CNN and Headline News TV Host Nancy Grace are being sued by the parents of a woman who committed suicide after Grace interviewed her on her television show. Beth and Jerry Eubank say that Grace’s interview of Melinda Duckett regarding the disappearance of Duckett’s son, Trenton, caused the 21-year-old mother to commit suicide. The parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week.
Duckett had said that Trenton disappeared from his bedroom on the night of August 27, 2006. She remains the primary suspect in his disappearance.
The young mother taped a phone interview for Grace’s show after her son went missing. According to the lawsuit, Grace and her producers deliberately represented the reasons for the interview. According to the Eubank family attorney Jay Paul Derataney, “Within minutes of Melinda’s phone interview, it became quite obvious that Nancy’s questions weren’t about finding Trenton at all, but rather about impliedly accusing Melinda of murdering her beloved son.”
Melinda shot herself in her grandparents’ closet just hours before the interview was set to air. Her parents are seeking unspecified damages and funeral expenses.
Regarding the accusation that she contributed to Duckett’s suicide, Grace has said that they “are hateful, they are spiteful, and they are also ridiculous.”
A wrongful death lawsuit can result when someone is believed to have caused another person’s death due to his or her negligence or actions. In order for there to be a wrongful death case, all of the following elements must be present:
1) The victim’s death was caused either wholly or partially by the defendant’s behavior.
2) There is evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s death.
3) There are surviving beneficiaries and dependents (spouses, children, and parents) .
4) Monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.
Here is a summary of Maryland’s Wrongful Death and Intestacy Statutes:
According to Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904 (2000):
In Maryland, parents, children, and spouses can make a wrongful death claim to recover financial compensation for their losses and related expenses. If no children, parents, or spouse exist, then any person related by marriage or blood or has been dependent upon the deceased can file for wrongful death.
According to Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 3-102, et. seq. (2002):
1. A spouse and minor children (does not include stepchildren) — spouse receives ½ of the estate, minor
children share remaining 1/2.
2. A spouse and all adult children (not including stepchildren) — spouse receives $15,000 plus 1/2 of
remaining estate, adult children divide the remaining share of the estate (the interest of a predeceased child
passes to issue of that child).
3. Children only — children (does not include stepchildren) divide estate equally among children in
the same generation.
4. A spouse and parents — spouse receives $15,000 plus 1/2 of remaining estate, both parents divide the
balance or surviving parent receives the balance.
5. A spouse without other heirs listed above — entire estate passes to spouse.
6. Parents without heirs listed above — both parents divide entire estate or surviving parent takes all.
7. Brothers and/or sisters without other heirs listed above — brothers and/or sisters divide estate equally
(share of a deceased sibling goes to his or her issue— nieces and nephews of the victim).
According Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 3-102, et. seq. (2002), for when there are grandchildren that are eligible to receive compensation:
The property is divided into as many equal shares as there are children of the victim who survive the victim and children of the victim who did not survive the victim but had their own children who did.
Each child of the victim who did survive receives one share and the surviving issue of each child of the victim
who did not survive divide one share.
If you live in the Maryland and Washington D.C. areas and you have a family member who has died due to due what you believe is someone else’s negligence, the personal injury lawsuit of Lebowitz and Mzhen can help you. Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today for a free consultation to see if you have a wrongful death suit on your hands.
Family of Missing Boy’s Mother Sues CNN, Nancy Grace, CNN.Com, November 22, 2006
Nancy Grace Sued For Wrongful Death, The Smoking Gun, November 21, 2006
Facts on Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Contentmart.com
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