City of Beaumont wants new trial in officer's auto collision case

David Yates Aug. 31, 2010, 6:00am

Hit with a jury verdict of more than $155,000 earlier this summer, the city of Beaumont filed a motion for a new trial on Aug. 27, arguing that some evidence and testimony should never have been allowed to influence the jury.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, on June 21 a Jefferson County jury ruled Beaumont Police Officer Lance Carmouche negligently caused a head-on collision with teenage motorist Macy Brocato in March 2008.

Macy's parents, Jay and Valerie Brocato, sued the city one year later, alleging Officer Carmouche was weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed without his audible and visual warning systems when he struck Macy head on.

The jury, tasked to decide who was more negligent in causing the collision, found in favor of Macy, assigning 80 percent of the blame to Carmouche.

Carmouche testified during the trial that he was "probably" going 75 miles per hour -- 15 mph over the speed limit -- when he slammed into Macy's car.

Evidence showed his police cruiser's Global Positioning System showed him speeding at 81 mph prior to the impact.

However, in its motion the city argues Carmouche's alleged speed "was not relevant and should not have been admitted at trial" because "the speed limit does not apply to a police patrol," according to the Texas Transportation Code.

The city also contends that throughout the trial the plaintiffs accused BPD Officer Dunahoe, who filled out the incident report, of skewing his report in favor of Carmouche in order "to circle the wagons" and protect him.

"Obviously, completing the report did not cause the accident," the city's motion states.
"Likewise, a conspiracy to complete the report incorrectly, as argued by plaintiffs, does not involve the use of real or personal property. Finally, as the speed limit does not apply to a patrol car, Officer Carmouche was complying with ... state law."

According to court records and testimony, the incident occurred on May 23, 2008. Macy was traveling southbound on Major Drive and was in the process of making a left-hand turn onto Westfield Lane when she collided with Carmouche, who was on his way to assist a fellow officer.

While testifying, Carmouche said he spotted Macy's vehicle, but did not slow down because he expected her to see his headlights.

Jurors awarded Macy $155,348.33, which included $25,000 for future medical expenses, $87,500 for her past and future mental anguish, and $36,000 for her physical impairment. Jurors also awarded Macy's parents, Jay and Valerie, $6,848.33 to compensate them for their daughter's past medical expenses.

The city argues that the plaintiffs did not provide proof to support the award of $25,000 for future medical expenses.

The Brocato family is represented by Tommy Yeates, an attorney for the Beaumont law firm Moore Landrey.

The city is represented by Senior Assistant City Attorney Quentin Price.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, is presiding over the litigation.

Case No. D182-752

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