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Zebley v. Heartland Indus. of Dawson, Inc., No. 09-2453

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By FindLaw Staff on November 12, 2010 4:16 PM

Action Based on Failure to Prevent Suicide of Plaintiff's Decedent

In Zebley v. Heartland Indus. of Dawson, Inc., No. 09-2453, an action against a licensed non-profit day training, habilitation, and employment services provider, based on the suicide of plaintiff's daughter, the court affirmed judgment for defendant where 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving a sudden emergency instruction, because the instruction was relevant to one of the issues in the case--defendant's response to at least the final part of the decedent's conduct--and correctly stated the law; and 2) the hindsight instruction echoed the district court's general negligence instruction, by stressing that the hallmark of ordinary care in this circumstance was what a reasonable and prudent person, while exercising ordinary care, would have done under the same or similar circumstances.

As the court wrote:  "Fallon Zebley (Fallon), a young woman with mental disabilities, died after she jumped from the fifth-floor fire escape on a building in Fargo, North Dakota. At the time of her death, Fallon was under the care and supervision of Heartland Industries of Dawson, Inc. (Heartland), a licensed non-profit day training, habilitation, and employment services provider. Fallon's mother, Jeanene Zebley (Zebley), brought this wrongful death action against Heartland."

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