Firms’ Negligence Allegedly to Blame in Royal Palm Beach Teen’s Death

Royal Palm Beach — On the night of January 25, 2016, at 8:13 p.m.,16-year-old Yessica Angel-Moreno was riding her bicycle home from her first night of English language class at Royal Palm Beach High School, near Okeechobee Boulevard. At the same time, 36-year-old Jorge Manuel Pires was in his 2005 BMW 330I, driving through a shopping center on the same road.

As Angel-Moreno rode her bicycle onto the driveway of the shopping center, Mr. Pires drove onto it in his vehicle. Striking his driver’s side door, she suffered devastating injuries requiring emergency airlifting to St. Mary’s Medical Center. Six days later, she died.

On October 13, 2017, the attorney of Angel-Moreno’s mother, Jason Cornell, filed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against two firms: Timothy J. Messler Inc., the civil engineering firm responsible for Okeechobee Boulevard’s lane expansion, and Royal Arnav, LLC, the company that owns Village Shoppes Plaza.

The suit claims the Jupiter, Florida-based firms’ negligence is to blame for the teen’s death and seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Mr. Cornell alleges that on the night of January 25, 2016, Mr. Pires could not possibly have seen Angel-Moreno riding past him on her bicycle because of the shopping center driveway’s design. He asserts Royal Arnav should have been aware that the driveway, constructed in 1983 when Okeechobee Boulevard was a two-lane road, was intended only for temporary access to the shopping center and further use was not permitted.

Furthermore, Mr. Cornell alleges Timothy Messler, Inc. should have corrected safety issues with the driveway when it expanded Okeechobee Boulevard from two to six lanes, in 2013. He notes how a sign, trees, and shrubs obstruct motorists’ view of the sidewalk. The civil engineering firm was not available for comment.

Avani Patel, the in-house attorney for Village Shoppes Plaza owner Royal Arnav LLC, said Mr. Cornell is mistaken about the crash site — that it occurred in another shopping center nearby, not in front of Village Shoppes Plaza. “It seems it’s the wrong plaza,” Mrs. Patel said.