Jury awards $50 million in 2008 fatal wreck lawsuit

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Charleston County jury has awarded what is believed to be a record-setting damages verdict to a woman whose husband was killed 5 years ago in an accident involving a driver that police say should have never been behind the wheel.

Cindy Bales, representing her late husband Frank Bales, was awarded $50 million dollars in damages Thursday night as part of a personal injury case against Abel Martinez-Martinez.

According to her attorney, Akim Anastopoulo, the verdict is believed to be the highest actual damage verdict ever awarded in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas.

Attorneys say Martinez ran a red light at Fain Street and Aviation Avenue in Charleston County on October 15, 2008 causing Frank Bales to hit him. The victim was thrown from his motorcycle and died at the scene.

Officials say Martinez was charged with running a red light and driving without a license, third offense.

According to a release, the defendant's attorney argued Martinez ran the light "due to the confusing nature of the intersection."

The jury found Martinez was at fault, and reached a verdict for Bales in the amount of $20 million in actual damages, and $30 million in punitive damages.

Martinez's attorney Mike Ethridge says they are reviewing all options.

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