LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The family of a woman who was killed when the teenage son of a multimillionaire businessman ran a West Los Angeles red light in a Lamborghini SUV and slammed into her car at nearly 100 mph announced today they have reached an $18.85 million settlement of their lawsuit against the teen's parents.
Monique Muñoz was killed Feb. 17, 2021, at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Overland Avenue when her car was struck by the high-end vehicle driven by the then-17-year-old son of James Khuri, described by Forbes as a multimillionaire who owns several real estate firms, manufacturing companies and an e-commerce business.
Attorneys said Muñoz was heading home to Hawthorne from her job at UCLA Health in Los Angeles. She was attempting to make a left turn when the teen slammed into her vehicle.
During a juvenile court hearing for the teen last year, LAPD Officer Daniel Whitmore, who analyzed the event data recorder from the Lamborghini SUV after the crash, testified that the vehicle's speed was recorded at 86 mph five seconds before the impact, with the driver's foot ``completely on the gas pedal 100%'' and the vehicle's speed reaching 106 mph less than two seconds before the collision.
The officer said the data then showed the Lamborghini's driver applying the vehicle's brakes, with the SUV moving somewhere between 77 and 92 mph when it collided with Muñoz's Lexus
``Today is a significant milestone because the Muñoz family can finally get some closure for this horrific tragedy,'' attorney Daniel Ghyczy, who represents the family, said in a statement. ``The family faced numerous hurdles from both private insurance companies and the L.A. District Attorney's office, and experienced the harsh realities of racism and bias against those from underserved communities.
``The family pleaded for the district attorney to investigate this case and met with the office dozens of times to advocate for their family,'' he said. ``It was never about money for the Muñoz family, it was about acknowledgement of (the teen's) misconduct that resulted in the death of their only daughter and to ensure that he was held accountable. Today's settlement is a testament to their efforts and is a step closer to justice.''
The teen was ordered last year to serve seven to nine months in a juvenile camp.
Relatives of the victim and activists initially alleged that charges were not quickly filed against the teen -- the case was filed in April 2021 -- because of the wealth and influence of his father.
Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Brian Wendling told the Los Angeles Times, however, that the Lamborghini driver's arrest was only delayed by the fact that he had to be hospitalized for injuries sustained in the crash.
James Khuri has apologized to Muñoz's family via Instagram, offering ``my support in any way you will allow me to'' and that he and his family ``pray for the Muñoz family.''
Authorities said the teen had been stopped by Beverly Hills police in October 2020 and November 2020 -- with body-worn video from the two stops indicating that he was cited first for driving 72 mph in a 35-mph zone and then cited for making an ``unsafe start'' by accelerating very fast, with that officer deciding to impound the vehicle. In both instances, the officers noted that the teen was supposed to be driving with someone who was at least 25 under the rules of a learner's permit.
Attorneys for Muñoz's family noted that the fatal crash occurred just three months after the teen's Lamborghini had been impounded.
During the Juvenile Court hearing, Judge Sabina A. Helton noted that the teen was driving at high speed in a 35-mph zone at the time of the collision.
``The tragedy that occurred on that day was a long time in the making ...,'' Helton said, calling it an ``avoidable accident.''
Helton said the boy had been given a ``very high-performance car'' and that his parents were aware he had received two citations in 2020 from Beverly Hills police including one in which the vehicle was impounded and subsequently returned to the teen.