Wrongful Death Lawsuits Related to Weather

October 8, 2012

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death and weatherThree separate wrongful death suits have been filed in connection with weather incidents which occurred in various parts of the nation.

One recent weather tragedy resulting in a wrongful death lawsuit occurred in Scofield Reservoir, Utah where two Boy Scouts were struck by lightning during a camping trip last summer.  Twelve-year-old David Rayborn was killed when he was struck directly in the chest.  A Scout with David was also hit by the lightning, but survived.  He continues to suffer from dizziness, memory loss, depression, fatigue, back pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court records.

The lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and its National Park Council seeks unspecified damages for Rayborn’s survivors and accuses troop leaders of endangering the children by taking them into a thunderstorm-prone area where they would potentially be exposed to lightning.  The leaders should have known there was no safe place outdoors, the suit maintains.  The group sought shelter from a hailstorm on top of a ridge 100 feet from a mess hall.  The Scouts require leaders of outdoor activities to receive online training about lightning safety.

The lawsuit contends the National Park Council and the Boy Scouts had information storms were in the forecast and that the area where the Scouts were camping had been hit by lightning for seven days prior to the Scouts’ arrival.  Ironically, David was hiking more slowly than the rest of the group to stay with his friend who suffers from asthma.

A second weather-related wrongful death suit arises from the Joplin, Missouri tornado in May 2011.  The spouse and daughter of 62-year-old Stanley Kirk have filed a wrongful death claim against Wal-Mart in Joplin.  Kirk was one of three people to die inside the Wal-Mart Supercenter during the storm that killed a total of 161 Missouri residents.

Family members also seek unspecified damages, citing pain and suffering, the loss of Kirk’s income, and funeral and medical expenses.  They allege that the deceased was not allowed to leave the store after the tornado siren sounded, although he lived only three miles away in an area that was unblemished by the storm.  Instead, the suit maintains, the aircraft engine technician was taken to an unsafe area of the store.  The family alleges store officials had no proper emergency plan in an area that was at high risk for tornados.  The defendant’s actions and deliberate decisions negligently caused the severe injuries which resulted in Kirk’s death, the wrongful death lawsuit alleges.

Plaintiffs allege that the store doors were locked preventing Kirk from leaving and not allowing emergency personnel access into the facility.  The suit contends that this Wal-Mart was not constructed properly for the risk of violent storms. There was also a lack of signage identifying safe/tornado refuge areas.

A third weather-related wrongful death suit was recently settled by the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  and Allegheny County with the son and daughter of a man who died during a February 2010 blizzard. Curtis Mitchell, who was suffering severe abdominal pain, contacted emergency personnel 10 times over a 30-hour period during the severe storm to no avail.  The suit alleged negligence and misconduct by EMS employees and 911 operators.

Emergency personnel got within one quarter mile of Mitchell’s residence three times,.   But the 50-year-old resident died near the end of the ordeal.  The city operates the EMS facility and the county operates 911 dispatching.

The emergency workers were publicly criticized after Mitchell’s death for not going to a fire-station and borrowing a four-wheel drive vehicle to rescue him or finding some other means to get to the ailing citydweller.  Initially, two EMS supervisors were disciplined, one paramedic was suspended and another was fired following the incident.  (The fired paramedic was later reinstated.)

Each state has wrongful death statutes which dictate who can make a wrongful death claim and what damages they can recover.  If you file a wrongful death claim in Ohio for the loss of a loved one, you may seek remuneration for loss of consortium (a claim for damages sought in recompense for the loss of conjugal relations, including society, affection, assistance and impairment or loss of sexual relations) and, in some cases, support.

When a wrongful death claim is filed, it is not, as one may think, for the untimely death of the victim.  Claims need to involve issues to which a monetary value can be assigned.

The survivors, often the spouse and children, file for the wrong done to them.  They can cite the loss of financial support the wrongful death has caused, along with loss of consortium.

Ohio’s wrongful death claims often lead to the defendant’s insurer providing a structured settlement that pays for the education of dependent children.  Such an arrangement can also be used to provide a spouse with lifetime support.  Insurers may agree to assist in more unusual ways, such as helping a surviving spouse to purchase a home.

Losing a loved one through a wrongful death accident, whether it is weather-related or caused by another event leaves a tragic shadow over a family.  If you have suffered the loss of a spouse or other individual due to the fault of another, contact the lawyers at the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP.  They are experienced in Ohio wrongful death claims.  Call 1-888-353-0379 to schedule a time to talk or send a message from the website at ohiowrongfuldeathlaw.com.

Remember there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Ohio.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

View all posts by slaterzurz


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: