$4 Million Settlement Won for NYC Girl for Crash that Killed Her Father
A nine-year-old East Village girl is set to receive a $4 million settlement from the trucking company that killed her father in a terrible accident nearly a decade ago.
Lailonni Daisy Willis was nine months old when her father, Marquis Willis, 22, was killed in a speeding BMW driven by an inebriated friend that collided with a Mack garbage truck in Flatbush.
The traffic collision, seen on surveillance cameras, happened at 1:35 a.m. on July 9, 2014, after Willis and two drinking pals left a party.
Marquis Willis, a construction worker, was a passenger in his friend Garfield Gwood’s BMW, which was speeding down Utica Avenue at 76 mph before colliding with the 40-foot truck as it made a heavy left turn.
Gwood was sentenced to seven years in jail after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter.
However, a Brooklyn judge ruled that truck driver Roberto Venditti was also to blame for the dangerous turn.
Lailonni’s wrongful-death lawsuit against Venditti and the sanitation company IESI was delayed for years due to the COVID-19 epidemic and other setbacks.
During the 19-day trial before the Brooklyn Supreme Court, pathologist Michael Baden testified for IESI. He stated that Willis was unconscious following the crash. According to Lailonni’s lawyer, Peter DeFilippis, EMTS stated that he was attentive and answered questions, indicating that he was in conscious pain for 10 to 18 minutes as he bled to death.
Lailonni took the podium to discuss her experiences as a gymnast, cheerleader, and Girl Scount, but she sobbed as she described the anguish of growing up without a father.
Willis’ fiancee, Maadia Bunch, regarded him as a doting father throughout his daughter’s infancy.
Shortly before the jury began deliberations, IESI proposed the $4 million settlement for damages, which included “loss of parental guidance.” Gwood, who was also found guilty, paid an additional $50,000 in insurance coverage.
“While no amount of money will ever bring back my child’s father, I’m definitely happy with the outcome,” Bunch said. “My plan is for Lailonni to go to college and to keep her active. I’ve got so much in store for her.”
The money will be given to Lailonni over the course of several years, beginning at the age of 18. Bunch will ask the Surrogate Court for funds sooner to help Lailonni with things such as tutoring and music lessons.
“We hope that this settlement will bring some closure to the Willis family as they continue to cope with this immeasurable tragedy,” DeFilippis said.
Dwayne McDonald, a backseat BMW passenger with no children, was also killed in the crash. His family settled for $300,000 several years ago.