There is a highly disturbing story out of Florida where Kayla Mendoza, who describes herself as the “pothead princess” and seems to tweet only about being high or drunk, allegedly killed two women by driving the wrong way on a highway. Shortly before the accident, Mendoza tweeted “2 drunk 2 care.”
Mendoza rammed her Hyundai Sonata into the 2012 Toyota Camry of Marisa Catronio who was pronounced dead at the scene and her passenger, Kaitlyn Ferrante, who died later. Mendoza survived with serious injuries.
The tweets discussing being high all of the time as well as posted pictures of drugs reveals a 20-year-old woman who appears to have the maturity of a pre-teen. She is obsessed with showing other people that she is high or drunk. She also has created an ideal case of vehicular manslaughter, though she has not been charged.
There is also the obvious basis for tort liability for battery and negligence, though the “pothead princess” is an unlikely source for damages. Nevertheless, such damages cannot be set aside in bankruptcy and allows a family to garnish her wages for the rest of her days — forcing a monthly reminder of the costs of her reckless lifestyle on two families who will never see their loved ones again.
782.071 Vehicular homicide.—“Vehicular homicide” is the killing of a human being, or the killing of a viable fetus by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.
(1) Vehicular homicide is:
(a) A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(b) A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:
1. At the time of the accident, the person knew, or should have known, that the accident occurred; and
2. The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.
This paragraph does not require that the person knew that the accident resulted in injury or death.
(2) For purposes of this section, a fetus is viable when it becomes capable of meaningful life outside the womb through standard medical measures.
(3) A right of action for civil damages shall exist under s. 768.19, under all circumstances, for all deaths described in this section.
(4) In addition to any other punishment, the court may order the person to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital that regularly receives victims of vehicle accidents, under the supervision of a registered nurse, an emergency room physician, or an emergency medical technician pursuant to a voluntary community service program operated by the trauma center or hospital.