According to Maryland law, a wrongful death implies a fatality that occurred as a result of other party’s negligence or unlawful actions. A number of situations can result in wrongful death, and when a wrongful death occurs, families have the right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for what they’re loved one was put through, as well as the consequences related to the loss.
Wrongful death claims are made all over the country. The following cases exemplify what justice looks like when a loved one’s life has been wrongfully taken:
Mental Health Agency Neglected Duty, Suicide Resulted
In October of 2018, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds settled a wrongful death lawsuit for six million dollars regarding the loss of his son in 2013. His son, Austin Deeds, committed suicide after stabbing Senator Deeds multiple times at their family farm. The lawsuit was filed against a former employee of Gentry – a local mental health agency.
After determining Austin Deeds was a danger to himself and those around him, the agency had six hours to find a bed in a mental health facility before he would be free to leave the hospital. Gentry claimed to have been unable to locate a space for Deeds, but a state investigation later revealed the agency did not call 27 of the 34 possible facilities – five of which had room to take a patient.
The initial lawsuit was filed against the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Rockbridge Area Community Service Board and Gentry; however, it was dropped because of sovereign immunity. It was determined that Gentry was responsible for the wrongful death because they did not follow through with protocol and did not work to find Deeds a place where he could have received the help he needed.
Ford Motor Pinto Case
In the 1970s, a number of Pinto vehicles exploded. This lead to several wrongful death lawsuits against Ford. It was found that explosions were occurring because of the location of the gas tank. The tank was rear-facing, so even the smallest rear-end collisions could result in a rupture.
Some of the lawsuits filed resulted in millions of dollars of compensatory damages and punitive awards because Ford was found to have been liable for electing to not redesign a defective product in order to maximize its bottom line. Ford eventually recalled the model completely.
Reckless Shooting Results in Compensation for Family
In 2015, India Kager was driving from Maryland to Virginia Beach with her child and her child’s father, Angelo Perry. Perry was wanted by law enforcement for a series of violent crimes. SWAT officers believed Kager was driving Perry to a location to commit murder. When pulling into a 7-Eleven, a shootout between Perry and the police commenced. Both Kager and Perry were killed.
Kager’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against four Virginia Beach police officers, arguing that the officers acted with gross negligence when they fatally shot Kager and Perry. They also argued that the police knew it was possible a third person was in the vehicle when they launched their assault. That individual was a four-month-old baby. As a result of the lawsuit, in August 2018, jurors ruled against two of the four officers and awarded Kager’s family $800,000.
Family Awarded Millions for Wrongful Death After Police Shooting
In August 2016, Korryn Gaines was killed by Baltimore County police in a standoff that also resulted in the injury of her five-year-old son. Officers were serving a warrant for failure to appear in court over a traffic case. When police kicked open the door, they found Gaines waiting with a shotgun. After a six-hour confrontation, Gaines was killed and her son was injured by a ricocheted bullet.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family. While the officer in question testified to have believed Gaines was raising her weapon to fire, the family’s attorney disputed this because Gaines had been shot in the back. Based on the case that was presented, six female jurors decided in less than three hours that the Baltimore Country officer violated the civil rights of Gaines and her son. The civil suit resulted in $37 million dollars of compensation – $32 million of which was awarded to the young boy.
13-Year-Old is Awarded Millions After Wrongfully Losing Parents and Brother
In 2009, the Asam family was traveling from Southern California to Oregon for Thanksgiving. Their vehicle got stuck under a tractor-trailer that was parked on the shoulder of the interstate. A fire broke out and nine-year-old Kylie Asam and 11-year-old Blaine Asam were the only two able to escape from the vehicle. Their parents and older brother were trapped in the fire and died.
A wrongful death lawsuit found a California trucking company to be responsible for the deaths. One of the company’s drivers parked on the side of the freeway in the early morning without leaving on any lights or emergency reflectors. The driver had pulled over to sleep, even though written warnings said that stopping was only allowed in the event of an emergency. When the Asam’s vehicle pulled over so the father could take medicine for a severe headache, they became lodged under the truck.
It took jurors three days of deliberation before finding the truck driver negligent for parking where he had without emergency indicators. The verdict awarded more than $150 million in damages to the 13-year old, whose surviving brother committed suicide on their mother’s birthday prior to the start of the trial.
The Nancy Grace Case
Nancy Grace was sued in September 2006 for the wrongful death of a woman who killed herself a few days after Grace confronted her on national television about the disappearance of her two-year-old son. The mother had not been a suspect in the case of the missing child; however, during the interview Grace aggressively grilled the woman about the whereabouts of the boy.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed after the woman committed suicide. The family’s attorney said Grace caused the death because the intense conversation, for which there was no evidence to support or warrant and insinuated the mother had murdered her son, caused intentional emotional distress. A settlement of $200,000 was made for the case in 2010 and the money was to be used to attempt to find the young boy.
Based on the examples above, it’s clear that wrongful death cases can be complex and often take a significant amount of time to resolve. If you’ve wrongfully lost a loved one, our attorneys are prepared to represent you. We have the experience needed to produce the outcome you and your family deserve for the loss of your loved one. For more information, contact our law firm today.