Driver who hit and killed 17-year-old drops case against parents for damages
Businessman claimed legal route was the "only way to recover the money"31 January 2008
MADRID - A man who was suing the parents of a 17-year-old cyclist he ran over and killed, in order to cover the costs of the damage to the Audi A8 he was driving at the time, withdrew his claim yesterday amid angry scenes at the court building where the first hearing was taking place.
Tomás Delgado, 43, hit and killed Enaitz Iriondo Trinidad on 26 August 2004, when the 17-year-old was riding his bike to a campsite in Castañares de Rioja, La Rioja. Delgado's insurer, Winterthur, paid out EUR 33,000 in compensation to Iriondo's parents, given that their client was found partly to blame for the accident as he was driving too fast. However, the fact that Iriondo was cycling at night without a helmet or a reflective jacket formed the basis for Delgado's claim.
In March 2006 Delgado began proceedings against the deceased boy's parents and Winterthur to recoup EUR 20,000 to cover the repair of his Audi and the cost of a hire car while his vehicle was not roadworthy.
However, when the story hit the national news last week, the outcry against Delgado's actions was swift and unequivocal, with the public and figures from the legal system coming out in support of Iriondo's parents.
Speaking to EL PAÍS last Thursday, Tomás Delgado tried to justify his stance. "It was the only way to recover the money," he said. "And I waited right until the last minute to decide whether to proceed. I'm a victim of all of this too - nothing can be done about the boy, but my situation can be resolved."
Antonio and Rosa Iriondo meanwhile, became the protagonists of a media frenzy, appearing on chat shows, radio programmes and giving interviews to newspapers. "We don't want this to become a reality show," Rosa Iriondo told EL PAÍS on Sunday. "They've offered us money to appear on TV and we've always turned them down."
However, the first hearing for the case, scheduled for yesterday morning, turned into a media circus, with hundreds of journalists and supporters of the family turning out at the court building in Haro, La Rioja.
Delgado kept out of sight on the advice of his lawyer, Santiago Jimeno, who announced that he would be dropping the case due to the "slander from the media, and in order to preserve [Delgado's] dignity and his reputation." Jimeno also requested that Iriondo's parents cover the costs of the case. However, the lawyer for the Iriondos pointed out that it was Delgado's place to pay the costs, given that he had begun the action.
After the brief hearing, Antonio and Rosa Iriondo, accompanied by their daughter, left the court to applause from the assembled crowd. The parents are reported to now be considering pursuing legal measures to reopen the case against Delgado regarding his responsibility for the death of their son.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / S. HUNTER 2008]
Subject: Spanish news