• Jan 17th 2012 at 10:35AM
  • 497
Copy of a family photo of Denise and Gerard Bassi. The ... Copy of a family photo of Denise and Gerard Bassi. The couple was killed, along with Denise's mother, Linda McWilliams in a 2007 Christmas day crash in Hudson, FL (Tampa Bay Times/Zuma).
In what many would call the biggest act of chutzpah of the last decade, a Florida man who pleaded guilty to committing DUI manslaughter in 2007 after police found drugs in his system is now filing a lawsuit against his dead victims for being the real cause of the accident.

David Belniak is apparently having second thoughts about his plea after spending a few years of a 12 year sentence behind bars. Belniak, who never spoke in his own defense during his trial, is being represented by his sister, an attorney, so legal fees are apparently not an issue.

Attorney Debra A. Tuomey, in making her brother's filing, said the Florida Highway Patrol's investigation of the case was a "government sanctioned assassination against one individual." Her suit suggests that the police and prosecutor's office were driven by Belniak's history as a DUI driver and convicted drug dealer rather than the facts of the accident .

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the lawsuit seeks to get the victims' relatives to pay Belniak, now 38, for his "pain and suffering ... mental anguish ... loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life" and the medical bills he got as a result of a crash he pleaded guilty to causing.

"This is ridiculous," Georgette DeFranco, 48, a relative of the victims, told the Times. "You caused it. You accepted guilt. How can I or anybody in this family be responsible for your injuries?"

DeFranco, the Times reported, lost her mother, Linda McWilliams, 66; her sister, Denise Bassi, 50; and her brother-in-law, Gerard Bassi, 51, in the crash. DeFranco's stepfather, Ray McWilliams, was injured but survived, but died last March at age 68 allegedly, in part, due to the after effects of the accident. The Bassi couple lived in Connecticut and were visiting Florida for the holidays.

Authorities said Belniak, at the time of the accident on Christmas day 2007, was driving between 75 and 85 mph when his pickup smashed into the back of McWilliams' Chevrolet Tahoe. The SUV crumpled. Gerard Bassi died at the scene. Denise Bassi died in surgery that day. Linda McWilliams was taken off life support a week later. Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system.

A record of drugs and bad driving

Belniak had a history of driving infractions, having faced DUI charges twice before, according to the Times. Belniak also served a previous prison term for possessing and trafficking GHB, commonly known as "the date rape drug."

So how could Belniak possibly be charging that the accident was the fault of the victim?
The suit claims McWilliams was in the left turn lane and "because of his sheer negligence" McWilliams abruptly changed lanes, "making it impossible" for Belniak to avoid the collision. The suit also accuses McWilliams of "possibly" being under the influence of medication at the time of the crash.

Tuomey has said that her brother accepted a plea deal on the three counts of DUI manslaughter and other charges because he was facing a possible sentence of life in prison.

Maureen M. Deskins, the Tampa attorney representing the estate of Linda and Ray McWilliams, told the Tampa Bay Times the lawsuit is "gut-wrenching" and that the relatives are "stunned."

Anyone would be, especially given Belniak's history on top of the details of the accident.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Talk about frivolous lawsuits - if I were his Sister, I'd be very concerned about my license to practice law in the State of Florida. This is exactly what the Florida Bar is looking at trying to avoid - bad publicity brought on non-sense litigation filed by members of the bar. As far as her brother goes, he should stay in prison earning the $0.83 cents per day so that in 5,000 years he can finally repay his victims families for their tremendous loss, and mental anguish. My heart goes out to the victims and their familes. Keep this creep in prison forever and make room for his Sister.
      • 3 Years Ago
      His sister (the lawyer) should be thrown in jail too... Good to see the time behind bars is helping this moron!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Any Judge that would hear this should be dis-barred
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is a hot hot hot place in hell for this guy and his sister the lawyer. Believe that. What comes around goes around. He's lucky he didn't kill anyone who was connected. He'd be wearing cement shoes by now.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If there ever was a douche bag it's the sister/attorney representing this guy. Something needs to be done to prevent BS lawsuits like this from clogging the court system ... and lawyers who file them need to be disbarred.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This case will be thrown out of court. He shouldn't have been drunk and loaded in the first place, and second he was going over the speed limit. With being drunk and high on drugs how did he know that the drive changed lanes and was unable to avoid him. I can see if he got in front of Judge Judy or Judge Marilyn Milian or any of the TV judges they would laugh him out of court.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A lawyer with no moral character, a criminal denying responsibility and a broken law system. The ugly reality of the court system in the USA.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The wrong people died.
      • 3 Years Ago
      There's a special place in Hell for people like this....and their lawyers.
      Bruce & Claudia
      • 3 Years Ago
      If the caliber of the jury follows most juries these days, he'll get off and get a huge settlement. Lends credence to the saying "You can't fix stupid". Everbody remember the Ditz that burned herself at Mc Donalds? I rest my case.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It should be illegal for criminals to sue their victims
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