Famous Wrongful Death Cases
Many times, people become aware of the existence of a wrongful death lawsuit when watching or hearing about famous cases making the headlines. Many famous wrongful death claims have happened in response to a criminal action. While the defendant might face criminal charges, they also face wrongful death claims and lawsuits to provide financial compensation to the decedent’s surviving family members. Below are some of the famous wrongful death cases in the last few decades.
Out of all the major stories in recent times, the O.J. Simpson trial made the already notorious figure even more widely recognized. In 1995, the former football player, sports broadcaster and actor was acquitted on all criminal charges involving the murder of his ex-wife Nicole, and her acquaintance Ron Goldman.
In a highly televised criminal trial, Simpson was found not guilty. The extensive and expensive criminal case was a phenomenon. However, soon afterwards, the surviving family members of Nicole and Ron sued Simpson by filing a wrongful death civil court suit. They were awarded compensatory damages in a judgment worth over $33.5 million. However, O.J. Simpson was successful in making a challenge in court. To date, both families have received almost no funds from the wrongful death judgment.
Nancy Grace Guest
Nancy Grace, a talk show host with CNN was sued in 2006 for wrongful death over the suicide of Melissa Ducket. The suit was filed by family members of the Florida mom who committed suicide a few days after Grace confronted her on air concerning the whereabouts of her missing young son. Even though Melissa was never formally charged with the disappearance of her son, Nancy aggressively questioned the young mother about the child’s whereabouts.
The family sued because they believed the talk show host inflicted intentional emotional distress on the young woman through angry insinuations that Melissa killed her son. The young mother took her own life prior to the pre-recorded show being aired. The family settled the case for $200,000.
Ford Motors Pinto Explosions
During the 1970s, the Ford Motor Company manufactured the Pinto, a popular and affordable sedan. Unfortunately, the automobile was designed with a rear mounted gasoline tank that easily ruptured when struck from behind, even in minor collisions. The unsafe design held Ford Motors liable for many wrongful deaths of drivers and passengers before they finally recalled the vehicle. After a long series of automobile explosions, many wrongful death claims were settled or heard in court. During one trial, a memo written by a Ford Motor executive indicated that the company placed a value of human life at $200,000, when deciding what to do to avoid correcting the problem. Considered a cost of doing business, the memo showed the egregious greed of the corporation.
In August 2010, Joe Jackson, the father of Michael Jackson, filed a lawsuit against Michael’s physician Dr. Conrad Murray. This was in response to the death of the famous pop star from an overdose of an anesthetic in 2009. The doctor administered frequent doses of Propofol, in an effort to treat Michael’s chronic insomnia. The prescription medication is not approved as a sleeping aid, and the unusually large dosage killed the singer. Even if the case had been successful, the doctor is reportedly deep in debt, with no assets to cover a big payoff.
Jenni’s husband Esteban Loaiza, a former MLB player, filed a wrongful death lawsuit one year after the death of his Latin music superstar wife. The aircraft Ms. Rivera and others were flying in crashed, killing all seven souls aboard. Esteban is seeking damages against the aircraft owner for unspecified damages, even though he was separated from Jenny at the time of the crash. Filed in February 2014, this wrongful death lawsuit will likely take years to resolve.
The wrongful cases listed above along with many others have captured the interest of the public, and made front-page news. Other famous cases have involved defective products that have fatally injured many Americans.