Olivera's family to get $1.7 million from Oates, neighborhood in lawsuit

info@islandpacket.comAugust 5, 2013 

The widow of a Bluffton man shot to death by tow-truck driver Preston Oates in 2010 has settled a lawsuit against Oates and several co-defendants for $1.75 million.

The agreement, approved July 10 by Judge Carmen Mullen, prevents future civil litigation against Oates, the Edgefield Homeowners Association, IMC Resort Services and Pro-Tow LLC, according to William Harvey III, the attorney for Zabdi Olivera.

Her husband, 34-year-old Carlos Olivera, was fatally shot in front of her and their children on Christmas Eve while visiting family in the Edgefield subdivision. The shooting stemmed from an argument between Carlos Olivera and Oates that began after Oates booted Carlos Olivera's vehicle.

IMC Resort Services was the neighborhood's property manager, according to the settlement order.

A secretary for Jared Newman, Oates' criminal attorney, said Monday that Newman was not involved in the civil case. Newman was not available for comment, she said.

Attorney information for the homeowners association, Pro-Tow and IMC Resort Services was not available.

Oates, who is charged with manslaughter, formerly owned the towing company Pro-Tow. He is claiming self-defense under South Carolina's "Castle Doctrine" and is appealing a March 2012 ruling that he is subject to criminal prosecution.

The lawsuit accused the neighborhood association, the towing company and the property manager of negligence in relation to neighborhood rules that prohibit parking on the street or on the grass, overly aggressive enforcement of those rules, and other issues, Harvey said in a news release.

A copy of the initial lawsuit was not immediately available.

Harvey, of the Beaufort firm Harvey & Battey, said the settlement offers closure for the widow and her four children.

"This is a great settlement all the way around because it prevents years of litigation," Harvey said Monday, noting that the civil case might have been affected by Oates' pending appeal in the criminal case.

Harvey said that the money already has been disbursed to Zabdi Olivera, who has since moved out of state. Most of the money came from insurance companies representing the defendants, he said.

It's not clear how much money, if any, came from Oates.

Harvey declined to say how much the law firm received from the settlement.

Last week, a judge ruled that Oates must continue wearing an electronic tracking device while free on bond. A decision on his appeal is not expected for several months.

Related content:

Ex-Bluffton tow-truck driver charged with manslaughter must continue wearing tracking device, July 31, 2013

Oates suspected of violating bond, posing online as Beaufort County sheriff, wife, Oct. 10, 2012

Suspect in Bluffton Christmas Eve fatal shooting freed on bond, Aug. 31, 2011

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.

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