John Goodman, polo tycoon, ordered to pay $46 million to parents of manslaughter victim

Mike Krumboltz
The Upshot

John Goodman

John Goodman (not the actor) has been ordered to pay $46 million to the parents of a 23-year-old man, Scott Wilson, whom Goodman killed while driving under the influence.

The case made headlines because Goodman, the founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, attempted to avoid paying the settlement by legally adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins, as his daughter. Prosecuting lawyers argued that Goodman, the heir of an air conditioning fortune, was attempting to shield his substantial assets. The adoption entitled Hutchins to a third of his children's $300 million trust. Lawyers for Goodman's two biological children filed a lawsuit in response to their father's actions.

Of course, there is also a criminal case. Goodman faces up to 30 years in prison for manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. He was found guilty last month, but Goodman's legal team is currently seeking a new trial for its client. The team alleges jury misconduct and claims that an alternate juror called one of Goodman's attorneys and said that it was "clear" that other jurors thought Goodman guilty before the trial concluded.

Goodman's team also alleged that two jurors "made false statements in order to cover up a juror's 'prejudicial gesture' and that the same juror improperly began writing a book about the case during the trial."

Goodman claimed that his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward, which caused him to plow into the victim's car, pushing it and Wilson into a nearby canal. Wilson drowned. Goodman  denied being drunk at the time of the accident. However, experts testified that Goodman's blood alcohol level was more than twice Florida's legal limit three hours after the crash.

Goodman faces sentencing on April 30.