A jury has ordered Kristina Gaime, the Pasco County mother who went to prison for killing her youngest son and attempting to kill her oldest son in a murder-suicide, to pay more than $500 million to her surviving child and his father in connection to the infamous 1999 crime.
The verdict ended the long standing lawsuit against Gaime filed by ex-husband Stephen Rotell, surviving son Adam Rotell, and the estate of Mathew Rotell, who was killed at age 6. Though the suit was originally filed in 2001, the Rotells had since been prevented from having their day in court until Gaime’s release from prison, which finally occurred in April after serving 17 years behind bars.
“The point of this lawsuit was to try to move past this tragedy and let Adam know that the system hadn’t completely failed him,” said Attorney Thomas Cope, Rotell’s counsel. "Closure is nothing that really happens in a case like this. Let's be honest: This is a step in the right direction that a jury says 'I understand that you've been injured in a catastrophic, unfathomable fashion.’"
Gaime had attempted the murder-suicide of herself and her two boys while engaged in a heated custody dispute with Rotell, during which time she wrongfully accused Rotell of sexual abuse. After being cleared of all charges, Rotell was able to pursue custody of the children. Gaime reacted by drugging her children with morphine and placing them inside her running minivan with a hose running from the tailpipe through a car window. Though she and Adam survived, her youngest son did not.
The Rotells will now pursue a bad faith action against Gaime’s home owner’s insurer State Farm. If successful, State Farm could be forced to pay the entire amount of the judgement to the Rotells.
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