MIAMI (June 28, 2000) — The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson today announced that the Third District Court of Appeal issued an opinion stating that Eller Media Company, ClearChannel Communications, Inc. and Victor Garcia, defendants in the civil wrongful death case filed by the parents of Jorge Cabrera, Jr., must answer discovery requests.
After commencement of the civil case, in April 1999, the State of Florida charged Eller Media, Victor Garcia and Frederick Neville, another Eller Media employee who is not a party to the civil suit, with criminal manslaughter by culpable negligence resulting in the death of Jorge Cabrera, Jr., the boy electrocuted at an Eller Media bus shelter on October 12, 1998.
“Today’s decision is important because it will allow us to proceed with the civil case expeditiously,” stated Marc Cooper, who handled the appeal for the parents, formerly of Cooper & Wolfe, P.A., and now with Colson Hicks Eidson. “The court made clear that Eller Media and ClearChannel cannot hide behind the Fifth Amendment privilege of its employees, but instead must, like every civil litigant, respond to appropriate discovery so we can get at the core of their wrongdoing.”
Jorge Cabrera’s parents have attempted from the outset of the civil case to get discovery from Eller Media, ClearChannel Communications and Victor Garcia—the Eller Media employee who installed the electrical components at the bus-shelter.
“The family has patiently endured the civil judicial process and is anxious to hear from Eller Media an explanation for what happened to their twelve-year-old son,” added Robert H. Fernandez, of Colson Hicks Eidson and counsel for the boy’s father.
After being denied by Circuit Court Judge Jon Gordon earlier this year, the defendants requested from the state appellate court that the civil case be put on hold since the criminal case is still pending, but the request was denied.
The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed Judge Gordon’s original order denying defendants’ motions to stay and stated that the motions were premature because Eller Media’s employees, including Victor Garcia, had not yet specifically asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege and there was no showing in the record that Eller Media’s or ClearChannel’s material witnesses were unavailable or that they could not otherwise present an adequate defense.
As a result, Eller Media and its parent company ClearChannel Communications, Inc., cannot delay discovery any longer and must make its employees available for depositions and must answer written questions submitted by the boy’s parents in the civil case.