Florida man Paul Merhige went on a murderous rampage during a family dinner on Thanksgiving Day in 2009 and killed four family members. Now, the parents of the Thanksgiving killer face a lawsuit by Muriel and Jimmy Sitton.
The Sittons are the Merhiges' cousins. The murders happened at the Sittons' house, where the Merhiges, including their son Paul, attended a holiday family dinner together.
The lawsuit alleges that the Merhiges could have prevented the slayings, which claimed the lives of Paul's twin sisters, his aunt, and Makayla Sitton, who was the Sittons' daughter, reports NBC Miami.
Makayla Sitton would have turned 8 this year, WPTV-TV reports.
The lawsuit alleges that the Merhiges knew that their son Paul was dangerous and violent. And, that they deliberately concealed the fact that Paul was planning to attend the Thanksgiving Day meal at the Sittons' house, NBC Miami reports.
The Sittons are seeking at least $15,000 in damages.
It's likely that they are seeking damages for wrongful death. Claims of wrongful death require that a death must have occurred as a result of someone's negligence or intentional harm.
Were the Merhiges' negligent for inviting their son to dinner?
There are indications that they suspected their son was dangerous. Paul had been on medication, but it's alleged that his parents knew he had recently stopped taking his pills. And, they knew that he owned a gun. His parents themselves slept with their door locked when Paul stayed at their home.
And, the lawsuit alleges that before the massacre Carole Merhige even remarked to one of her daughters that she hoped that Paul "doesn't come and kill us all tonight." And, apparently the Merhiges had lived in fear of their son's violent tendencies for years.
Was this negligence? Could the Merhiges really have foreseen the violence - and prevented it? Most likely, the Thanksgiving killer lawsuit is dependent on whether or not a court will believe that the Merhiges knew or reasonably believed that Paul Merhige would turn violent.