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Cape couple awarded $2.7 million by jury

By Staff | Feb 15, 2012

A Cape Coral couple was awarded more than $2.7 million in damages in connection to a 2009 auto accident in which the husband was injured.

On Friday, after a four-day trial in civil court, a Lee County jury awarded $2,703,000 in total to Jiri and Marie Renotiere as a result of the crash.

Jiri Renotiere received $1 million for past and future medical expenses, $1 million for past and future pain and suffering, and $3,000 for lost property. His wife was given $700,000 for the past and future loss of his services.

The Renotieres could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Personal injury attorney Randall Spivey represented them in the case.

“Both myself and Mr. and Mrs. Renotiere are very happy with the jury’s verdict,” he said Tuesday. “We feel that the jury was very fair and did the right thing because the accident would not have happened if the defendant had not driven carelessly.”

In May 2009, Renotiere was riding in a vehicle traveling north on Highway 17 in Arcadia when the driver, Waldemar Baranowski, lost control. The vehicle crashed through the road guardrail and into an embankment.

Witnesses reportedly said Baranowski was speeding on wet roads.

Both men – neither was wearing a seat belt – were ejected from the vehicle. It eventually caught on fire and became engulfed in flames.

“The defendant denied responsibility for the accident, even though the reason that the vehicle crashed was because he was speeding on wet roads on a curve and reached for his cell phone,” Spivey said.

Though he was ejected, Renotiere was lying in the ditch and he sustained third-degree burns to parts of the left side of his body, including his chest, arm, shoulder and foot. He also fractured his face and his shoulder blade.

Renotiere underwent skin grafting procedures and he spent four weeks at Tampa General Hospital, followed by three months of rehabilitation. The burns to Renotiere’s shoulder and foot left him with significant problems.

“We are very pleased with the amount of the award,” Spivey said. “Most importantly, it will help Mr. Renotiere get the treatment and rehabilitation that he needs but had been unable to afford.”

He noted that Baranowski’s attorney, Kenneth Oliver, recommended to the jurors that they award Renotiere and his wife less than $100,000 total.

Oliver did not return a message seeking comment.

“They (the defendant and his attorney) tried to put all the blame on Mr. Renotiere for the accident, but the seat belt law is not designed to shift for the cause of the accident to the victim,” Spivey said.

“The jury found the defendant 100 percent at fault,” he added.

Baranowski could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The jury was made up of four men and two women.