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AZ Family Told Daughter Abby Guerra Was Dead

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 11, 2011 9:47 AM

Arizona family Sergio and Maria Guerra mistakenly received some tragic news as a result of fatal crash mix-up. They were told that their daughter, Abby Guerra, 20, had died in a car accident.

Except, in reality, Guerra had survived the crash - her friend, Marlena Cantu, was the one who died. Officers had mistakenly identified Guerra as the crash victim, reports USA Today.

Guerra was in the hospital in critical condition. Six days had lapsed in between the time authorities first notified Guerra's family of her "death" and the time that they notified her family that she was actually alive.

Guerra and her friends, including Cantu, had been returning home after a trip to Disneyland when they got into a car accident, reports KSAZ-TV.

After Guerra's family was notified, they had begun to make funeral arrangements when they were notified that she was actually still alive. The family has now sued the Department of Public Safety, alleging that the public agency violated their policies in identifying victims of accidents, according to KSAZ-TV.

The family says that they filed the lawsuit in order to get the Department of Public Safety to revise its procedures on how to identify victims, according to AZFamily.

What are some of their possible legal claims? It's possible that the family could have pursued a claim on the theory of intentional infliction of emotional distress over the false news that their daughter was dead. In order for this claim to survive, however, the Department of Public Safety's actions must have amounted to extreme and outrageous conduct that caused severe emotional distress for the family.

Whatever the case, the family of Abby Guerra indicated through their attorney that they are not pursuing the case for the money, though they have asked for $250,000 in damages. Their main hope is that no other family has to go through a similar fatal crash mix-up, and that victims are correctly identified.

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