Florida Injury Lawsuit: Man Adopts Girlfriend to Avoid Liability

by Carmen Dellutri on February 16, 2012

Sarasota car accident attorneyAs Cape Coral injury attorneys, we have seen defendants go to some great lengths to avoid liability, but the actions of polo club founder John Goodman are unprecedented and outrageous.

Goodman, facing a wrongful death lawsuit, has adopted his longtime adult girlfriend as his legal daughter in an attempt to shield his assets from the parents of a Wellington man killed in a tragic car accident. According to police reports, Goodman was drunk when he ran a stop sign on Feb. 12, 2010 and struck 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson.

Goodman legally adopted 42-year-old Heather Laruso Hutchins, as his daughter on Oct. 13 in Miami-Dade County, according to court documents.

"The events which serve as the grounds for the relief sought by the Plaintiffs border on the surreal and take the Court into a legal twilight zone," wrote Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley in an order granting attorneys for Lili and William Wilson the right to information concerning the adoption.

As reported by the Palm Beach Post, Kelley had previously ruled that the trust set up for Goodman's two minor children could not be considered as part of Goodman's assets if a jury awarded damages in the wrongful death action.

Now, according to the adoption papers, Hutchins is immediately entitled to at least a third of the trust's assets as his legal daughter since she is over the age of 35. Thankfully, this is not something the court plans to overlook.

"The Court cannot ignore reality or the practical impact of what Mr. Goodman has now done," Kelley wrote. "The Defendant has effectively diverted a significant portion of the assets of the children's trust to a person with whom he is intimately involved at a time when his personal assets are largely at risk in this case."

According to police, Goodman had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident. He faces a criminal trial on March 6 on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of a crash and could face up to 30 years in prison. Meanwhile, the civil trial is scheduled for March 27.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Florida car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys for a free consultation. 

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