Retrial of Beaumont officer’s auto collision ends with $45K verdict

David Yates Jan. 17, 2013, 12:52pm

For the second time, a jury found that a local officer was negligent in causing an automobile collision, levying a $45,000 verdict against the city of Beaumont. 

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, on June 21, 2010, 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 in 2009, 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 first trial ended with a $155,000 jury verdict, but was overturned on the grounds that some evidence and testimony should never have been allowed to influence the jury.

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

This time around, on Monday, Jan. 14 the jury found Carmouche 60 percent negligent in causing the incident, finding that he was not reacting to an emergency situation and therefore required to use his patrol car’s audible and visual warning systems.

According to the court’s charge to the jury, Macy was awarded $25,000 for her medical expenses, $10,000 for her mental anguish and another $10,000 for her impairment.

During closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Tommy Yeates said his clients brought this lawsuit because “it was the right thing to do.”

The retrial of the case began Jan. 7.

According to court records and testimony, the incident occurred on May 23, 2008. Macy Brocato 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.

During the first trial, Carmouche testified that he spotted Macy Brocato’s vehicle, but did not slow down because he expected her to see his headlights.

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

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

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