1200 Weimer Hall | P.O. Box 118405
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-5551

A service of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

© 2024 WUFT / Division of Media Properties
News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Families Of UF Students Who Died In Pedestrian Crashes File Wrongful Death Suit

The intersection of Buckman Drive and West University Avenue has seen its share of fatal crashes in recent years, including one in January 2021. (Lyric Lighty/WUFT News)
The intersection of Buckman Drive and West University Avenue has seen its share of fatal crashes in recent years, including one in January 2021. (Lyric Lighty/WUFT News)

The families of two University of Florida students who died in pedestrian crashes along University Avenue have filed wrongful death complaints through the same law firm. 

The parents of Margaret “Maggie” Paxton and Sophia Lambert have retained law firm Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen to represent them. Court records indicate both lawsuits, filed in the Alachua County Circuit Court last week, are seeking over $100,000 in damages. The claim of negligence is at the center of both lawsuits. 

"We are committed to holding all of the drivers and related entities accountable for their roles and decisions that resulted directly in Maggie and Sophia's deaths," attorney Andrew B. Yaffa said in a press release

Maggie Paxton,18, died in a hit and run crash along West University Avenue Dec. 9. James and Lisa Paxton, parents of Maggie Paxton, filed a lawsuit against Miguel A. Figueroa on the count of “negligent operation of a vehicle,” according to court records. The BMW vehicle involved in the crash was identified by the Gainesville Police Department in late January. 

Sophia Lambert, 18, died in a pedestrian crash Jan. 16, just over a month after Paxton’s crash. Her parents, Lawrence and Julie Lambert, are also suing drivers involved in the crash. As one of the drivers, Benjamin A. Piper, was completing an Uber Eats delivery at the time of the accident, the lawsuit also lists Uber and Portier, LLC, a subsidiary of Uber responsible for operating Uber Eats. 

The lawsuit alleges multiple counts related to negligence on behalf of Uber and Uber Eats, referred to jointly as “Uber Defendants.” Additionally, the lawsuit said Uber is responsible for negligence on behalf of the Uber driver. 

According to court records, the other car involved in the crash was an Accord operated by Boris Stoyanov, a 19-year-old UF student. The lawsuit lists a claim of negligent driving against Stoyanov and an additional claim of vicarious responsibility for Veselin Stoyanov, the owner of the Accord.

Each lawsuit lists claims on behalf of the students who died and on behalf of each surviving parent. Both families demanded a jury trial. 

The community responded to the crashes with petitions reflecting demands for increased pedestrian safety reforms near campus. The #NotOneMore campaign was also created to advocate for transportation safety. 

The Gainesville Police Department and University of Florida Police Department launched the Gator Special Traffic Enforcement Program, called “STEP,” to increase enforcement of traffic laws in high-volume traffic areas near the university. Local law enforcement agencies are also working with the Florida Department of Transportation to implement safety upgrades on state roads near campus. 

Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen announced in a press release his firm will be holding a press conference this week to help publicize the lawsuits and advocate for safer roads near the university. 

Valeriya is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.