FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A jury has awarded a $250,000 civil judgment to a North Carolina woman, years after she was run over by a Fort Lauderdale Beach patrol vehicle while sunbathing on the beach.
After lawyers made their final statements Thursday afternoon, the jury deliberated for over three hours before reaching their decision at around 8 p.m.
Earlier in the day, 49-year-old Rinda Mizelle took the stand and described the incident that took place while she was vacationing in South Florida in 2012. She said she was lying on the sand with her shorts covering her face before a lifeguard in a patrol vehicle drove over her.
After she was run over, her attorneys said, Mizelle was trapped under the vehicle.
“[The lifeguard is] crying because he has to wash the sand out of my open wounds, and it’s killing me, but he has to do it,” she said.
Mizelle also showed the jury her scars. To this day, she said, she can’t look at the pictures of her injuries.
“I just don’t want to. I mean, there’s so much to that,” she said.
Mizelle said she suffered permanent damage as a result of the accident, and she is in constant pain.
Her attorneys suggest that the jury award their client around $1 million, but they decided on a quarter of that.
“By your verdict, you decide the amount,” said attorney John Phillips, “so whether I say a number that, ‘Oh, that’s not what I think,’ collectively, you all come up with a number.”
But while the city has accepted responsibility for the incident, officials had noted Mizelle still has full range of motion, and she has no scars from the incident. They indicated they did not want to pay the sum her attorneys had asked for.
“Justice is not the pursuit of money in the courtroom,” said attorney Jeffery Lawley. “No, justice is the fair application and administration of the law.”
An expert witness who took the stand mostly sided with the city. However, Mizelle’s own doctor said she continues to suffer.
Mizelle claimed the tires ran over her, but the city said they never made contact with her body, something paramedics at the scene documented.
“The SUV undercarriage was what caused the abrasions to the patient,” said responding paramedic Jorge Aguiar.
However, Mizelle said she needs shots to deal with the discomfort from her injuries, and the shots themselves are painful.
“It’s a shooting pain. They have to, they put the needle in three times,” she said. “They put it in, and they shoot some of that cortisone lava, and you can see it on the screen, and then they take the needle out, and they put it in again, and then they take it out, and they put it in again. I don’t know why it hurts but the cortisone itself, as it’s shooting through you.”
City officials had offered Phillips $40,000 to his client over the past several years before increasing that settlement to $100,000 last week.
The trial started on Monday.
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