Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Help Me Howard: Good Samaritan
He witnessed a crash and stopped to help a motorcyclist in need. Now, years later, that crash victim is suing him. It's tonight's edition of Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Tom Johnson is a great guy with a lot of good friends.
Tom Johnson, Good Samaritan Sued: "A lot of friends on the block, yeah, we have a good time.
Tom is nice and helpful. Now lets back up four years to see what that got him...
Tom Johnson: "We were on our way home."
Tom says a guy on a motorcycle passed him on West Sample Road.
Tom Johnson: "And I was probably a couple hundred yards behind him."
Tom says suddenly the motorcycle rider hit the median and a crash into a sign.
Tom Johnson: "I pulled over and got out to help him."
Tom sat with the motorcycle rider waiting for the paramedics to arrive and listened as the fellow explained why he crashed.
Tom Johnson: "He told me that he was new to Florida and thought that he was in the left turn lane and obviously realized that he was not there and went over the medium strip and then hit the sign."
Tom then went home, glad he could be a good Samaritan stopping to care for someone in an accident.
Now lets move forward four years to Tom's reward- the motorcycle rider is suing him.
Tom Johnson: "The lawsuit says that I was in the center lane weaving to the left and to the right and thereby causing him to go into the median and up over the curb."
The motorcycle rider named Gerald Gannon is suing Tom for thousands for running him off the road and forcing him to crash.
The same Gerald Gannon, who told a police officer who investigated the accident that night, that he "allowed his motorcycle drift carelessly to the left and struck the median with his front tire."
The officer wrote that night in 2008 that Gannon was not wearing a helmet and had minor lacerations.
Now his attorney, Arvid Peterson says Gannon has pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money, and on and on.
Tom Johnson: "I was outraged. I was absolutely outraged."
Tom says he was simply being a good Samaritan who pulled up to help Gerald Gannon, a good Samaritan now being sued.
Tom Johnson: "Good Samaritan. It doesn't pay to be a good Samaritan anymore."
Well Howard you are a lawyer. Got a legal opinion of what is happening to the man who was a good Samaritan that night?
Howard Finkelstein: "There is a law called The Good Samaritan law that provides immunity, meaning you cannot be sued if you try to save someone's life and fail. In this case, Tom did a nice thing, just stopping to help the rider so technically he's not covered by the good Samaritan law and can be sued. But odds are Tom will win."
Finally some good news for Tom. His insurance company, State Farm, has hired an attorney to defend him. The attorney told us the lawsuit was ludicrous and after talking to Tom he feels confident they will win the case.
We could not locate Gerald Gannon, the man suing Tom. His attorney, Arvid Peterson, did not return any of our phone calls.
Howard Finkelstein: "If Tom considers this a frivolous or false lawsuit, if it's thrown out, he can sue the motorcycle rider for what the law calls malicious prosecution. And if he can show that the lawsuit is baseless and the attorney for the motorcycle should have known he can sue the attorney as well."
Tom is glad his insurance company is going to pay for his defense and sent them a note asking that they not cave in and pay Gannon to go away.
Tom Johnson: "Stating I was a witness in bold capital letters exclamation point exclamation point. This is total BS. Do not pay."
Patrick Fraser: "Tom hasn't decided if he will countersue. Howard says if he does and wins not only will they have to pay his attorney, he could get money for anything this lawsuit cost him, including payment for the time he lost fighting the suit."
Troubles got you fearing a crash? Need someone to pull up and help you? Contact us. We know you won't sue us and you can be sure, we will try to help you.
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