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Parents sue for son’s death in “Big Cypress” incident

Teenager Daniel Huerta and driver Johnson Atilard were killed when Atilard drove a juvenile justice program vehicle off a Florida road into a canal. At the time, Atilard was transporting a group of teens back to the Big Cypress Wilderness Institute, a behavioral camp for at-risk youth.

Now Huerta’s parents, José and Anita Huerta, are suing Atilard’s estate and the Big Cypress Institute for their son’s death. They claim Atilard had a long record of driving violations, which included tickets for speeding, running a red light, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving an unsafe vehicle and leaving the scene of a crash. His license had been suspended six times before the accident.

The lawsuit alleges the Institute shares responsibility for the accident for hiring Atilard and allowing him to drive the program vehicle despite his bad driving record. According to Stephen Schwed, the Huertas’ attorney, the “liability issues rise to the level of recklessness and carelessness that result in punitive damages.” Punitive damages are large sums that are awarded to punish wrongdoing and deter others from similar bad conduct.

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