The family of Christopher Ausherman, Jr., the 9-year-old boy killed in 2005 by a convicted sexual offender who was wrongly released from prison, is asking for up to $775,000 more from either the Maryland General Assembly or Maryland’s Board of Public Works. The state of Maryland had recently paid Ausherman’s parents $200,000 to settle the wrongful death claim. This amount is the largest that the state treasurer’s office can pay in a wrongful death suit. The Board of Public Workers, however, is allowed to pay more. The attorney for Mary Voit, Ausherman’s mother, says that she is seeking a total of $975,000, which is the maximum in compensatory damages allowed in Maryland.
Christopher Ausherman, Jr. was murdered on November 19, 2000 by Elmer Spencer Jr., who sexually assaulted Ausherman and bludgeoned him to death in a baseball field dugout. Spencer, a mentally retarded man with a history of rape and assault, had been released from prison on November 14 after serving 3 ½ years of a 10-year prison sentence. He is now serving two life terms, in addition to 20 years in prison, for convictions relating to Ausherman’s death. Ausherman’s parents are accusing the state of miscalculating the good-time credits that led to Spencer’s early release. The state of Maryland disagrees with this accusation and claims that Spencer’s good behavior resulted in his mandatory release.
A wrongful death case is a civil case where monetary compensatory damages are sought for the death of a person. Unlike in a criminal case where there must be proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a wrongful death case asks that there be a preponderance of the evidence that more than likely (a 51 % chance) the party being sued is guilty.
A “wrongful death” is considered to have taken place when a person is killed due to:
· Someone’s negligence or careless action.
· An intentional act, such as murder.
· Reckless behavior.
The deceased person’s loved ones are considered to also have been injured by this death, especially if they relied on the person for financial or emotional support.
In Maryland, the statute of limitation for filing a wrongful death suit is three years from the date of death, unless a person’s wrongful death was caused by a work-related disease. In the case of the latter, then the statute of limitations is either less than 10 years from the date of death or no more than three years from when the cause of death is found out.
The personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen represents clients in Maryland and Washington D.C. who wish to make a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one due do someone’s negligent or reckless behavior. To make an appointment for a free, no obligation consultation, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today.
Larger Death Settlement Sought, Baltimoresun.com, November 28, 2006
Family Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Maryland, NBC4.com, November 27, 2006
Related Web Resources:
Summary of State Wrongful Death and Intestacy Statutes (PDF)