John Graziano's family files lawsuit against Hulk, Linda, Nick Hogan
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/25/2008
John Graziano's family feels the Hogan clan didn't know best when it came to Nick Hogan's alleged need for speed.
Attorneys for the 23-year-old U.S. Marine filed a 22-page lawsuit on Monday in Pinellas County Circuit Court alleging three counts of negligence on the part of Terrence "Hulk Hogan" Bollea and one count each on his estranged wife Linda; their 17-year-old son Nick; and family friend Daniel Jacobs, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by E! News.
The lawsuit stems from a crash in Clearwater, FL last August, in which Nick was driving his father's 1998 Toyota Supra when he lost control and hit a raised median, spinning the vehicle and causing its rear end to strike a palm tree.
Graziano's lawyers George Tragos and Kimberley Kohn told the St. Petersburg Times on Monday that the lawsuit is necessary to provide money for their client's long-term care, adding Graziano is currently in a "semiconscious" state and can respond to only some stimuli.
"He will never be fully the John that he was before," Tragos told the Times. "We have to plan for what his lifelong care would be."
While the extent of care Graziano will require remains unclear, Tragos told the Times medical bills have already exceeded $1 million and that any proceeds that are a result of the lawsuit will go to a trust set up for Graziano and not directly to his parents.
Despite the fact that it was Nick behind the wheel of the Toyota Supra at the time of the crash, Hulk -- as co-owner of the vehicle with his son, bore the brunt of the lawsuit. Hulk also owned the Dodge Viper driven by Jacobs, who police have alleged Nick was racing at the time of the crash.
In addition, Hulk signed Nick's driver's license application, meaning he had a "statutory obligation and duty of imputed liability for any negligence or willful misconduct" for his teenage son's driving. Hulk is also accused of being "careless and negligent" in allowing Nick and Jacobs use of the vehicles when he was aware of their penchant for street racing.
In Linda's case, it's a previous statement she made in Vehicular Lunatics -- a 2005 documentary about street racing and fast cars -- that got her named in the lawsuit.
"Oh, I love it, I love it," the lawsuit quotes Linda as stating. "The rush, the speed on the road, stereo blasting, heart pounding, racing in between all the cars, dodging the cops. It's awesome."
Nick -- who has already been criminally charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury; using a motor vehicle in commission of a felony; being a driver under 21 operating a vehicle with a breath-alcohol level of 0.02% or higher; and having illegal window tinting -- is also accused of being liable for the crash in the lawsuit for speeding, racing and consuming alcohol as an underage minor.
While Nick and Hulk's attorney Morris "Sandy" Weinberg Jr. told the Times that the lawsuit wasn't surprising, he placed the blame for the severity of Graziano's injury on the fact that the front-seat passenger wasn't wearing a set belt.
"Nick lost his older brother, basically, and for the Bollea family, they considered John to essentially be a member of the family," Weinberg told the Times. "But John had been cited for not wearing a seat belt a few months before the accident and trained as a driver in the military with strict rules about wearing seat belts. Except for the fact that he didn't have a seat belt, we wouldn't be talking about this kind of case."
Not surprisingly, Tragos disagreed with Weinberg's assertion.
"The seat belt didn't hit that tree. The car hit the tree," Tragos told the Times.
Despite the fact that the Hogan and Graziano families initially remained close following the crash, that is apparently no longer the case, as Nick, Linda and Brooke Hogan have been "barred" from visiting the hospital, the Timesreported.
Nick, Linda and Brooke last paid a visit to Graziano on Valentine's Day, where they were accompanied by gifts and photographers.
"We believe that it was a total [public relations] stunt," Kohn told Times.
Weinberg disagreed and argued the Hogan's sentiment shouldn't be questioned.
"The Bollea family has been visiting John for the last seven or eight months, and there's been no PR about it whatsoever," he told the Times. "It's a bunch of nonsense to suggest their visits to John are a PR stunt. That's crazy."