Right Place, Right Time, Right Foot?

By: Michael Seinberg

Getting hit by a car is usually not a cause for celebration, unless you’re 26-year old New York City resident Ryan Coutu who took the opportunity to file a $100 million lawsuit against the driver of the AMG Mercedes. Oh, by the way, the driver’s daddy is a beer billionaire and the second richest guy in Colombia. Cha-Ching!

The driver, brewery heir Andres Santo Domingo, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident and will do six days of community service and forfeit his license for 90 days. According to published reports, the accident took place on March 29th at the corner of East 34th Street and Third Avenue. Santo Domingo struck Coutu in the elbow with the driver’s side mirror on his very expensive car and then made eye contact with his victim who was said to have been lying on the ground. He then took off, running over the victim’s foot in the process.

“My guy is lying on the ground, and this real humanitarian leaves him lying there,” said Herb Subin, Coutu’s lawyer. At present, Coutu is getting rehabilitation for herniated discs and will need another surgery to repair nerve damage in his elbow. Chances are good he’ll come up with a few more injuries before this case finally ends up in court. Perhaps his foot will finally be addressed.

The bottom line here is that as soon as it became apparent that the driver in question has Grand Canyon sized deep pockets, the injuries increased and the cost skyrocketed. The 26-year-old college student and his lawyer obviously feel like they hit the lottery with this one and you can be sure while taxpayers are paying for this case to wind through the courts, they’ll be planning on how to spend their riches.  Nobody denies that the beer heir was at fault and he plead guilty and took his lashes, but the fact that he’s now likely to have to fork over a mammoth sized chunk of change tells you a lot about the legal environment here in Sue York State.

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