Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit dealing with the naming of government defendants in a personal injury case. The case is instructive for Maryland premises liability plaintiffs because similar requirements are in place here in Maryland that may prevent a plaintiff’s full recovery if she fails to name certain parties in her complaint.

BoardwalkThe Facts of the Case

After a young girl died in an amusement park accident on a New Jersey boardwalk, her parents filed a premises liability lawsuit against several defendants, all of which were related to the amusement park operation. At the time of the accident, the plaintiffs’ daughter was on a school trip. The plaintiffs did not name their daughter’s school in the lawsuit.

In a pre-trial motion, the defendants collectively moved to add the daughter’s school, arguing that there was evidence suggesting the school officials were also negligent and partially responsible for the girl’s death. However, the defendants failed to provide timely notice of the pending lawsuit to the school.

Continue Reading

Earlier this month, the Michigan Supreme Court heard a case brought by a grieving mother against the lifeguard she claimed was responsible for her son’s death. In the case, Beals v. State of Michigan, the plaintiff’s 19-year-old son who suffered from severe learning disabilities drowned while at a state-run swimming pool designed for children with learning disabilities.

life-guard-4-1315238The evidence at trial showed that there were 24 others in the pool at the time of the boy’s death. The lifeguard, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was on duty but didn’t see the young man become submerged. In fact, no one in the pool saw the woman’s son go under water. It wasn’t until minutes later that another swimmer who had goggles on saw the boy at the bottom of the pool. Swimmers yelled for the lifeguard, but he didn’t respond for another several minutes. When emergency personnel arrived, they pronounced the boy dead.

The boy’s mother filed suit against the State of Michigan, as the operator of the pool, as well as the lifeguard, as a state employee. The lifeguard asserted “sovereign immunity” as a defense and asked the court to dismiss the case against him.

Continue Reading

Protests in Baltimore continued last week despite the Mayor’s recent announcement that he will be enforcing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew throughout the city. According to a recent article published by NPR, police responded to last week’s events with smoke and flash grenades. It is not clear how many people were injured by police in the riots so far.

police-squad-1-501818-mOf course, the impetus for the crowds in the streets of Baltimore was the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black male who after being arrested by police mysteriously suffered a serious spinal injury that eventually claimed his life.

Police Violence and Citizen’s Rights

There may be no more apt time than the present to discuss the rights of citizens to remain free from violent police actions, given the recent events in Baltimore. Generally speaking, police must act within the dictates of the law and may not use more force than necessary to effectuate a lawful arrest. Once an arrest is made, police are not permitted to “rough up” or otherwise harm someone who is in their custody. Indeed, this is what was so upsetting about the Freddie Gray situation.

Continue Reading

Due to a law enacted in the 1980s, Maryland plaintiffs are limited in the amount they are able to recover from municipalities across the state. According to an article by the Washington Post, this has led one woman to challenge the law that kept her from retaining the $11+ million award she received after a Prince George’s County police officer killed her husband while he was having a beer outside in Langley Park.

law-education-series-3-68918-mThe Facts of the Case

Evidently, the officer was off duty at the time and approached the woman’s husband because he was drinking in public. However, for some reason the confrontation escalated, and eventually the officer shot the man, killing him. The officer claimed that he was acting in self-defense, since the man was reaching for his gun. However, witnesses told a different story, explaining that the man never fought back and that the officer was the aggressor.

At Trial the Plaintiff Wins

At trial, the jury heard all the evidence and determined that the officer—as well as the County—was responsible for the wrongful death of the woman’s husband and returned a verdict in her favor for over $11 million.

Continue Reading

Earlier this week in Cleveland, Ohio, the family of a 12-year-old boy who was killed by police filed a lawsuit against the Department and the City, claiming that the officers’ negligent actions led to the death of their loved one. According to a report by one local news source, the incident occurred on the evening of November 22, when police responded to a report of a person with a gun on a playground.

gun-1428502-mEvidently, the responding officers pulled up right next to the child rather than parking farther away and approaching from a distance. A video from a nearby surveillance camera shows one of the officers shoot the boy within two seconds of exiting the car. According to the officers, they were responding to what they thought was the boy brandishing a firearm. In reality, it was an Airsoft gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets. The video shows that he wasn’t reaching for the gun.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers waited four minutes to call in for emergency responders after they shot the young boy. He was eventually taken to the hospital. However, he sadly died the next day.

Continue Reading

If you recall, last year a Maryland man was killed when he was accosted by three police officers for sneaking into a movie for which he didn’t have a ticket. The 26-year-old man had Down Syndrome and had walked back into the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” after seeing it once to watch it again. He did not have a ticket for the second showing.

red-theatre-chairs-1374249-m.jpg

Three Frederick County deputies were moonlighting as security guards for that particular theater, and they approached the man. The situation escalated, and the deputies eventually placed the man in handcuffs and dragged him out of the theater. At some point in the fray, the three deputies crushed the man’s larynx, which caused him to have difficulty breathing.

The deputies released the man and called emergency personnel, but it was too late. He had asphyxiated in the meantime.

Continue Reading

Back in 2011, a massive tornado swept through Missouri, ripping apart most buildings and homes in its way. One building that was destroyed was a Home Depot home-improvement store. Tragically, dozens of people were trapped inside as the 100,000-pound walls to the store fell. Eight died. In fact, all but 10 of the 73 walls fell inward as the roof was ripped off the store.

scrap-screws-1126964-m.jpg

Employees told customers to head towards the store’s training room, where they should remain safe. However, as one woman’s husband and two children made their way to the training room, the walls of the store fell on them, crushing them instantly.

The Missouri woman who lost her family in the storm accident recently filed a claim against Home Depot, the store’s designer, and the property owner, a Maryland-based company. The suit alleges that the building was not up to par back when it was built in 2001 and that, had it been constructed properly, the walls would have fallen to the outside rather than fall in on unsuspecting customers.

Continue Reading

In a recent report from the Associated Press, the attorney in charge of compensating the victims of the recent rash of crashes due to the GM recalls announced that there will be no limit to the amount of money GM will shell out to victims and their families. Currently, thirteen deaths have been linked to various accidents due to recalls in GM automobiles over the course of the last year. This figure, however, may be artificially low, as it relies on GM’s own admissions. It is expected that hundreds of other lawsuits will be filed once the specifics of the fund are established.

right-hand-drive-steering-whee-267179-m.jpg

The recalls affected a number of General Motor vehicles, but were primarily centered around the Saturn Ion and the Chevrolet Cobalt. Each of these vehicles had ignition switch problems that had the potential to leave drivers with no way to control the vehicle.

The attorney in charge of compensation—who is paid by GM, but is not technically an employee of the company—says that the most recent recalls will not be eligible for the limitless compensation fund, as the company sees the most recent recalls as a separate issue. Additionally, only those lawsuits alleging problems with a vehicle’s ignition switch will be eligible for the recovery fund.

Continue Reading

Last October, Secret Service agents and Capitol Police officers shot and killed a woman who failed to stop her black Infinity at a security checkpoint and led them on a chase throughout the nation’s capitol. According to an article by the National Journal, the officers and agents will not be prosecuted by the Justice Department. However, the civil charges alleging the wrongful death of the victim still remain.

white-house-ss-agent-1325-m.jpg

According to police documents, the woman failed to stop at a security checkpoint, knocking over a bicycle rack with her car, which knocked down a police officer. From there, she sped away towards Capitol Hill. She drove her car over a curb near the Reflecting Pool, where she was surrounded by officers. She then put the car in reverse and hit one officer. It was at this point that the officers shot the woman. She was shot five times from two different directions. Her 14-month-old child was in the back seat the whole time. The child was not injured, thankfully.

The Justice Department stood by the officers’ decision to use deadly force, explaining that situation fit within the parameters for the permissible use of deadly force. The family of the woman, however, still has a pending wrongful death action against the officers and the police force for using excessive and unnecessary force.

Continue Reading

Earlier this year, a man with Down Syndrome was killed when three police officers moonlighting as mall security officers tried to detain the man for repeatedly viewing the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” without a ticket. According to a report by the Washington Post, the officers tried to forcibly remove the man and in the process fractured his larynx, causing him to suffocate. The medical examiner listed the death as a homicide, but the district attorney decided not to press criminal charges.

law-and-order-7-977051-m.jpg

Evidently, the man’s family has filed suit against the State of Maryland, claiming that the treatment of their loved one was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The mall operator as well as the cinema are also named in the suit.

Maryland’s Response

The State of Maryland is asking the federal court hearing the case to dismiss the suit, arguing that the man was targeted by the police officers not because of his disability but because he was breaking the law.

Continue Reading

Contact Information