Archive for wrongful death lawsuit – Page 3

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Delivers Justice for Grieving Family

A $250,000 judgment  awarded to a woman  in a wrongful death lawsuit relating to her baby’s death at a Topeka, Kansas daycare is being hailed for delivering a measure of justice that the criminal justice system failed to provide. The suit may also bring pressure for criminal charges to be brought in connection with the tragic case.

Mother-uses-civil-court-after-infants-death-mishandledIn 2013, Misty Durham brought her infant son, Caleb Stewart, to his daycare center, operated by Tara Johnson. According to a possibly incomplete police report, Johnson left the center after laying Caleb on a deeply-cushioned surface, rather than a crib. Her friend, Destiny McClusky, was placed in charge. At some point, McClusky realized Caleb wasn’t breathing, and contacted Johnson. Johnson returned with her boyfriend Russell Morris, called 911 and attempted CPR, according to the report. Caleb could not be revived, and was pronounced dead at Stormont Vail Hospital.

Johnson, McClusky, and Morris were named in the wrongful death lawsuit, and the Shawnee County District Court awarded Durham $250,000 — the maximum amount allowed. All three of the named defendants are ordered to pay Durham this amount.

Caleb’s mother has said that the lawsuit was her last resort in a frustrating process that resulted in no criminal charges brought against the three individuals. She alleges that the investigating officer, detective Erin Thompson of the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, failed to competently investigate the case. Even more troubling — Thompson may have actually falsified information in her incident report.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into incidents in which Thompson may have falsified affidavits and mishandled investigations. Durham believes the investigation into Caleb’s death is one of those cases.

In cases such as these, a civil suit brings the only measure of justice currently available to Misty Durham. It is hoped that the police investigation may one day be re-opened and result in criminal charges — largely as a result of Durham’s successful civil suit. For now, Durham can find some measure of peace knowing that the day care operator and her friends have been found responsible for Caleb’s death in the civil court system.

Mother of 5 Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On April 26, 2016, Amber Jones, the mother of five children who were brutally murdered by her former husband, Timothy (Tim) Jones, Jr., in late August of 2014, filed a wrongful death suit against the state of South Carolina and the Lexington County Department of Social Services (DSS) for the deaths of her children.

The lawsuit alleges that DSS did not do enough to protect her children: Abigail, 1, Gabriel 2, Nathan, 6, Elias, 7 and Merah, 8, by placing them in their father’s care.  The lawsuit reports that Tim was a “well-documented child abuser” (2) and provides a timeline of reported investigations that began in 2011 following reports of neglect and “substantial risk of physical injury.” (2)  In 2013 and 2014, the children’s school filed reports with DSS; one of which was a report that Tim choked one of the children and threw one against the wall.  A babysitter made a report of abuse in 2014.  DSS reportedly showed negligence in 11 areas and only created safety plans Wrongful-death-lawsuit-5-children-father-Tim-Jones-quotein response to the investigations.

Following the murders in late August 2014, Tim was reported to be under the influence of drugs and believed his children were going “chop him up and feed him to the dogs.” (2)  Tim allegedly strangled the children to death in his home, placed them in plastic bags, put them in his vehicle, and drove around with them for six days prior to dumping their bodies in rural Alabama.  On September 11, 2014, he stopped at a traffic checkpoint in Mississippi and was taken into custody due to blood on the interior and the smell of death coming from the vehicle.  Tim is currently being held in Lexington County, SC where he waits to stand trial for five counts of murder in the deaths of his five children.

The lawsuit states, “Each child suffer[ed] a horrific, but entirely preventable death.” (1)  DSS was reported to be knowledgeable of the risks the children were in from their father and Amber is seeking damages for the “wrongful deaths and conscious pain and suffering of her children.” (2)


Paul Walker’s Daughter Engaged in Complex Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death suits can be complex matters requiring the aid of a competent legal professional. A good example of this complexity is the pending civil lawsuit in the death of Fast and Furious movie franchise actor Paul Walker. Meadow Walker, the daughter of the deceased superstar actor, has filed a lawsuit against Porsche, the maker of the car in which her father died. It is her belief that Porsche bears responsibility for Paul Walker’s death because the car had design defects, helping precipitate his death.

porsche-paul-walker-lawsuitThe Accident

In 2013, Paul Walker sat in the passenger side of a Porsche Carrera GT during a charity event. The driver, Roger Rodas, apparently sped along between 80 to 90-mph before running into a pole. As expected, this high-speed collision led to a fire, after which authorities pronounced both men dead.

The Lawsuit

16 year-old Meadow Walker contends that her father survived the crash, which would mean that it was not the proximate cause of death. Instead, she opines that the failure of Porsche to install certain safety features led to the occupants being trapped until caught in the blaze.

She believes that the proper safety control features would have prevented the seat belt of Paul Walker from violently snapping his torso and breaking other parts of his body. Immobilized, he lay in wait as the flames engulfed him and his friend, driver Roger Rodas.

Porsche challenges this narrative, claiming that they and the investigators are correct that the reckless driving of Roger Rodas was the primary cause of the deaths.

Elements of Wrongful Death

There are some elements that must be present in the facts for a plaintiff to be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Duty-the defendant (here Porsche) must have had a responsibility to protect the victims.
  • Breach of Duty-the defendant failed in handling their responsibility to provide protection.
  • Causation-the actions of the defendant were the direct cause of death.

In general, Meadow Walker must prove that Porsche’s manufacturing of the car failed to provide the level of expected safety. Also, she should demonstrate that beyond this failure, nothing else played a more direct cause of the occupants’ deaths. The automaker is clearly challenging the causation, steadfastly contending that the driver was reckless.

As is common in these cases, it will take time to discern just what was the ultimate cause of the deaths. Wrongful death is a legal specialty best left to the professionals. For this reason, it is always wise for anyone involved in such a lawsuit, whether plaintiff or defendant, to consult a personal injury attorney as soon possible.

CTA Settles Wrongful-Death Suit with $4.3 Million Payment

In a tragic series of events in October 2009, a woman was killed after being struck in an intersection–but a conflict in the details led grieving family members to file a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority. According to the CTA, the woman, Martha Gonzalez was first struck by a hit-and-run driver and then struck again accidentally by a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. Her family, however argued in their suit that there was no hit-and-run car, as it was not visible in any of the footage from the bus itself. Whatever the truth is, as of Wednesday September 9th, 2015, the CTA board has approved a payment in the amount of $4.3 million to the woman’s estate, settling the suit.

Martha-Gonzalez-PlaceThe CTA describes the hit-and-run vehicle as a blue sedan operated by a male driver, though no suspects for the hit-and-run have been identified since the accident. The CTA bus driver who was said to be following the blue sedan at the time, Frankie Myles, was not charged with any criminal offenses or given a traffic ticket, but retired a few short years after the incident. Although the CTA holds firm to its assertion that Gonzalez was struck accidentally following the initial fatal hit-and-run, CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. has explained that the board feels that making the large settlement payment is the best option to not only avoid the unknowns and higher judgments of proceeding to court, but also to simply and swiftly put to rest a legal issue that is emotionally difficult and potentially stressful for all parties affected by the tragedy.

Since the accident, the intersection where the woman was killed has been renamed Honorary Martha Gonzalez Place. The pedestrian walk signal there now also has an additional safety feature: it activates a full four seconds before the change of the traffic light, hopefully giving pedestrians more time to cross before unscrupulous drivers attempt to cut them off. With dozens of deaths in Chicago each year attributable to accidents involving pedestrians, it may be only a matter of time before similar pedestrian walk signals are required at every intersection.

Counts Dismissed in Michael Brown Wrongful Death Lawsuit

michael-brown-The highly publicized Michael Brown wrongful death lawsuit suffered a setback recently, as four counts were dismissed by a federal judge.  This piece sheds light on the details of this highly controversial dismissal. Four counts in the Michael Brown wrongful death lawsuit were dismissed by a federal judge. The highly publicized wrongful lawsuit was brought against the city of Ferguson, Missouri by the parents of Michael Brown. Brown, a black teenager, was shot to death by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, last year.

The shooting catalyzed nationwide demonstrations and an emotional dialog regarding the excessive use of force by white police officers against young urban minorities. While the country’s urban centers experienced a number of racially charged police attacks against minorities throughout the past two years, the shooting of Brown is considered to be especially egregious.

The Michael Brown wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Brown’s family against the city of Ferguson, Missouri back in April. The family filed the lawsuit in an attempt to obtain $75,000 in compensation as well as unknown punitive damages. The lawsuit even called for a specific court order that disallows the use of certain police techniques that Brown’s family alleges are meant to”…demean, disregard, or underserve [the city of Ferguson, Missorui’s] African-American population.”

Federal judge, E. Richard Webber, is responsible for dismissing the four counts. He stated that two of the counts can stand for the time being though they may fall at a later point as certain claims cannot be made on behalf of Brown by his parents. Brown was considered to be an adult at the time of his death due to the fact that he was 18 years old michael-brown-3when officer Wilson shot him to death.

It is important to note that two of the four dismissed counts were not in dispute as they pertain to claims relating to state issued civil rights. The two counts relating to former police officer Wilson and Ferguson’s former Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, were dismissed after the judge determined that they were redundant.