Lawsuit filed over officer-involved ATV crash

Rep for law firm: Victim has brain injury

Published On: Oct 12 2011 04:14:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 28 2011 01:15:01 PM EDT
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -

The family of a woman injured when a Miami Beach police officer hit her and a friend with an ATV earlier this month filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Thursday.

A representative of the Toral Garcia Battista law firm said Wednesday that Kitzie Nicanor, 29, is in very serious condition with a severe brain injury after the July 3 incident.

Miami Beach police said Derick Kuilan, an officer at the time, was driving an ATV with a female passenger when the vehicle hit Nicanor and her friend, Luis Altamonte, on the beach. Altamonte suffered a broken leg. Nicanor was in a coma after the crash, but although she has awoken, she remains hospitalized.

Nicanor lay curled up in her hospital bed Thursday. Although she shared a faint smile for TV news cameras, her pain is severe. Her traumatic brain injury has left part of her body paralyzed, and she faces serious surgical orthopedic issues.

"This needless and senseless accident could have been prevented if they policed their own," Frank Toral, Nicanor's attorney, told Local 10.

Kuilan and another officer, Rolando Gutierrez, lost their jobs after the incident. Investigators said the pair was seen in a photo, wearing their police uniforms, with members of a bachelorette party at The Clevelander on South Beach before the crash. Police said Kuilan's blood alcohol level tested at 0.088 percent, which is above the legal limit, more than five hours after the crash.

Kuilan turned himself in Tuesday on charges of reckless driving and driving under the influence.

The representative of the law firm representing Nicanor's family said she has a 1-year-old son and will need around-the-clock medical attention for the rest of her life.

The filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Thursday against Kuilan and The Clevelander to cover her medical expenses. A suit will be filed against the Miami Beach Police Department after a six-month waiting period.

While the officers face a list of legal troubles, so does the bar that served the drinks. Nicanor's attorney claims workers at The Clevelander regularly served a number of alcoholic drinks to Kuilan. They were familiar with his drinking habits. They also served free alcohol to the officer and used nonalcoholic beverage containers to conceal the alcohol, the attorney said. He said the bar also provided a place for the officer to drink freely while he was on duty in uniform.

For now, it is unclear how much the family is suing for, but medical bills could add up to millions because of Nicanor's severe brain injury.