John Goodman struck and killed 23 year old Scott Wilson in a Feb. 12, 2010 car accident. Blood tests taken hours after the crash found that Goodman’s blood alcohol content was 0.177 percent, more than twice the legal limit in Florida to be considered driving while intoxicated. Blood tests did not find any alcohol or illegal drugs in Wilson’s system.
Wilson’s parents are suing Goodman for wrongful death in connection with the crash. Goodman raised as affirmative defense that Scott Wilson was at fault in causing the crash. However, Goodman has refused to give a reason why Wilson might be to blame, citing his Fifth Amendment right to not make statements that could be used to incriminate him at a criminal trial. Goodman has been charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash in connection with Wilson’s death.
Jason Schultz of the Palm Beach Post reported that Circuit Judge Glenn Kelly ruled that Goodman could continue to pursue that liability defense for now. But Kelley said that unless he gives a reason why Wilson is supposedly to blame the judge would probably invalidate it at trial.
“I think it’s premature to strike the affirmative defense,” Kelley said.
Jason Schultz reported that Goodman’s attorney in the civil suit, Dan Bachi, said the defense it still gathering evidence and pleading its defenses. If after discovery there is not evidence of Wilson’s liability that defense might be dropped.
As a practical matter the Defendant can avail himself to all available Affirmative Defenses. However, at the conclusion of the discovery or fact gathering process, the Defendant must have facts to support the affirmative defenses that are raised.
As a Miami Personal Injury lawyer, I have often encountered Defendant’s that raise multiple affirmative Defenses at the onset of a lawsuit. As the lawsuit evolves those defense’s are often withdrawn or stricken by the court.