Both the mother and estranged husband of Jim Carrey's late ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the actor stemming from Ms. White's death. The mother's case was filed one month after the estranged husband filed suit.
Both cases against Mr. Carrey allege that the actor provided the drugs that Ms. White used to overdose in September 2015. Additionally, the cases allege that Mr. Carrey knowingly passed STDs to Ms. White, and engaged in a campaign of intimidation and threats to silence Ms. White so as to protect his career.
What Are These Cases About?
The wrongful death cases filed by both the estranged husband and mother of Ms. White are civil cases and not criminal cases. There have been no criminal charges filed against the actor stemming from his ex-girlfriend's suicide. Civil cases are about money. There is not much else a civil court can do other than force one party to pay another party. Mr. Carrey has voiced his opinion that he believes the lawsuits are basically an attempted shakedown.
While the plaintiffs are alleging that Mr. Carrey caused Ms. White to commit suicide, facts have come to light showing that Mr. Carrey texted Ms. White about the missing prescription drugs. Additionally, during the funeral, Mr. Carrey was a pallbearer and appeared very sad over his former flame's death. The two dated for a couple years, broke up, attempted to reconcile a year later, but broke up again a week before her death.
Can a Person Be Held Liable Twice?
While criminal defendants cannot be held to answer for the same crime twice, thanks to double jeopardy, in civil court, a defendant can be held liable to more than one person stemming from the same action. The simplest example is a car accident. The person who caused the accident can be held liable to each individual they injured. However, in a wrongful death action, this does not necessarily hold true, as not only does each state handle these cases differently, but some states relegate the cause of action to the deceased's estate.
In this case, where Mr. Carrey is being sued separately by both the mother and husband of the deceased, both can potentially have valid claims. Typically, in California for instance, if there is a spouse or children, then a parent will not be able maintain a wrongful death action unless they can show they were financially dependent upon the deceased. As the cases against Mr. Carrey are recently filed, the court may need to decide if one or the other cannot be maintained.