quickly to settle this case. However, Florida Law currently caps the amount of damages recoverable against the State at $100,000 per individual. To recover money in excess of $100,000 requires the passage of a claims bill. This is a very difficult and long process reserved for the most extreme injury cases.
The remainder of the lawsuit is difficult. The claim against the Clevelander hotel falls under Florida’s dramshop act, which requires a individual that is suing a bar for negligence prove that the bar served alcohol to a minor or a known drunkard. The officer was not a minor, and thus proving that he was a known drunkard is difficult.