Recent Wrongful Death Cases in Ohio

What is a wrongful death? Well, it’s the legal term used to describe when someone dies because of another person’s negligence, or because of a willful or intentional action. The incident and the death may both very well have been an accident, but the fact that a person died makes it a very serious offense. And, if those who are close to the deceased feel that their loved one lost their life because of some sort of careless behavior, then they are within their rights to file a wrongful death claim. This is why you need a compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney in these delicate life occurrences that are full of grief.

Recent Wrongful Death Cases in Ohio

Different Types of Wrongful Deaths

There are many types of these fatal instances that a reputable Wrongful Death Lawyer would be able to help with. Here are some of the most common:

Medical Errors. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. die every year because of errors made by hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. In fact, According to a May 2016 John Hopkins piece, medical errors are the third highest cause of death in the U.S.

Product Liability. When products malfunction and people die as a result, then family members may have a wrongful death suit toward the company and/or the manufacturer. For example, Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor of The Telegraph, pointed out in one 2014 report that there were around 14,000 cases where medical equipment failed which led to over 300 deaths and several thousand others harmed.

Harmful Prescription Drugs. Thousands of people also die from dangerous medications annually. According to the U.S. News and World Report, the average number of deaths annually (from things like overdoses or from taking the wrong medications) over the last couple of decades has been 100,000, and many of the surviving family members felt it was necessary to pursue a wrongful death claim.

Deadly Car Accidents. This is one of the most common types of wrongful death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that when it came to these types of deaths (wrongful and otherwise), there are over 330,000 of them in the U.S. every year. And, all of those people did not die because it was their own fault.

Commercial Truck Accidents. Wrongful deaths that have occurred because of errors made by semi-truck drivers have happened recently in Ohio. For example, in May of last year, a red SUV was slammed into by one of these massive trucks and got pushed off the Combs-Hehl Bridge and into the Ohio River.

Faulty Roads. There are potholes and other bad road conditions that can sometimes make it hard for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. As a result, they may die in an accident, and a good Wrongful Death Lawyer can help you find the correct government agency to blame, the one(s) responsible for keeping the highways up to safe, smooth, drivable conditions.

Defective Tires/Bad Brake Systems. There have been many recalls over the years for vehicles that have had tire and brake problems, as well as other types of problems in manufacturing.

Drowning. Wrongful death lawsuits such as these are brought up by surviving family members because of everything from negligent lifeguards to boat accidents. For example, FindLaw states that “federal law and most state laws impose certain requirements on anyone operating a public pool”. And, if someone dies at a swimming facility as a result of not meeting these requirements, those in charge could very well be the blame for it.

Nursing Home Neglect. Families who have loved ones in nursing homes pay closer attention these days to the medical professionals who work there, being that many of our elderly citizens are dying because of instances of abuse and neglect at these facilities. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, about 30% of the nursing homes in America have received some sort of abuse citation.

Drunk Driving. When someone dies wrongfully because of a drunk driver, it’s always devastating for surviving family members and friends. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were over 17,000 people who died in motor vehicle accidents from January to June of 2016, and many of these were due to the irresponsibly of intoxicated motorists.

 

Who Can Legally File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a loved one dies in a wrongfully, family members can file a wrongful death suit for a number of reasons, and a caring Wrongful Death Lawyer can help them greatly with their case. But, in the State of Ohio, they have to follow what are called inheritance laws. No matter what losses they may be seeking damages for, all compensation has to be split equally according to the law. This is pretty easy to do if, say, three immediate siblings are splitting the money between themselves – they could simply divide by three. But, when the family members are related in varying degrees, it’ll be up to the court to decide what’s the fairest way to divide it up. Even if a spouse has remarried after their previous husband or wife has died, they still could be eligible to receive damages. But, if a parent previously abandoned a child who later died a wrongful death, they won’t be allowed to seek damages.

Generally, any immediate family members can collect damages from a winning lawsuit if they have an experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer on their team. This includes the children, the spouse, and the parents of unmarried children. There are other cases where financial dependents and/or recognized spouses could be compensated from parties who are responsible for their loved one’s death. Distant relatives such as grandparents could also receive compensation from damages. For example, if they were taking care of children from other parts of the family, they could benefit from awarded money just as a closer relative could.

 

Recently Reported Wrongful Deaths in Ohio

  • In July of 2017, an 18-year-old named Tyler Jarrell was on the Fire Ball ride at the Ohio State Fair, when all of a sudden he was flung from it and died. When the fair was about to open back up later on in the month, his family decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In a case such as this one, the main focus is finding out who was at fault. There could have been an issue with assembly, manufacturing, or negligent workers.
  • An 8-year-old from Ohio named Gabriel Taye hung himself with a necktie from a top bunk of a bunkbed after being repeatedly bullied at school. His parents filed a wrongful death suit against Cincinnati Public School. According to the report, it can hard to prove that school officials didn’t do all they could to prevent the bullying. This stems from a 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opinion in 2016. According to those judges, when school officials are aware of bullying, they are only required to respond in a way that is “not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances”.
  • The Akron Beacon recently reported in Sept 2017 that the parents of Kyle Richmond, a 16-year-old who was ran over by a school bus after falling off his skateboard a year earlier, just filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the bus driver and the school. Richmond was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Norton Police didn’t press any charges against the driver initially. But, Kyle’s family believes that the driver was poorly trained, and was negligent when the boy was hit by the bus.
  • The former employees of Chardon School District and Lake Academy Alternative School in Willoughby who were working there during the Chardon High School Shooting that left three kids dead and one paralyzed will be going before a jury in February of 2018. The News-Herald reported that the then-Lake County Common Pleas Judge, Joe Gibson, blamed just the shooter, Thomas Lane III. But, the judge did allow wrongful death claims to proceed against other people who were in certain positions at the time, such as the school Superintendent, the Manager of Operations, the Principal of the high school, as well as both Assistant Principals. The parents are claiming that the district did not do all it could to prevent this tragedy, and also that the Lake Academy staff didn’t warn the Chardon District that Thomas Lane was unstable (he attended the academy, but switched busses at Chardon).
  • The Legal Reader recently reported in late September 2017 that Cleveland’s Normandy Manor said that they’d pay $375,000 to settle the wrongful death suit for Suzanne Lawrence, an 83-year-old who died after her nurses gave her about twenty times more oxycodone than she was meant to have. Lawrence was supposed to receive five milligrams of it every five hours, but the nurses didn’t dilute it properly, resulting in her July 2015 death. Her death certificate read that she died from cardiorespiratory failure, but her medical records “confirmed that Ms. Lawrence’s death was caused by a drug overdose”. Statistics show that, over the last 36 months, there have been over 30 deaths caused by negligence in nursing homes in the State of Ohio.
  • In early November of 2015, Erica Huff (who was confined to a wheelchair), pressed her medical alert button for help when she felt fearful of the man who would eventually kill her, Lance Hundley. Reportedly, when the EMT’s showed up, she thought that help had arrived, and that her nightmare was over. But, Hundley just went to the door, told them that there was no emergency at the address, and they left, just like that. He then proceeded to beat her to death. Huff’s mother, Denise, showed up during the beating. Hundley then attacked her with a hammer, and tried to burn the house down with both of the ladies inside. Miraculously, Denise survived, and is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit because of the dispatcher’s failure to instruct the EMTs to do a personal assessment of Huff, and because she feels that the company was negligent in its hiring and training practices.
  • John Anderson of Montpelier was shot by the Edon Police Chief Thomas Szymczak in June of 2016. According to The Dispatch, after calling his in-home medical provider, Anderson told them that he wanted to end his life. They then contacted the local authorities, and when they showed up at his house Anderson was sitting on the front porch with a rifle. He pointed it towards the ground as instructed, and told police that he wasn’t going to hurt anyone, but that he didn’t want anyone there at the time. While all this was going on, Chief Szymczak got out of his police vehicle with an AR-15, cut off communication with his fellow officers, snuck over to a nearby field that was several dozen feet away from Anderson, and shot him in the back, through the heart. Anderson’s family claims that he had no reason to pull the trigger, being that the other officers on the scene had the situation under control.
  • The family of Lauren Seitz, an 18-year-old Ohio woman who contracted brain-eating amoeba during a rafting trip, is filing a wrongful death suit against the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Seitz reportedly died from a rare infection called meningoencephalitis that she got when she was thrown overboard into the water, and the surviving relatives are claiming that the facility breached its duty of care. County health officials said that they had previously shut down the center after discovering amoeba, but didn’t tell visitors that they could possibly be exposed to something deadly. They also feel that the center didn’t keep the water at the right temperature or chlorinate it properly.
  • In mid-July of 2017, the Columbus Dispatch reported on a Columbus native who had died in jail from an advanced stomach ulcer. The deceased, Robert Anthony “Boo” Wright, was found unconscious in his cell in July 2016 after being released from the infirmary there at the Lebanon Correctional Center, where they had told him that he was just constipated. Wright insisted that it was more serious being that the pain was sharp, and that constant pain and nausea had been going on for weeks. Still, they stuck to the same diagnosis of constipation, and simply gave him antacids. Shortly after, he told guards that he was having trouble breathing, and, just four months away from completing his year and a half sentence, he died. Wright’s family is seeking damages from the Department of Rehab and Correction in their wrongful death lawsuit.
  • A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in April 2017 by a mother who lost her daughter in a drowning incident. The woman, Julie Smith, is filing the suit against Charles Vlad, a man who admittedly bought alcohol for the deceased, 19-year-old Brandi Morgan. Charles was with Brandi at the scene and, according to reports, said that he tried to save her. The autopsy ruled her death as accidental, but that just didn’t sit right with Julie. Brandi’s blood alcohol content at the time of her death was about three times the limit for adults in the State of Ohio, and she wasn’t even old enough to drink. Vlad was caught on social media illegally buying wine for her the day before she died.

 

Contact Us at Slater & Zurz

There are many reasons why some family members will feel that they are legally entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, in the case we spoke of in the previous section where Brandi Morgan died after drowning intoxicated, her mother Julie Smith looked for damages for things like mental anguish, companionship, compensatory damages and burial expenses. The family members of the prisoner above, Robert Anthony “Boo” Wright, the man who died in jail from an ulcer that the medics thought was indigestion, have a wrongful death case and are looking for damages against the correctional facility, because there are things they suffer from as a result of his death. Some of them are mental anguish, loss of financial support, and the high cost of funeral services.

No amount of money awarded money can ever replace a loved family member. But, the dedicated wrongful death lawyers at Slater & Zurz realize that these awarded monies are meant to provide some support and comfort after they die. If the surviving family members were mostly dependent on the income of the deceased, whoever is found responsible for their death may have to pay damages for loss of support. Also, if the deceased provided certain services that the surviving family members depended on, such as taking care of children or performing household duties, allow our experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers to seek out damages for those things as well.

Even if the loved one who died was depended on for ongoing companionship or counseling, you may be entitled to compensation. There may have been an inheritance that the deceased was planning on leaving certain family members, and now that they have passed away those who were going to may never receive it. If this or any other of the aforementioned wrongful death situations sounds like yours, feel free to contact us today at Slater & Zurz for your free consultation.

 

Sources:

3 May 2016. Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. John Hopkins. Retrieved from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_suggests_medical_errors_now_third_leading_cause_of_death_in_the_us

Smith, R. 25 July 2014. Hundreds die each year in NHS due to faulty machines: report. Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10988112/Hundreds-die-each-year-in-NHS-due-to-faulty-machines-report.html

Perdomo, D. 24 June 2010. 100,000 Americans Die Each Year from Prescription Drugs, While Pharma Companies Get Rich. Alternet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/story/147318/100%2C000_americans_die_each_year_from_prescription_drugs%2C_while_pharma_companies_get_rich

Schroeder, M. 27 Sept 2016. Death by Prescription. US News & World Report. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-09-27/the-danger-in-taking-prescribed-medications

2016. Accidents or Unintentional Injuries. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm

11 May 2017. Wrongful death suit filed in bridge crash that sent car plunging into river. Cincinnati.com. Retrieved from http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2017/05/11/wrongful-death-suit-filed-bridge-crash-sent-car-plunging-into-river/101569584/

2017. Drowning. FindLaw. Retrieved from http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/drowning.html

2017. Wrongful Death. Nursing Home Abuse Center. Retrieved from http://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.org/types-of-abuse/wrongful-death/

Oct 2016. Traffic Safety Facts. DOT. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812332

Lory, C. 30 July 2017. Family of 18-year-old killed on carnival ride files wrongful death lawsuit, as Ohio State Fair rides reopen. WQAD. Retrieved from http://wqad.com/2017/07/30/family-of-18-year-old-killed-on-carnival-ride-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-as-ohio-state-fair-rides-reopen/

Sewell, D. Ohio parents’ wrongful death lawsuit tests school liability in bullying, child suicide. Press Herald. Retrieved from http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/12/parents-wrongful-death-lawsuit-tests-school-liability-in-bullying-child-suicide/

Warsmith, S. 15 Sept 2017. Mother files suit against Norton school district and bus driver in death of teen son. Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/local/mother-of-norton-high-teen-struck-by-school-bus-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-against-district-driver

Read, T. 31 Aug 2017. Chardon High School shooting: Trial date set for wrongful death suit against former employees. News-Herald. Retrieved from http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20170831/chardon-high-school-shooting-trial-date-set-for-wrongful-death-suit-against-former-employees

Teller, S. 20 Sept 2017. Ohio’s Elderly Care Subpar at Best: Nurses Cause Overdose. Legal Reader. Retrieved from http://www.legalreader.com/ohios-elderly-care-sub-par-best/

Barrett, L. 12 Sept 2017. Lawsuit alleges negligence by EMTs in the death of a Youngstown woman. WFMJ. Retrieved from http://www.wfmj.com/story/36317548/lawsuit-alleges-negligence-by-emts-in-the-death-of-a-youngstown-woman

17 June 2017. Family of Ohio man killed by police files wrongful death lawsuit. The Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170617/family-of-ohio-man-killed-by-police-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit

Schladdebeck, J. 20 June 2017. Family of Ohio teen killed by brain-eating amoeba files wrongful death suit against whitewater rafting facility NY Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/family-18-year-old-killed-brain-eating-amoeba-files-lawsuit-article-1.3262756

Ludlow, R. 12 July 2017. Ohio inmate dies of untreated ulcer after being diagnosed with constipation, Lawsuit says. The Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170712/ohio-inmate-dies-of-untreated-ulcer-after-being-diagnosed-with-constipation-lawsuit-says

Warsmith, S. 20 April 2017. Mother of 19-year-old drowning victim files $5 million wrongful death suit against man, 57, who said he was teen’s best friend. Ohio.com. Retrieved from https://www.ohio.com/akron/writers/mother-of-19-year-old-drowning-victim-files-5-million-wrongful-death-suit-against-man-57-who-said-he-was-teen-s-best-friend

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