By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A Connecticut jury awarded more than $16 million Tuesday to a Bridgeport man who lost his leg when he was struck by a state police cruiser almost three years ago.
The Superior Court jury in Bridgeport awarded Melvin Gordils $16.25 million, a sum his attorneys described as the highest verdict against the state.
In awarding $25 million, the jury found Gordils 35 percent responsible for the accident and the trooper 65 percent responsible, according to Gordils’ attorneys, Joel T. Faxon and Michael A. Stratton.
Gordils, 48, who owns a restaurant, ran out of gas at night on the Route 25/8 connector in May 2010. He was walking across the highway around 2:30 a.m. when he was struck by Trooper Darren Pavlik’s cruiser. The impact completely severed Gordils’ right leg. He also suffered a crushed pelvis and arm injuries, his attorneys said.
Gordils’ attorneys said the trooper was driving more than 100 mph without his lights or sirens on when the cruiser hit Gordils. They claim the trooper began interrogating Gordils in the street, rather than administer first aid.
“It was the worst case of a selfish uncaring defendant that I’ve ever seen in my career,” Faxon said. “You would be more compassionate to an animal that you just hit than this police officer was to Melvin Gordils.”
The state’s lawyer argued Gordils failed to look for traffic while crossing the highway. The defense also said a test showed Gordils had a blood-alcohol level of .24, triple the legal driving limit, the Connecticut Post reported.
Pavlik testified he was trying to catch a speeding car when he struck Gordils, the paper reported.
A message left for James Coyne, an attorney for the state, was not immediately returned. A state police spokesman also did not immediately return a message Tuesday.
Gordils’ lawyers said his medical expenses and lost wages amounted to more than $8 million dollars.