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FL Police Released Drunk Man Killed by Train

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A drunk man who was killed by a train was released from police custody hours before his death. Christopher Milanese, 24, was killed on impact by the train after he laid down on the tracks.

Milanese had been drinking the night before he was arrested in Boca Raton, Florida, in 2007. He was arrested for driving intoxicated by Boca Raton police, Courthouse News Service reports.

He was given traffic citations at the police station and was released from custody. Officers called for a cab to take him home, but the cab driver never picked him up. Instead, Milanese drove himself, the Courthouse News Service reports.

Milanese was not from Boca Raton and was not from the area. He ended up lying down on the train tracks about an hour later. The train engineer sounded the train's horns in an effort to wake him up, but to no avail. Milanese died from the train collision, and at the time his blood alcohol limit was still twice the legal limit, the Courthouse News Service reports.

Now, his family has sued the city for wrongful death, alleging that they had failed to ensure he had a safe ride back to his house considering he was unfamiliar with the area, according to the Courthouse News Service. The trial court initially dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the family did not show that the city owed Milanese a duty of care.

In a negligence case, the suing party must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Duty can arise in several different situations, such as legally-created duty of care.

The appeals court, however, reversed the trial court's decision and is now allowing the lawsuit to proceed. According to the appellate court, the focus of the lawsuit is not on what happened after he was released - the unfortunate accident of Christopher Milanese, the drunk man killed by a train - but the actions of the police officers while Milanese was in custody such as by releasing him when he was still too intoxicated, Courthouse News Service reports. Most likely, police officers do have an established duty of care with respect to arrested individuals in their custody.

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