Entries in Wrongful Death Suit (3)


Missing "People's Court" Mom's Family Files Wrongful Death Suit

ABC News (ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The mother of missing Florida mom Michelle Parker has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Parker's ex-fiance, who is the father of two of her children.

Parker, 33, of Orlando, Fla., has been missing since Nov. 17, 2011, the same day her appearance on The People's Court television show aired. She and Smith appeared in the episode to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring.

Parker was last seen dropping off the couple's twins at Smith's home.

Police named Parker's ex-fiance Dale Smith as the prime suspect in the case, but no charges have been filed and no arrest has been made. He still has custody of the children. But the attorney for Parker's family claims he has evidence against Smith, including text messages.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, claims that Dale Smith was "negligent or otherwise committed a wrongful act and caused the death of Michelle L. Parker."

Parker's Hummer was found after her disappearance as was her battered iPhone, at the bottom of a lake. Though the cell phone was found about 40 minutes from Parker's home, the lake is only five minutes from Smith's home.

Parker's body has not been found, but the lawsuit claims that Parker "died on or about November 17, 2011 as a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Defendant."

"That's the day we believe it happened," Parker estate attorney John Morgan told ABC News. Parker's mother Yvonne Stewart represents her daughter's estate, which includes her three children.

"[Yvonne Stewart] doesn't want to believe it happened, but everyone knows what happened and when it happened," Morgan said. "We think she was killed."

Morgan said the legal team is not ready to elaborate on the details of what they believe happened to the mother of three, but said he will let the lawsuit speak for itself for now.

"If the said Defendant had not been negligent or otherwise committed a wrongful act, and if said Defendant had acted appropriately in accordance with the prevailing standard care of the Defendant, there would not have been any injuries or damages sustained by Michelle L. Parker," the filing states.

More than a year after Parker's disappearance, detectives are still investigating her case.

"It's still an open investigation," Orlando Police Sgt. Jim Young told ABC News Friday. He spoke to the case's lead detective on Thursday who said there are no updates in the case and Smith is still listed as a suspect.

Morgan claims he has evidence against Smith, including text messages between Parker and Smith.

"We just think that we have some pieces that when taken with testimony may tell a more full story and that testimony has to come from Dale and his parents."

Asked if he could elaborate on the content of the messages, Morgan said, "I don't want to say. I don't want him to be ready for that."

"We'll be most interested when we get a chance to depose him," Morgan said. "Will he take the fifth or tell the truth?"

Smith could opt out of answering most questions by pleading the fifth in the civil case to prevent incriminating himself in any possible future criminal case.

Smith's attorney Mark Nejame refutes the claims made by the Parker estate's attorney.

"They're barking up the wrong tree," Nejame said. "They've been frustrated for a long time because law enforcement hasn't found a scintilla of evidence that ties him to her disappearance or murder...Just because everyone thinks he did it doesn't mean he did it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Jury Finds Virginia Tech Negligent in Wrongful Death Trial

Hemera/Thinkstock(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- A spokesman for Virginia Tech expressed the administration's disappointment Wednesday after a jury determined the university was negligent in its response to the 2007 campus shootings, which left 33 dead.

"We are disappointed with today's decision and stand by our long-held position that the administration and law enforcement at Virginia Tech did their absolute best with the information available on April 16, 2007," Mark Owczarski, director of news and information and spokesman for Virginia Tech, said of the jury's decision Wednesday.

The jury awarded $4 million each to the families of two students who died in what is said to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, according to The Roanoke Times. The families likely will not see all of the money, though.  Virginia law requires the amount awarded be capped at $100,000. The Roanoke Times reports a judge will rule on the final award at a later date.

Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde might have survived the massacre if Virginia Tech officials had warned students of Seung-Hui Cho's earlier dorm shootings 2 1/2 hours before the killing finally ended, the families said.

The Virginia state panel report, the Federal Department of Education and now a state civil court jury have all found that Virginia Tech's administration erred in their responsibilities to the campus community that day.  

Still, Owczarski maintains the "heinous crimes of Seung-Hui Cho" were an unprecedented act of violence that no one could have foreseen.

The Virginia Tech administration plans to "discuss this matter with the attorney general, carefully review the case, and explore all of the options available."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family of College Football Star Shot by Police Intend to File Wrongful Death Suit

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Three months after a college football player in New York was shot and killed by police during an altercation outside a bar, his family said Tuesday they intend to take the first steps towards filing a wrongful death suit against police.

"All we're looking for is the absolute truth," Danroy Henry Jr.'s mother, Angella Henry, told ABC News.

Henry, a 20-year-old student at Pace University, was killed in October as he sat in his car with his friends after a night out celebrating a homecoming game in suburban Thornwood, N.Y.

There are differing accounts of what happened. Police say they were responding to an unruly crowd outside a bar, and when officers approached Henry's car parked in a fire lane and knocked on the window, the college student tried to speed away and struck an officer. Police say a second officer, Aaron Hess of the Mount Pleasant police department which responded to the disturbance, was thrown onto the hood of Henry's car. Police say Hess then fired in self-defense.

Several eyewitnesses say the police overreacted and that Henry was trying to move his car out of the fire lane when the police opened fire.

"The path of the bullet shows that as D.J. tried to move and get out of the vehicle, the officer shot directly at him," said Michael Sussman, an attorney for the Henry family, who disputes the police account of the incident.

Sussman said the Henrys would like to see murder charges filed.

A grand jury has been convened to hear evidence in the case. The family has not been allowed to attend the grand jury proceedings, which is standard procedure. But Danroy Henry Sr. said he has been asked to testify.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio