Wednesday, February 8, 2012
On Feb. 10, 2010, Palm Beach air-conditioning mogul John Goodman allegedly ran a stop sign. His Bentley convertible struck a Hyundai being driven by Scott Wilson, a 23-year-old civil engineer. Wilson’s car landed in a nearby canal where the young man drowned. The near-billionaire then fled the scene. Police say Goodman had a blood alcohol content of 0.177, twice the legal limit. Not surprisingly, Goodman is being sued by Wilson’s parents for a great deal of money. (He also faces criminal charges that could put him in jail for 30 years).
Fortunately for Goodman, he had set up a very large trust (currently worth “several hundred million dollars” according to Goodman’s attorney) years earlier for the benefit of his two children, with distributions to be dispersed when each child reached the age of 35. West Palm Beach Judge Glenn Kelley ruled early in the Goodman civil lawsuit that the jury could not be told of the large trust’s existence because it might encourage jurors to impose a larger verdict against Goodman, despite the fact that he, in theory, has no control over the trust.