In a bizarre tragedy, 18-year-old college student Rebecca Kim fell to her death from an eighth-story Art Institute building window in Philadelphia last year. While police originally thought Kim slipped while taking photos from the window sill, messages on her Facebook page and other evidence led the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office to rule Kim's death a suicide.
But Kim wasn't the only casualty that day. During her fall she struck a pedestrian, 45-year-old Erica Goodwin, causing her severe injuries. Now Goodwin is suing Kim's estate, along with several other parties, and that's not the only lawsuit from the incident.
Suing the Suicide
Goodwin's injuries were extreme: seven vertebrae fractures in her spinal column, broken ribs, a fractured shoulder bone, and chipped and lost teeth. Her attorney, Joe Tucker, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Goodwin underwent spinal-fusion surgery and at times must use a walker to move around. Tucker contends Goodwin has been unable to work since the incident and remains permanently disabled.
Goodwin filed her lawsuit last Friday in Common Pleas Court against a range of defendants, including the administrator of Kim's estate, Pittsburgh-based Art Institutes and its parent company, the Art Institute students who lived in the apartment from which Kim fell, and the companies that managed and owned the building. The suit claims the building's owners and operators were negligent in failing to secure the windows, and that Kim's suicide has caused her to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially.
While Kim's estate is being sued, it is also filing suits of its own. The Inquirer reports that Richard Sin, Kim's uncle and estate administrator, filed a similar suit against the school and property managers in December. That lawsuit also claims the defendants "failed to properly secure the windows and take other measures to prevent students and their guests from going onto the window ledges."
If the school or property managers are found liable, they could end up owing both Ms. Goodwin and Ms. Kim's estate.