Posted on Jun 18, 2006
Drunk driving victim's family gets $28 million
The Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO -- A jury awarded $28.2 million to the family of a man who was fatally struck outside his home by a drunken driver.
Bexar County jurors found Monte James Cooper, 58, liable in the 2004 death of Edward Souza. They deliberated for two days before reaching the decision Friday.
Cooper had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when his pickup hit Souza and his wife as they were about to get into their car. The 33-year-old victim was pinned between the two vehicles and dragged to his death. His wife, Aleshia, suffered a broken neck and pelvis.
Cooper pleaded no contest to intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 10 years probation.
The jury Friday included $1 million in punitive damages in the verdict.
"This jury sent a message to Mr. Cooper and others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated," said attorney Tom Crosley, who represented the Souza family. "We hope that this verdict will raise awareness about the dangers of driving while intoxicated and the devastation it can cause."