Florida Verdicts

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Ex-girlfriend helped man carry out killing of wife, family argued

Amount:

$44,000,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Florida

Venue:

Miami-Dade County

Court:

Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, 11th

Injury Type(s):

head-blunt force trauma to the head; other-death; other-loss of society; mental/psychological-emotional distress

Case Type:

Insurance – Fraud; Wrongful Death

Case Name:

Myriam Benitez, as heir and personal representative of the Estate of Wendy Marie Trapaga v. Yolanda Cerrillo,
No. 2005-18414-CA-01

Date:

September 4, 2013

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Myriam Benitez (Female), 

Estate of Wendy Marie Trapaga (Female, 21 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Jorge C. Borron;
Law Office of Jorge Celestino Borron;
Miami,
FL,
for
Myriam Benitez, Estate of Wendy Marie Trapaga

Defendant(s):

Yolanda Cerrillo

Defense Attorney(s):

None reported;

for
Yolanda Cerrillo

Facts:

In October 2002, plaintiff’s decedent Wendy Marie Trapaga, 21, was killed in Miami Springs. In 2005, police charged her husband, Michel Escoto, with murder. Myriam Benitez, as heir and as personal representative of the estate of her daughter, sued Yolanda Cerrillo, the ex-girlfriend of Escoto, for wrongful death. The estate’s counsel claimed that Trapaga‘s family had suspected that Cerrillo helped Escoto carry out the killing as part of a scheme to collect a $1 million insurance policy he had on Trapaga. Prosecutors gave Cerrillo immunity in exchange for details against Escoto. The estate’s counsel claimed that Cerrillo admitted to prosecutors that she helped Escoto crush narcotic pain reliever pills into powder to knock out Trapaga before he beat her to death. Counsel also claimed that Cerrillo admitted she allowed Escoto to dunk her head into a bathtub to practice how to drown Trapaga. In 2012, a Miami-Dade judge found Cerrillo liable for Trapaga‘s death. A trial proceeded on damages.

Injury:

Benitez sought to recover compensatory and punitive damages for pain and suffering and loss of societyresulting from Trapaga‘s death.

Result:

The jury determined that the estate’s damages totaled $44 million, which included $33 million in punitive damages.

Estate of Wendy Marie Trapaga $33,000,000 Personal Injury: Punitive Exemplary Damages; $11,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory

Trial Information:

Judge:

David C. Miller

Trial Length:

2
 days

Trial Deliberations:

4
 hours

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. The defendant was not asked to contribute.