Wrongful DeathLosing a loved one is always difficult.  When the death is the result of the negligence or misconduct of a third party, the challenges can be even more daunting.  Surviving families can take steps to recover for their loss, as best they can, by filing a lawsuit for wrongful death.  A recent incident involving the death of an 8-year-old boy, who died as a result of an E. Coli infection demonstrates how the negligent acts of others can result in a tragic wrongful death lawsuit.
The claims against Rain Crow Ranch
Rain Crow Ranch, a Doniphan, Missouri farm which also owns a nearby beef processing facility (Fruitland American Meat, in Jackson, Missouri), has been sued by a couple whose son died after eating a hamburger allegedly tainted with E. coli.  The meat was processed by the Missouri farm and then sold at a Whole Foods store in Massachusetts.  The family filed a wrongful death suit in Boston federal court in December of 2014.  It was reported that at least two other people were also sickened by the same beef, which resulted in a recall of approximately 368 pounds of ground beef.  The meat processing plant, Fruitland America Meat, also made news earlier in 2014 when it was also forced to recall two tons of beef considered to be at risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease.  Luckily, no illnesses were reported in association with that particular recall.
Defining Wrongful Death
A “wrongful death” claim arises when a person dies as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another. The dependents or beneficiaries of the person who was killed may be entitled to monetary compensation for that person’s death. In Missouri, the action is defined as “the death of a person result[ing] from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof.”
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Missouri, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren are first in line to bring a wrongful death claim. The parents are next in line to bring the claim. If the claim involves the death of a child, the parents are generally the ones that file the wrongful death claim. If none of those individuals survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling will be allowed to bring the wrongful death suit.
Recovery in wrongful death cases
The survivors of the victim are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses.  In Missouri, monetary damages can include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness, value of wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned, pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death, and the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members.
If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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