Florida firefighter's widow wins $9 million verdict in pizza delivery death
Domino's Pizza plans to appeal
By Rick Neale
August 07, 2019
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - In January 2011, retired Brevard County Fire Rescue District Chief Richard Wiederhold swerved to avoid a collision when a Domino's Pizza delivery driver turned in front of him on State Road 50 in Christmas.
Wiederhold's Toyota Tacoma overturned on the highway — rendering him a quadriplegic with a fractured spine, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
He died from medical complications 15 months later. After a lengthy legal battle, an Orange County jury awarded his widow, Yvonne, a $9 million verdict in mid-June.
The court case continues. Last week, Circuit Judge Renee Roche denied a request for a new trial by attorneys representing Domino's Pizza. The company is preparing to appeal the $9 million judgment, said Yvonne Widerhold's attorney, Mark Avera, a partner with the Gainesville law firm Avera and Smith.
"He was dependent upon a ventilator to breathe. Being rendered a quadriplegic when you're in your retirement and in your twilight years, enjoying life. ... I have represented clients such as Rich over the years — and to describe it as catastrophic is really inadequate," Avera said.
"To go from being able to do anything he wanted to do — flying planes, running marathons as a younger gentleman, hike, camp, enjoy his life with his fiancée, Yvonne — and to go to being bed-bound and be totally dependent on others," he said.
Wiederhold served with Brevard County Fire Rescue from 1988 to 2005, retiring as a district chief overseeing nine fire stations across the southern part of the county. He was one of six finalists in the city of Cocoa's 2007 fire chief job search.
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