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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death claims are usually brought by the estate of a person who was killed due to fault of another. The most common plaintiffs are the surviving spouse or the children of the deceased. The wrongful death laws differ from state to state. Generally, the elements are the same and include a death of a human being which was caused either by negligence or the intent to harm. The surviving family members usually need to be suffering a monetary injury as a result of the death. A wrongful death lawsuit often ties in with other personal injury lawsuits including vehicle accidents or medical malpractice.


Recently in Wrongful Death Category

The parents of a deceased 16-year-old high school student in Chicago have sued the police, school, and individually involved personnel, as a result of their son's suicide. Corey Walgren jumped from the fifth floor of a parking garage after being interrogated by the school's police liaison and school's dean regarding an alleged crime.

It is alleged that Corey was threatened with possession and distribution of child pornography charges, and told he would have to register on the sex offender registry, while being interrogated at school. After the interrogation ended, while his mother was en route to pick him up from school, Corey walked out of the school's office and into a downtown Naperville parking garage, where he climbed to the fifth floor and jumped. He did not pass until later that day.

On December 1, 2016, Lindsey Rietveld was shopping at the Walmart store where she worked in Pella, Iowa, when a Ford F-150 pickup truck came crashing through the front door of the store. The truck struck and killed Ms. Rietveld and two others. As a result of the fatal crash, Rietveld's estate has filed a lawsuit against Walmart, the driver of the truck, and the architectural designer of the front of the store. The lawsuit claims the lack of barriers is to blame for the wrongful death.

The driver of the truck told police that he choked on a sip of coffee, passed out, and woke up after crashing through the front of the store. As a result of suffering the medical emergency, the driver was not charged criminally.

Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving spouses and family to recover financially when a spouse or family member dies due to the negligence or intentional act of another. Wrongful death laws will vary from state to state, but will typically only allow immediate family members, or next of kin, to file the claim. This often results in unmarried individuals being unable to recover for wrongful death claims.

The common exception to this involves states that allow registered domestic partners, which used to be common for same-sex couples prior the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. However, frequently, older couples will register as domestic partners rather than re-marry after a divorce, or a prior spouse died, for a wide variety of social and economic reasons.

In 2013, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an unsecured brick wall on a demolition site collapsed onto the adjacent Salvation Army store. The three to four story brick wall crushed the store, killed seven individuals, and injured 12 others, affecting a total of 19 families. A mass injury, wrongful death lawsuit filed in response concluded earlier this year.

The victims were awarded $227 million by a settlement in February, after a 17-week long trial, while the jury was still deliberating. The jury found the Salvation Army, as well as the demolition site's owner, and the architect and contractor doing the demolition, liable for the collapse, deaths, and injuries. Of the $227 million, $200 million will be paid by the Salvation Army, while the remainder will be paid by the demolition site's owner. However, none of the victims or families have been paid yet as the damages were not apportioned.

It may surprise you to learn that Congress is now considering a bill that would require cruise ship companies to report crimes and death on their vessels, even if it's only surprising to learn that cruise ship operators weren't already contacting authorities if a passenger was robbed, assaulted, or died at sea.

It may also surprise you to learn a similar bill has been floating around the federal legislature since 2013, and has yet to be passed. So will the most recent version fare any better? And who should be liable for deaths on the high seas?

The wife of deceased triathlete Jared Bynum was recently awarded $4 million in the wrongful death lawsuit stemming from his fatal bicycle accident in 2012. The case was filed against both the motorist that struck and killed her husband as well as the developer of the highway.

While the driver alleged that the sun was in their eyes, the developer, with the support of public investigators, claimed that Mr. Bynum should never have been on the roadway. Fortunately for the widow of the deceased, a jury didn't find these arguments convincing enough. Though the developer entity was not found liable, the jury indicated that driver was liable for the accident, and the developer's engineer was liable for the lack of signage.

The accidental death of a three-year-old child at a Head Start program in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, has prompted a $10 million lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the death could have been prevented with the exercise of reasonable, ordinary care.

The young child was playing in a gymnasium, near a wall where decades-old retractable lunch tables affixed to the wall were folded up. Without warning, the incredibly heavy tables came loose, opened up, and in the process, crushed the three-year-old child. As the lawsuit explains, the tables were not properly secured, had fallen into disrepair, and had not been used in the past several years. It is alleged that the tables crashed open due to failure to properly inspect the tables.

As his story goes, former soldier and reserve deputy Dwayne Thurman was cleaning his wife Brenda's designer model Glock .380 pistol when the gun went off, firing a round into Brenda's chest. Dwayne called 911, and Brenda was declared dead shortly after she arrived at the hospital.

But it's what happened in between the shooting and when emergency responders first arrived at the house that's the subject of two lawsuits filed by Brenda's children against the adoptive father. The lawsuits claim he did little, if anything, to save their mother's life.

The AARP Foundation has reported that the family of Bobby Glen Tweed has reached a settlement with the nursing home over the wrongful death action filed in Tennessee state court. Although the full terms of the settlement are confidential, the report explains that the family did secure a damages award.

The death of Bobby Glen Tweed was alleged to a result of strong psychotropic drugs that were misused on him, as they are on countless other Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The psychotropics were allegedly used not for any medical benefit, but rather to make the 78 year old Mr. Tweed more docile or compliant.

What makes this case that much more appalling is the fact that the psychotropic drugs used here are, and were, actually linked to death in patients with dementia. Additionally, Mr. Tweed’s daughter, who held the power of attorney, was never consulted about the administration of these drugs for her father.

A recent lawsuit filed by the widower of a Michigan manufacturing plant worker is seeking to hold the makers and installers of robotic manufacturing equipment liable for the death. Wanda Holbrook was inspecting a section of machinery that was not working properly, when another malfunctioning robotic machine struck her in the head and killed her.

The lawsuit alleges that the robot that killed her should not have been able to access the area where she was located, and the very fact that the incident occurred is proof of a design defect and the failure of the various safety systems.