Hear the phrase “wrongful death lawsuit” and there’s probably a case that pops into your mind. The most recent might be the death of Joan Rivers. She went into her doctor’s office for a procedure that should have been performed in a hospital setting. Over the years there are others that you might be aware of and then there are some that might surprise you.
OJ Simpson’s case is one most everyone is familiar with. The world held its breath as the jury deliberated and then gaped in disbelief that the verdict was “not guilty”. Even though the criminal aspect of the case was over, the civil case was just starting. OJ Simpson was sued for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman by their families. The families were compensated with a monetary award over $33.5 million. They have yet to receive those funds as OJ Simpson filed a successful challenge to their award.
Talk show host Nancy Grace found herself as a defendant in a wrongful death suit when the guest on her show committed suicide after the appearance on the show. The family of Melissa Duckett claimed that Nancy Grace caused severe emotional trauma to Melissa during her aggressive questioning regarding the woman’s missing son. This emotional trauma led to Melissa’s suicide. The Duckett family settled for $200,000.
Remember the Ford Pinto? This cute little car was badly designed with a rear gas tank that exploded when involved in a rear end collision. The Ford Motor Company was sued by many people affected by these explosions. During one such trial, a Ford executive wrote a memo stating a human life was worth $200,000 in regards to correcting the design problem.
And how is a drug company found responsible for the death of a well-known actor? Pfizer pharmaceuticals found itself in just that position after the death of Phil Hartman. Phil was shot to death by his wife, Brynn, who then shot herself. The brother of Brynn sued Pfizer, who manufactured the drug Zoloft, an anti-depressant, which Brynn had been taking to ward off panic attacks. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount when Pfizer agreed to compensate the family.
It’s common for someone who has a loved one die suddenly to want to make someone responsible for the death. As many wrongful death cases show, this is, in fact the case.