When a person dies or is killed from a negligent or an intentional harmful act, the surviving members of the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim against the person and/or entity who is legally liable for the death. With negligence, Berkowitz and Hanna LLC knows, it must be proven that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care but failed to fulfill this obligation, and that the direct result of that breach was death—thereby causing the damages that the plaintiff is seeking for restitution. In a recent Clearwater (Florida) wrongful death suit, the Brown Boxer Pub & Grille and manager Jay Thomas are both being sued for negligence by the family of David McTamney, who died from a chokehold inflicted by the pub’s bouncer.
51-year-old McTamney was grabbed and dragged outside by the bouncer, Paul Stucker. Stucker, with a criminal record for assault and battery, held McTamney in a chokehold for over two minutes, even though the victim had stopped moving. No pub staff or patrons intervened until after the bouncer released McTamney. CPR efforts were unsuccessful and McTamney was pronounced dead at the hospital. His death was ruled as “a homicide by asphyxiation.” The McTamney family claims that the pub and its staff “failed to provide a reasonable level of safety” and are seeking $15,000+ in damages and attorneys’ fees. Paul Stucker faces a felony manslaughter charge.
It is common, notes Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, for wrongful death cases to follow a criminal trial. However, because there are different standards, liability in a civil court does not necessarily mean there will be a guilty verdict in criminal court.
Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.
Photo by bloomsberries via Flickr.com.