By reader acclaim: DUI manslaughter driver sues victim

by Walter Olson on January 18, 2012

“David Belniak had drugs in his system and never braked when he slammed into the back of a family’s car stopped at a red light on Christmas Day 2007. Three people died.” Now, represented by his sister, attorney Debra Tuomey, Belniak is suing the driver of the car he slammed into. [Tampa Bay Times, Tuomey's JD Supra site]

{ 11 comments }

1 marco73 01.18.12 at 9:29 am

If I’m ever in trouble with the law, I want to be represented by Debra. Somehow she spells her law school and cume (sic) laude incorrectly.
We don’t call it Floriduh for nuthin.

2 ps 01.18.12 at 9:41 am

the magnitude of this individual’s horse’s assedness knows no bounds and neither, it seems, does his sister’s. What they do need is a massive sanction for filing a frivolous suit and for giving stupidity a bad name.

3 kimsch 01.18.12 at 3:33 pm

As the victims’ car was stopped at a red light I’m surprised that the plaintiff in this case and his sister haven’t sued the local governmental agency in charge of the traffic lights. Heck, if the light hadn’t been red, the victims wouldn’t have been stopped there and he would have made it through the intersection at his 70-80 mph rate of travel.

4 OBQuiet 01.18.12 at 5:16 pm

Takes a certain kind of person to make this big an fool of themselves.

I’m No lawyer, but why not add a nice perjury charge as soon as he claims he lied in that Guilty plea? Probably can’t but it would be nice.

But it should ad least make things easier when he testifies:
Attny: So Mister Belniak, you claim that despite your guilty plea, You we not at fault for the accident.
DB: That is correct.
Attny: So you lied to the court at your trial. Is that correct?
DB: I had to. They were trying to railroad me. It was the only way I could be sure I would ever be free.
Attny: I see. You lied because it was in your own best interests. You stand to profit from this current suit, don’t you?
DB: Yes.
Attny: So it is in your own best interest to claim you are not at fault now, regardless of whether that is true or not, isn’t it?
DB: Yes but I am not lying now.
Attny: I see, you admit to lying before. How are we to decide if you are perjuring yourself now or at you last trial? Help me here. It is clearly not possible that your statement then and now are both truthful. At least one was a lie. Could both be lies? I am not sure what to think. All I know is that you are a liar.

5 Smart Dude 01.18.12 at 6:33 pm

The vicious inprisoned felon and his delightful sister are living, breathing poster children for Loser Pays.

6 Robert Swirsky 01.18.12 at 9:08 pm

If I’ve learned anything from Judge Judy it’s this: once you’re found guilty in a criminal proceeding where there’s a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, don’t expect to attempt to arrive at a different outcome in a civil proceeding when there’s just a “preponderance of evidence” standard. I think the only thing he’ll get out if this is some publicity.

7 Jack Olson 01.19.12 at 1:01 pm

Smart Dude, the vicious imprisoned felon is most likely judgement-proof. I approve of “loser pays” and it seems to work well enough in the rest of the world. But, what do they do when the loser has nothing to pay with?

8 Black Death 01.19.12 at 1:06 pm

“But, what do they do when the loser has nothing to pay with?”

Get his attorney to pa. After all, she’s as complicit in this as he is.

9 David Smith 01.19.12 at 10:25 pm

Jack Olson,

In England (which has “loser pays”) it is the losing ATTORNEY that is liable for court, defendant, costs, etc.

However, the judge is allowed to set this aside. If the judge believes it was a legit matter of contention, and no one was being frivolous, he can let the loser off the hook (have no idea how often that happens).

10 Bumper 01.19.12 at 11:18 pm

The article mentions that the perp was an officer of the family business, makes me wonder if the vehicle he was driving was owned/leased by the company and this is suit is just an attempt to keep the families of the victims from getting to the company coffers.

11 Thom 02.09.12 at 9:14 am

@Robert Swersky
What you describe is called “collateral estoppel”. I think it applies in plea cases as well as straight convictions, if you plead guilty rather than pleading “no contest”. It probably applies here. If so, this case gets kicked on summary judgement. Hopefully with costs and attorneys’ fees awarded against the sister/lawyer.

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