Bringing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing almost 50 people and injuring dozens of others.
Now, some of the families of the victims are bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the nightclub shooter’s wife and his former employer, claiming that they ignored crucial warning signs that he was mentally unstable. Some of the the people who were injured are also seeking compensation.
The lawsuit was originally filed in federal court but has been moved to state court in West Palm Beach.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act
If a loved one dies because of someone else’s negligence, that person’s family might be entitled to damages. Florida law designates spouses, parents, children, and any other dependents as “survivors” eligible for compensation in the event of a wrongful death.
Specifically, a survivor can file a wrongful death lawsuit when someone’s wrongful act, negligence, default of contract, breach of contract, or breach of warranty results in the loved one’s death. Survivors might be entitled to compensation for lost wages, lost companionship, emotional suffering and other types of damages, depending on whether the survivor is a spouse, parent, child or another dependent. The loved one may also seek damages to cover funeral expenses.
In the Pulse nightclub case, survivors claim that the shooter’s employer, G4S security firm, failed to comply with its own internal procedures. The shooter, Omar Mateen, allegedly made statements to his co-workers that should have raised questions about his mental state. The lawsuit further alleges that G4S was previously fined for falsifying other employees’ mental health validations. The shooter’s wife is also charged with having knowledge of her husband’s violent intentions and failing to tell the police.
Mistrial in Wrongful Death Lawsuit
It’s not always easy to prove that a loved one’s death should be compensated under the Wrongful Death Act.
A court recently declared a mistrial when the jury couldn’t agree whether a Palm Beach County sheriff’s sergeant was justified in shooting and killing an unarmed man. Lydia and Richard Adams lost their son Seth five years ago, but couldn’t convince the jury that Sgt. Michael Custer used excessive or unreasonable force and that the Sheriff’s Office should be held liable for his death.
Custer claimed that Seth attacked him and that he shot him because he was afraid for his life. Seth’s parents, on the other hand, claimed that the evidence refutes Custer’s story.
The jury said it was divided 7-2 in favor of Seth’s family. But a simple majority was not enough to avoid a mistrial.
A mistrial is an inconclusive trial, like one in which the jury can’t agree on a verdict. While the person who brought the lawsuit can try again, a wrongful death action is painful enough the first time around. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney who can make the legal process as painless as possible.
Contact Us Today
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, contact a West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona and Bradenton areas.