A judge has ruled that a civil wrongful death case against a major polo mogul can proceed even while the DUI manslaughter case against the defendant remains ongoing. Judge Glenn Kelly denied a motion by club owner John Goodman to put the wrongful death case on hold while the criminal case regarding the crash that killed 23-year-old engineer Scott Wilson was resolved.
Palm Beach County sheriff’s reports state that around 1 a.m. on Feb. 12, Goodman was traveling south on 120th avenue and ran a stop sign. He hit Scott Wilson as he ran the sign, which threw Wilson into a nearby canal, and the young man sadly drowned. Goodman was tested three hours after the collision, and his blood alcohol content registered at .177 percent. This is far more than twice the legal limit for intoxication while driving in Florida, which turned the case immediately into a DUI manslaughter investigation. Goodman also has been charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crime.
The motion to postpone the wrongful death case was based on Goodman’s Fifth Amendment rights. His attorney argued that if the civil case proceeded first, Goodman would have to choose between testifying and possibly incriminating himself with statements that could be used in the criminal case, or staying quiet and possibly compromising his civil case standing. The judge rejected this argument for the time being, given that the Wilsons’ attorney cited several cases in which the civil trial had taken place before a criminal one. The judge did rule that attorneys could argue again for the case in January at the criminal proceeding’s next hearing.
Goodman faces up to 30 years in prison on the criminal charges filed against him, and the civil case is estimated to involve approximately $100 million. The civil case is scheduled to begin in May, pending any additional review at the January hearing.