Articles Posted in Wrongful death

In 2006, Karan and Stan Eriksson’s 17-year-old daughter Mia was competing in an equestrian event. Kristi Nunnink was Mia’s riding coach. The horse struck a hurdle during the cross-country portion of the event at Galway Downs in Temecula, CA. Mia fell off her horse and the horse then fell on Mia, killing her. The Erikssons sued Nunnink for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They alleged that Nunnink substantially increased the risk Mia reasonably assumed by allowing her to ride a horse that ‘was unfit to ride because of prior falls and lack of practice” and concealing this condition from the Erikssons.
In an earlier appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed an order granting summary judgment for Nunnink. The case was then tried, and the court granted Nunnink’s motion for entry of judgment. The court relied, in part, on a release of liability entered into between Nunnink and Mia about six months prior to Mia’s death. The Erikssons appealed. They argued that the release of liability was ambiguous and did not apply to their claims and that, based on the evidence presented and the applicable law, the court erred in granting Nunnink’s motion for entry of judgment.
In the published Court of Appeal’s opinion, it held the release was enforceable and could be asserted by Nunnink as a defense to the Erikssons’ wrongful death and NIED claims and Nunnink can therefore be liable only if Mia’s death was caused by Nunnink’s gross negligence. In the unpublished portion, the Court concluded that the Erikssons failed to establish that Nunnink was grossly negligent. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Donald Martin, a worker at a paper plant, was killed by a machine while on the job. His widow, Nina Martin, attempted to sue the company that installed the machine, but that company no longer existed. Martin had difficulty determining which company was responsible for the installation company’s liability because of its complicated merger and acquisition history.

Because of that complicated history, Martin sued the incorrect company and did not realize who the responsible party was until after the statute of limitations expired. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review centered on whether Martin met the requirements of the rule that allowed plaintiffs to add the correct defendant after the statute of limitations period expired, and whether her inability to identify the correct defendant was due to inexcusable neglect.

The Court found that it was not: the record did not show that the proper defendant’s identity was easily ascertainable by Martin during the limitations period. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals.

The wife of a recently deceased West Virginia man has filed suit against Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, claiming that her husband’s gambling addiction caused him to commit suicide.

Stacy Stevens alleges her husband, Scott Stevens, shot himself on August 13, 2012, after he drained his family’s savings accounts to feed his gambling habit.

Scott Stevens had become addicted to slot machines and embezzled more than $7 million from the company where he was CFO. He was fired when he confessed to taking the money, according to the complaint filed Aug. 7 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

After a woman died in a hang gliding accident, a launch site operator “swallowed the memory card from his video camera affixed to the hang glider, for the purpose of destroying evidence,” the woman’s parents claimed in court.

Miguel Godinez and Helinda Ramirez claimed in British Columbia Supreme Court that their daughter, Lenami Godinez Avila, plunged 300 meters to her death after taking off for a tandem hang glider flight with defendant William Orders.

They also sued Hurlstone Ventures Inc., Shaun Wallace, Vancouver Hang Gliding, the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada, the British Columbia Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and the West Coast Soaring Club.

The parents of a 10 year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered last month have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her accused killer, according to Courthouse News.

Hailey Owens of Springfield, MO was kidnapped as she was walking home on Feb. 18. Her body was found the next day at Craig Michael Wood’s residence. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the lawsuit. Wood, a substitute teacher and football coach, was arrested and charged with Hailey’s murder.

Hailey’s parents, Stacey Barfield and Marcus Owens, sued Wood in Greene County Circuit Court. They are seeking punitive damages for wrongful death.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle,the family of a 6-year-old girl killed by an Uber driver on December 31, 2013 in San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against the driver as well as the company, claiming that use of the fast-growing online app violates California’s distracted-driving laws. The wrongful-death suit could weigh heavily in the debate over how companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar in the growing ride-services industry should be regulated – and to what degree they should be held liable for their drivers’ actions.

The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that the driver of the vehicle – who was at that time an Uber contractor – was logged on to the company’s UberX app when he fatally struck Sofia Liu and was waiting to receive a ride request. The company, which takes a cut of every ride booked through its system, declined to comment. In the past, Uber officials have said the driver, 57-year-old Syed Muzzafar of Union City, was not providing services on the company’s basic UberX system because he did not have a passenger with him.

The suit calls this a narrow view of how companies like Uber do business. Christopher Dolan, the Liu family’s attorney, said the phone-based interface that drivers use to find fares contributed to the death of Sofia, along with injuries to her mother, Huan Kuang, and 5-year-old brother, Anthony Liu. Dolan said Uber had denied insurance protection that would have covered the family and the driver.

A North Carolina man burned to death when his refrigerator overheated to more than 1,000 degrees and a fireball blasted into him as he opened it, his family claims in court.

As reported in the Courthouse News Service, Jane Walker Payne sued Whirlpool Corp. on behalf of Ashley Alvin Walker, in Randolph County Superior Court.

In March 2002, Walker bought a Whirlpool refrigerator which had a defective heating element pin in its icemaker, according to the complaint.

The family of a North Carolina teenager shot and killed by a stray bullet is suing the gunmaker, reports the Insurance Journal. A lawsuit filed Monday in Charlotte says the Remington Model 700 rifle misfired and the company was negligent in manufacturing it.

Almost two years ago, 16-year-old Jasmine Thar was killed and her godmother and a friend wounded by the same bullet as they were in the front yard. Investigations by the FBI and the state law enforcement agents determined the bullet came from a neighbor’s rifle that accidentally discharged while he was cleaning it.

Remington did not return messages seeking comment about the lawsuit. The Rockingham County-based company says on its website its Model 700 rifle is safe and malfunctions often involve alterations or improper upkeep. It has also been pointed out by gun experts that one should always empty any gun of bullets before cleaning or handling it.

As reported by the Southeast Texas Record, a Texas jury found Domino’s Pizza to be the negligent party in a delivery boy’s fatal collision, serving up a $32 million dollar verdict against the pizza chain.

Representing the estates of Devavaram and Ruth Christopher, attorney Raghurami Reddy filed suit against Domino’s IP Holder, Mac Pizza Management and driver Joshua Balka on Sept. 7, 2012, in Jefferson County District Court.

According to the plaintiff’s petition, on Aug. 11, 2012, the Christophers were traveling on S. Major Drive in Beaumont when Balka, a Domino’s employee, crossed the center lane and struck their car head-on. Ruth, 65, sustained injuries and died the next day while Devavram, 70, sustained a permanent traumatic brain injury and was left with no positive cognitive function.The case went to trial Aug. 12 in Judge Bob Wortham’s 58th District Court and ended Aug. 27.

As reported by CNN, an initial investigation shows no sign of foul play in the death of a woman who fell from a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas on July 19. “At this point of the investigation, it does not appear there was any foul play or criminality associated with this tragic incident,” according to a statement released by the Arlington Police Department. Six Flags confirmed that a woman died Friday while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster, but did not provide further details. She was identified by family members as Rosy Esparza.

Park medical staff and area paramedics responded immediately to the scene.”Since the safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority, the ride has been closed pending further investigation,” the theme park said in a statement.

Gabe Flores said he was next in line at the amusement park. “Me and my girlfriend were at the gates and the next ones to get on the ride … the cars came in and there was a man and a woman in the front,” he said. “The man was saying, ‘let me out, let me out, my mom fell off.’ “The man and woman were distraught and speaking in raised tones, said Flores, who lives in Benton, Texas. “There’s a turn that’s pretty steep, and the person behind her empty seat said she fell out there — just flew out,” he said.

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