Will Sylvester Stallone’s $400 Million Fortune Be Split 50/50 in Divorce?

After more than 25 years of marriage, Sylvester Stallone and his wife Jennifer Flavin are calling it quits. The couple doesn’t appear to have a prenuptial agreement, so what will happen to the $400 million amassed by Stallone? Will it be split 50-50 between the couple?

A 25-Year Marriage Comes to an End

Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin met more than thirty years ago. The two dated for a few years before finally tying the knot in 1997. The couple spent decades together, in which time they had three daughters (Scarlet, 20, Sistine, 24, and Sophia, 25) and accumulated millions of dollars in assets.

Stallone is expected to be worth roughly $400 million. The couple owns property in California and has a primary residence in Palm Beach, Florida. The 13,241 square-foot mansion is estimated to be worth $35 million.

The couple uses the Florida home as their primary residence, which is why Flavin, just a few months after the couple celebrated their 25th anniversary, filed for divorce in the state of Florida.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

Stallone’s Wife Files for Divorce in Florida

No one knows exactly what led to the couple’s breakup. (The media has been playing up stories that they broke up over an argument about getting a dog, although Stallone told TMZ the story isn’t true.).

Court documents have offered some insight into the split and ideas about what might happen to Stallone’s $400 million fortune.

It doesn’t appear the couple had a prenuptial agreement. In Florida, a divorce with no prenuptial agreement goes through an equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. The equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities is defined in Florida Statute 61.075.

Under this statute, assets and liability that are considered to be marital are split 50-50 between both parties. But, marital assets and liability are not always split exactly down the middle.

A judge may decide to split assets differently based on multiple factors such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The economic conditions of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the other’s education or career advancement
  • Wrongful conduct during the marriage
  • Waste or depletion of assets caused by one party

So, what factors might impact the 50-50 split of assets for Stallone and Flavin?

Related: 9 Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney Before Hiring Them 

Splitting $400 Million in Assets

It appears that the division of assets in Stallone and Flavin’s divorce may be more complex than a simple 50-50 split.

Flavin’s divorce filings indicate that she may want more than 50%.

Flavin filed court documents that allege that Stallone is hiding and wasting marital assets. Court documents say:

“Upon information and belief, the Husband has engaged in the intentional dissipation, depletion and/or waste of marital assets which has had an adverse economic impact on the marital estate.

Pursuant to Section 61.075, Florida Statues, equity dictates that the Wife be compensated and made whole by receiving an unequal distribution of the marital assets in her favor.

Moreover, the Husband should be enjoined from, selling, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or dissipating any assets during the pendency of proceedings.”

Flavin is asking for more than 50% because she believes Stallone has taken or used assets that belong to both of them. Her request is that she receive more in the divorce to make up for the lost assets.

Flavin also had a few other requests. She asked the judge to prohibit Stallone from moving assets from their shared marital accounts, and she requested exclusive use of the joint family home in Palm Beach, Florida. (According to Insider, Stallone has refused to vacate the home.)

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce In Florida?   

What Happens from Here?

Now that the divorce is in the legal system, one of the next steps will be gathering financial information and creating an official list of the couple’s marital liabilities and assets. Because the couple’s children are adults, there likely won’t be any litigation regarding child support or custody.

The couple can choose to go through divorce mediation to determine how they want to split up their assets, or they can let the court system decide it for them.

If the couple can’t agree on how to split assets, the judge can make a ruling — and the ruling may not split assets evenly at 50-50. For example, if the judge finds that Stallone engaged in the waste or depletion of assets, it may mean that Flavin could walk away with more than Stallone.

From here, we will wait and see if the couple decides to divide their assets on their own or require legal intervention.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Get Support for Your Florida Divorce

Going through a divorce and splitting up assets can be messy and complicated. If you are going through a divorce, make sure you have an attorney who can fight to get what is owed to you.

Talk to an experienced divorce attorney like TJ Grimaldi who knows what it takes to successfully guide a divorce through the legal process. Talk to TJ about your case today. Schedule your meeting or call 813-226-1023 now.

Why Was Vanessa Bryant Awarded $15 Million from Los Angeles County?

The world was shocked on January 26, 2020, when basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident. Now, more than two years later, Bryant’s wife Vanessa Bryant has been awarded millions of dollars from Los Angeles County.

What led the jury to award $15 million to Bryant’s family?

The Terrible Accident

It wasn’t unusual for the Bryant family to use a helicopter to avoid the congested roadways near their home in Orange County, California. But, the ride on January 26, 2020, didn’t end as usual.

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and six other passengers (which included two of Gianna Bryant’s teammates and their parents) were headed to the girl’s basketball game when, according to reports, the pilot of the helicopter became disoriented. Investigators believe the pilot entered a blanket of clouds and thought he was climbing when he was descending rapidly.

The helicopter crashed into a hillside killing all nine people on board.

The Photos of the Terrible Accident

When responders arrived at the scene, all of the passengers were deceased. The debris was scattered across the length of a football field. What some first responders did upon arriving is what led to Bryant’s lawsuit.

Some of the first responders took photos of the scene and victims on their personal devices.

Bryant alleged, “No fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”

Bryant also alleged responders showed the photos to others and tried to cover it up.

Eight months after the accident, Bryant filed a lawsuit claiming civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress, and violation of privacy.

The filing from Bryant’s legal team said, “Discovery has shown that the close-up photos of Gianna and Kobe’s remains were passed around on at least twenty-eight Sheriff’s Department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters.”

“It has also shown that Defendants engaged in a cover up, destroying the direct forensic evidence of their misconduct and requiring extensive circumstantial evidence to establish the full extent of that misconduct.”

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

The Trial

Bryant filed the lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit also included another plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife Sarah and daughter Payton were also killed in the accident.

As reported by CNN, the trial began on August 10, 2022 and revealed many details about the aftermath of the 2020 crash.

Bryant took the stand and described how she asked Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva to secure the scene to prevent paparazzi from gaining access. She said Villanueva assured her the scene would be secure.

Bryant also described the panic attacks and anxiety she has over the possibility of seeing the photos from the accident and how she received messages on Instagram indicating that people had photos of her loved ones. Her attorney showed a comment sent to her which said, “Ima leak Kobe’s body” along with helicopter and fire emojis.

Law enforcement personnel also took the stand. Some gave details about how they shared photos, and multiple witnesses described how a sheriff’s deputy trainee asked them if they wanted to see photos of the victim’s bodies.

After the 11-day trial, the jury came to a decision.

Related: Two Years Later, Why Is Vanessa Bryant Still in a Legal Fight Over Kobe’s Death?

The Verdict

The jury unanimously found Los Angeles County liable for damages.

Bryant had not made a specific request for damages, and attorneys for the Chester family had requested up to $32.5 million. In the end, the jury awarded both Bryant and Chester $15 million each.

The awards is broken down as:

  • $1.5 million to each plaintiff from the sheriff’s department for past emotional distress
  • $7.5 million to each plaintiff from the sheriff’s department for future suffering
  • $6 million to each plaintiff from the L.A. County Fire Department for emotional suffering

(Initially, the jury awarded $16 million to Bryant, but it was later reduced to $15 million when a juror discovered an error.)

Bryant doesn’t plan to keep the money.

She said she will donate the $15 million to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. The non-profile began as the Mamba Sports Foundation but was later renamed to honor both Kobe and Gianna Bryant. It provides funding and sports programming to underserved athletes.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

You and your family deserve to be protected. If you feel you have had your rights violated, talk to an attorney who can help you get the justice you deserve. If you have a civil case to discuss, such as a wrongful death or family law matter, talk to TJ Grimaldi today.

All consultations are free. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

Breaking Down Michelle Branch’s Arrest, Divorce & Dismissed Assault Charge

Michelle Branch needed a criminal attorney and a divorce attorney for incidents that occurred within a two-day span. What led to an arrest and a divorce in less than 48 hours?

Michelle Branch Arrested for Domestic Assault

On August 11, 2022, police were called to the home of Michelle Branch and her husband, The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. The couple, married for three years, lives in an upscale neighborhood in Forest Hills located in Nashville, Tennessee, with their children.

Court documents obtained by US Weekly described the scene.

Branch and Carney had been arguing at another location. The fight continued when they got home. The argument escalated, and Branch reportedly hit Carney in the face “one or two times.” Carney confirmed that Branch hit him. He seemed to suffer no physical injuries as police officers noted that Carney did not have visible injuries.

Branch was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge and taken into police custody. She was quickly released on the same day on $1,000 bail.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Michelle Branch Announces Divorce

On August 12, 2022, shortly after returning home from jail, Branch filed for divorce from Carney.

Branch’s filing cited “irreconcilable differences.”

The same day, Branch tweeted, “Just found out my husband cheated on me … while I was home with our 6-month-old daughter.” The Tweet was later deleted.

Branch and Carney share two children, a four-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter. WKRN reported that Branch is seeking primary custody of the two children in addition to child support.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Court Dismisses Michelle Branch’s Domestic Assault Charges

Branch was arrested in Tennessee, so her case is dictated by Tennessee law. Under Tennessee law, Branch could face fines and jail time for the domestic assault charge. The Class A misdemeanor faces penalties of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $15,000 fine. The Class B misdemeanor faces penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

In Florida, domestic violence is defined under statute 741.28 as, “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

Under Florida law, domestic charges can lead to penalties such as:

  • Probation
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Loss of rights such as a concealed carry permit
  • Enrollment in Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP)
  • No contact orders

At this time, Branch will face no legal consequences in Tennessee for the charges.

Just two weeks after Branch was arrested on the misdemeanor domestic assault charge, the case was dropped “at the request of the state.” A Nashville judge dismissed the case during an August 2022 hearing.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Moving Forward with Divorce Proceedings

With the criminal charges out of the way, Branch can now focus back on her divorce proceedings.

Branch is seeking primary custody of the two children she shares with Carney, in addition to child support. She also requested that Carney pay her attorneys’ fees and other litigation expenses and for her to be named as a beneficiary on Carney’s life insurance.

The couple is reportedly ordered to attend a mandated parenting seminar, and Branch is seeking an agreed permanent parenting plan from the court.

As the divorce moves forward, the couple will need to work out details related to:

  • Distribution of financial assets
  • Distribution of property
  • Distribution of debts
  • Child support payments
  • Alimony payments
  • Child custody and parenting time

Related: How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

Get Legal Representation You Can Trust

Within two days, Branch found herself needing both a divorce attorney and a criminal defense attorney. While her criminal case has been dismissed, she will now need to work through her divorce in the public eye. She’ll need a trusted attorney to guide her through the process.

Having an attorney you can trust is essential whether or not you are going through a legal matter in the public. If you find yourself needing assistance in either a civil or criminal matter, find an attorney who will fight for you.

Do you have a divorce or criminal case to discuss today? Request your free consultation with experienced attorney, TJ Grimaldi. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

DeSantis Removed an Elected State Attorney and It Triggered a Fight Over Free Speech

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis believes he was within his rights when he removed Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren from office. Warren thinks differently.

Warren believes the move was a violation of his First Amendment rights. What are their arguments, and where does the cases go from here?

Why Did DeSantis Remove Warren From Office?

On August 4, 2022, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference and announced that he was removing Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren from his position.

Warren, a Democrat, had been elected twice to his position in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida.

DeSantis said he was removing Warren due to Warren’s disregard for his duty to enforce state laws.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Warren joined dozens of prosecutors around the country in signing a pledge stating they would “refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions.” Warren also signed a similar document with a group of prosecutors who said they would not use their office to “promote the criminalization of gender-affirming health care or transgender people,” as reported by The Washington Post.

DeSantis says Warren, “put himself publicly above the law,” as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. DeSantis claimed he visited the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County and the response he got, “was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted.”

Under Florida law, a Governor can remove “any county officer” for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony.

An armed sheriff’s deputy escorted Warren from the building after DeSantis signed the order. DeSantis appointed a county judge to temporarily replace Warren. Susan Lopez, a Republican judge who backed Warren’s opponent in 2016, is now acting in his place.

DeSantis believes he is justified in the removal, but Warren thinks differently.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

Why Did Warren File a Federal Lawsuit Against DeSantis?

On August 17, 2022, Warren filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. The lawsuit argues that the Governor violated Warren’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech. It asks the court to rescind DeSantis’ order and reinstate Warren as the State Attorney.

While Warren pledged that he would not to prosecute people for violating abortion or gender-affirming restrictions, he had no pending cases related to either matter.

DeSantis’ order does not cite any examples of Warren failing to prosecute individual cases. The state currently doesn’t have any laws on gender-affirming care, and the 15-week abortion ban signed by DeSantis is currently facing lawsuits and will be heard in front of the State Supreme Court.

Warren argues that his removal isn’t a punishment for lack of prosecution — but is instead a punishment for his use of free speech.

“And let’s be clear — the Governor had absolutely no examples of specific actions taken by me or my office where I had ignored or declined to follow the law. This really is about my opposing two of his pet culture war issues — abortion and transgender health care,” Warren said, as reported by NPR.

This isn’t the first time public officials have been removed by DeSantis or his Republican predecessor. DeSantis performed the same action four years ago when he dismissed the Sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, for his actions surrounding the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

While he was Governor, Republican Rick Scott took a few dozen cases from the State Attorney in Orlando when she said she wouldn’t pursue the death penalty in the cases. But, Scott did not remove her from office.

Past removals differ in that there were ongoing cases that led to the decision, and in the case of the State Attorney in Orlando, she was not removed from her position. She was only removed from the cases.

So, what will happen next?

Related: What to Ask During a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

Where Does the Case Go From Here?

Before Warren’s lawsuit, it was up to the Florida Senate whether or not Warren’s dismissal would become permanent. The Florida Senate has the final say on a public official’s removal or reinstatement.

It is likely that the Republican-controlled Florida Senate would vote to agree with DeSantis’ removal of Warren. But, the lawsuit puts the process on pause.

A judge will now decide if Warren’s dismissal was unlawful. If the judge sides with Warren, he should be able to go back to work. If the judge sides with DeSantis, the final decision will go back to the Florida Senate.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

Do You Have a Legal Case to Discuss?

The law can be messy and complicated. If you are involved in a civil or criminal case, make sure you have an experienced attorney who can expertly guide you through the process. TJ Grimaldi is here to help. To discuss your case directly with TJ, schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Gabby Petito’s Parents File $50 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Utah Police

Gabby Petito’s parents can’t get criminal justice for their daughter. The man who admitted to murdering their daughter killed himself just weeks after Petito’s body was found. But, that hasn’t stopped Petito’s parents from seeking justice.

Petito’s parents recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Utah police for $50 million.

Why are Petito’s parents seeking justice in civil court, and do they have a case?

The Gabby Petito Criminal Case

In early September 2021, Gabby Petito, became national news when she went missing while on a months-long cross-country road trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. Laundrie returned to their home state of Florida without Petito and claimed he didn’t know where she was.

A few weeks later, Petito’s body was found at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Investigators said she was dead for at least three weeks and that her cause of death was homicide by manual strangulation.

Police had a suspect — Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie — but he was nowhere to be found.

After a lengthy search, Laundrie’s body was finally found in October 2021. Laundrie had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Florida’s Carlton Reserve. Near his body were journals in which he wrote that he had killed Petito.

Petito’s parents had proof Laundrie killed their daugher, but they had no way to seek justice in criminal courts since Laundrie had died.

Now, they are fighting for justice in civil court.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

The Gabby Petito Civil Case Against Utah Police

On August 8, 2022, Petito’s family sued for wrongful death. They filed a $50 million civil lawsuit against Utah police.

According to NBC News, the notice of intent was filed against Moab City Police Department, its then-Chief Bret Edge, exAssistant Chief Braydon Palmer, and Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins.

The lawsuit says Utah police failed to properly investigate a domestic violence incident involving Petito and Laundrie on August 12, 2021, about a month before Petito went missing.

On that day, police received a call about a domestic disturbance involving two people in a van. The caller said they saw “the gentleman slapping the girl” before the couple left in the van. Police found the van and pulled it over after an officer saw the vehicle cross the double yellow line and strike a curb. Body cam footage shows the police encounter.

Petito’s family believes police mishandled the situation and could have saved their daughter’s life if they had acted differently.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases Worth Fighting For

Why The $50 Million Civil Suit Against Utah Police?

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that police didn’t have the proper training and ability to classify the incident involving Petito and Laundrie, and if they had, they would have seen that Petito was in danger.

In body cam footage, Petito is visibly distraught. She told police she slapped Laundrie and then he grabbed her face. Yet, police failed to ask Laundrie about a scratch on Petito’s cheek, and no statement was taken from the caller who reportedly saw Laundrie strike Petito.

Lawyers representing Petito’s family also say they have a photo that hasn’t been released to the public that shows a close-up of Petitor’s face where “blood is smeared on her cheek and left eye.”

The family believes the evidence should have been enough for police to classify the incident as a domestic violence situation and recognize that Petito was in danger.

“The officers did not question Brian about the inconsistencies in his version of events. Instead, they determined that Gabby was the primary aggressor and that Brian was a potential victim of domestic violence,” the lawsuit says. Laundrie also told police he took Petito’s phone because he didn’t have one, and then he can be seen taking out his phone later while talking to police.

At the time, neither Petito nor Laundrie said they wanted to press charges. No charges were filed, and the police told the couple to separate for the night. Police classified the case as disorderly conduct, not domestic abuse.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

The Wrong Classification

Classifying the case as disorderly conduct instead of domestic abuse is the primary reason for the Petito family lawsuit.

If the incident had been categorized as domestic violence, it would have required officers to issue a citation or make an arrest. Police would have had to send their report to prosecutors. But, this didn’t happen. An officer wrote in a report, it appeared the incident was “more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”

The Petitos aren’t alone in their opinion that the case was handled improperly. A report conducted by Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department in Utah found that the officers misclassified the incident, according to NBC News.

It also seems that officers were unsure of what to do that day. One of the officers called Assistant Chief Palmer for assistance during the stop. The officer was told to read the statute carefully and make a decision.

Now, the court will decide whether or not Utah police are partially at fault for what happened to Petito. James McConkie, one of the attorneys retained in the case said, “Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequence, as it did in this case.”

(The Petitos have another pending civil case against Laundrie’s parents. It alleges that the Laundries hindered the police investigation into Petito’s disappearance.)

Related: Can Brian Laundrie’s Parents Get Into Legal Trouble in the Gabby Petito Case?

How to Seek Justice for a Love One

Petito’s parents are exercising their right to fight for justice for their daughter.

If you believe someone you love has experienced death or injury due to the negligence of another party, talk to a wrongful death attorney today. Explore your options for seeking justice. Talk to TJ Grimaldi about your case to see what you can do. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Parents Sue E-Bike Company After Death of Their 12-Year-Old Daughter

Bicycles and kids go hand-in-hand. We think of kids riding bikes as a typical childhood pastime. But does the same go for kids and e-bikes?

The family of Molly Steinsapir doesn’t think so.

The parents are suing an e-bike company after their daughter was tragically killed while riding one. What happened, and what message does the family want to send to the e-bike industry?

What Went Wrong on the E-Bike Ride?

On January 31, 2021, in Los Angeles, 12-year-old Molly Steinsapir and her friend, 11, decided to take an e-bike for a ride. The bike belonged to the friend’s 13-year-old sister. Details of a recent lawsuit shared by The New York Times explain what happened next.

The 11-year-old drove the bike while Molly sat on a rack that covered the bike’s back wheel. The two rode up a hill that would have been too steep and difficult for them to climb on a manual bike. The electric boost propelled them up the hill. The e-bike could go up to 20 miles per hour without being pedaled.

When they got to the top and turned to go down the hill, the e-bike “began to rapidly pick up speed, and it began shaking,” according to the lawsuit. The friend “applied the rear brake, but the bicycle did not slow. She then pulled the front brake, but the bike did not stop, and the front wheel began to wobble.”

Both girls were thrown from the bike. Molly was knocked unconscious and taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors found that she had sustained a traumatic brain injury.

From the hospital, Molly’s mother, Kaye Steinsapir, began sharing her daughter’s story. She wrote a post calling for support and continued to share updates over the next 16 days. As Molly underwent several brain surgeries, a community rallied around her and the hashtag #TeamMolly.

But Molly’s injuries were too serious to overcome, and Molly died on February 15, 2021.

Related: 6 of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About Personal Injury

Why Should the E-Bike Company Be Responsible?

Molly’s parents believe their daughter’s death should never have happened, and they want to prevent something similar from happening again.

On August 1, 2022, Molly’s parents, Kaye and Jonathan Steinsapir filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes, the manufacturer of the e-bike Molly was riding.

The Steinsapirs believe there are two primary reasons why the Seattle company should be held accountable. In the lawsuit, they allege that the bike was inappropriately marketed to kids and that a design flaw makes it inherently dangerous.

As reported by The New York Times, the lawsuit alleges that the company engaged in “inappropriate marketing of e-bikes to children,” and failed to “adequately warn about the dangers of children operating e-bikes.” The company’s website said some bikes were suitable for riders 4 feet 10 inches or taller and included photographs of children as passengers. Yet, the 57-page owner manual includes a warning on page 49 that says, “RadRunner is designed for use by persons 18 years old and older.”

The family also says flaws in bike design made it difficult for riders to slow down and stop. When going downhill, it is difficult to stop as the bike gains speed.

They hope the lawsuit will move the e-bike company to make changes.

What Are the Goals of the Lawsuit?

Molly’s parents have not requested a specific amount of damages in the lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes. They have asked for the jury to determine the amount of damages.

The Steinsapirs say their goal of the lawsuit is to make sure the tragic accident doesn’t happen again.

Since its founding in 2007, Rad Power Bikes has received more than $300 million in investment. The Steinsapirs want to make sure similar accidents don’t happen in the future.

“We want to better understand what happened, why, and how future tragedies like this can be avoided,” Mr. Steinsapir wrote in a letter that is included in the lawsuit.

Related: Personal Injury Compensation: What Can You Fight For?

Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

If the negligence of a person or company leads to injury or death, you can fight for justice. A wrongful death attorney can hold an at-fault party accountable for actions that led to serious injury or death.

Talk to an attorney about the details of your situation to find out if you have a case worth pursuing. TJ Grimaldi is an experienced attorney who can help you determine if you have a case worth fighting for. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Cable Company Ordered to Pay $7 Billion After Technician Kills Customer

One day after Betty Jo McClain Thomas had her fax machine serviced, the repairman returned. He wasn’t there on behalf of his employer Charter Communications, but he was driving his work truck.

Thomas let the repairman in, and he killed her.

Now, her family and the jury in the case want the cable company to pay for the horrible incident — to the sum of $7 billion.

What mistakes did the cable company make to lead to such a large payout?

A Criminal Conviction in the Murder of Betty Thomas

In December 2019, Betty Jo McClain Thomas was having trouble with her fax machine. She called Spectrum, which is owned by Charter Communications, to send a technician to her home in Dallas, Texas. A technician came to her home and seemed to have fixed the problem, but he showed up again the next day.

The technician, Roy James Holden Jr, was not on the clock, but he was driving his work vehicle. Thomas let him in the house. Holden then robbed and murdered the 83-year-old grandmother.

The details of Thomas’s death are not disputed.

As reported by USA Today, Thomas’s family went to check on her after she failed to show up to a Christmas and birthday dinner. They found her dead on the living room floor. Her Ring camera showed a Spectrum repairman as the last person to enter her home.

Holden pled guilty to the murder of Thomas and was sentenced to life in prison.

But, the family wanted more justice for Thomas. They didn’t want her case to be settled through the criminal courts alone, so they sued Charter in civil court.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case?

A Civil Case in the Murder of Betty Thomas

Thomas’s family sued for wrongful death in a civil case against Charter. They believe that Charter could have prevented Thomas’s death and allege that Charter’s negligence is what led to Thomas’s murder.

The family says Charter had multiple reasons to have stopped sending Holden on field calls. In fact, they believe Holden never should have been hired in the first place.

According to the family, Charter admitted that they didn’t verify Holden’s past employment. If they had checked into his references, they would have learned that he lied and Holden would have not been hired.

Court records also show that Holden had received multiple disciplinary actions from Charter. The actions were a result of taking pictures of the driver’s licenses and credit cards of two elderly female customers. Charter also had records that showed signs of Holden’s instability. He asked his manager for money and had requested mental health intervention from Charter’s employee assistance program.

The civil case went to trial, and the jury decided to hold Charter accountable in the case. In June 2022, the jury awarded $337.5 million in compensatory damages to Thomas’s family, and they didn’t stop there.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases Worth Fighting For

What Led to $7 Billion in Punitive Damages?

A few months after the jury awarded $337.5 million in compensatory damages, they awarded an additional $7 billion in punitive damages.

The murder took place in Texas and is being litigated under Texas law. In Texas, punitive damages are also known as exemplary damages, and they are defined by Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §40.011(5). Punitive damages are often intended to penalize or punish the party at fault in a civil suit. They may be used as a deterrent to prevent future bad behavior.

The high award could be a reaction to some of the dubious behavior committed by Charter that was exposed during the trial.

Details emerged that Charter sent an overdue bill for $58.94 to Thomas to charge for Holden’s service call. The bill was then sent to a collection agency, according to USA Today.

Attorneys representing Thomas’s family also showed evidence that Charter tried to force the family into arbitration. They tried to prove that Thomas had agreed to terms of service which included an arbitration agreement. But their evidence was disproved.

They claimed Thomas checked a box online agreeing to the terms, but it was proven that she paid her bill online. They also claimed Thomas signed a work order agreeing to the terms, but it was proven to be a forged document.

If the family would have been forced into arbitration, the settlement would have been the equivalent of Thomas’s final bill, which was about $200.

Charter plans to appeal the verdict.

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: Do You Have a Claim?

Get Justice for Your Loved Ones

If the negligence of a company or person caused harm to one of your loved ones, you can hold the at-fault party accountable. Talk to a wrongful death attorney about how you can seek justice for your loved one. TJ Grimaldi is ready to fight for you and your family.

Schedule a call today to discuss your personal injury or wrongful death case and see how TJ can help. Talk directly with TJ. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation today.

What’s the Future for Miranda Rights After Supreme Court Decision?

Lately, all eyes have been on the Supreme Court as they have released recent decisions on everything from abortion to school funding to the government’s control over environmental issues.

As it relates to the law, one case in particular has gained attention.

A ruling regarding Miranda Rights has implications for anyone arrested for a crime. What did the ruling say? And, what does it mean for both police and the public?

What Are Miranda Rights?

You have the right to remain silent.

The statement above is the beginning of what is referred to as Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights are a statement said by police to someone immediately after they have been arrested for a crime. While the wording doesn’t need to be exact, the statement must touch on four points.

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you.
  • You have the right to an attorney
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be assigned to you.

Miranda Rights were created in 1966 as a result of the Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The statement was created to protect a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights, which protects a person from self-incrimination.

If police fail to issue Miranda Rights, the statements made by an arrestee after the arrest may not be able to be used in court (although there are some exceptions). Recently the Supreme Court issued a ruling on what else happens — or doesn’t happen — if police fail to issue Miranda Rights.

What Was the Supreme Court’s Ruling?

The recent Supreme Court case wasn’t related to whether or not police must issue Miranda Rights. It had to do with an arrestee’s right to sue if their Miranda Rights weren’t issued at the time of the arrest.

A federal law allows people to sue government offices for violating their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court case looked at whether failing to read Miranda Rights was a violation of a civil right. The Court found that it wasn’t.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said failing to read Miranda Rights was not a violation of civil rights, and it shielded police from being sued if they failed to issue Miranda Rights.

The Supreme Court did not say that police are no longer required to issue Miranda Rights. Even after the Court’s ruling, police are still legally required to issue Miranda Rights.

So, what does the ruling mean for law enforcement and the public?

Related: Find The Best Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

What Does the Ruling Mean for Law Enforcement?

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter, and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway gave statements to the Tampa Bay Times indicating that they don’t believe the ruling will have much bearing on the way their officers conduct arrests.

According to their statements, police still have a major incentive to issue Miranda Rights.

If police fail to issue Miranda Rights, they cannot use evidence collected from statements made by the arrestee. Law enforcement officials say officers are inclined to collect as much admissible evidence as possible, so they will read Miranda Rights to ensure that they can collect and use evidence.

“If the officer wants to make sure that he or she has a strong case against the person they just arrested, then they need to read Miranda,” said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What Does the Ruling Mean for the Public?

While many law enforcement officials believe the Supreme Court ruling should have no bearing on fair arrest processes, some civil rights advocates and legal experts have concerns.

Judith Scully, a criminal law professor at the Stetson University College of Law says, “They [the Supreme Court] recognize the police officers’ conduct as being unethical, perhaps even unacceptable, but they are not willing to say that it’s unconstitutional. They draw a distinction between ethics, acceptability, and constitutionality.”

Concerns are that the new ruling decreases the accountability of police officers. It’s unlikely that law enforcement departments will discipline officers for failing to read Miranda Rights, and now, there is no civil recourse either.

For the public, it’s more important than ever to know your rights. Even if you aren’t read your Miranda Rights, you should know that protections still exist. If you find that your rights were violated, get good legal representation to ensure that you can dismiss any evidence that was collected unlawfully.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Talk To a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are arrested for a crime, you have rights. Make sure you know your rights and that you have a criminal defense attorney by your side who will fight for your rights. If you have been arrested for a crime and need expert legal counsel, talk to TJ Grimaldi today.

TJ is committed to fighting for his clients and getting them the most fair and just outcomes possible. Talk to TJ about the details of your case today. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation to schedule a time to talk and make a legal plan for your case.