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Judge Issues Landmark Recommendation in a Jacksonville Boy’s Wrongful Death Case

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A federal magistrate judge made a recommendation for a default judgment to be issued against the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for its egregious conduct in the death of a 14-year-old boy. The 14-year-old boy died only eight days after he was sent to a juvenile detention center after a burglary charge. The young teenager complained of a headache and stomach pains. He received no medical attention other than Tylenol. He died of bacterial meningitis. Investigation into the death revealed that the staff failed this child. The judge “lambasted the Department of Juvenile Justice for its ‘blatant’ and ‘willful’ disregard of its legal obligation to turn over video surveillance” in this case, according to The Florida Times-Union. The DJJ resisted the young boys family’s attempt to hold it accountable so much that it resulted in the landmark recommendation. The DJJ did not turn over video surveillance of the hours leading to the boy’s death.

The default judgment is a severe remedy to a judge, essentially giving victory to a plaintiff. In this case, the judge’s recommendation still needs to be adopted by the district judge. Should this recommendation be adopted, the only thing left to decide will be the jury’s determination of damages.

What is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death case is a civil lawsuit that is brought when the negligence of one causes the death of another. In Florida, the statute states, “when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty,” the estate may bring a lawsuit. There are essentially three elements:

  1. There must be conduct that is a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract;
  2. This conduct must have caused the death; and
  3. The conduct must entitle the person injured to bring about the action and recover damages.

Who May Bring the Lawsuit?

When a person dies, they often leave an “estate,” comprised of their assets gained over a lifetime. The personal representative of the estate can bring the wrongful death case, but this limits damages.

Additionally, the Florida Wrongful Death Act states that the following individuals may bring a wrongful death claim:

  • Decedent’s spouse;
  • Decedent’s children;
  • Decedent’s parents; and
  • Blood relatives that were dependent on the decedent.

What Types of Damages Are Available? 

The above mentioned claimants may recover:

  • Lost support and service;
  • Loss of companionship and protection from the decedent;
  • Mental pain and suffering;
  • Loss of parental companionship, guidance, and instruction; or
  • Medical/funeral expenses that were paid by the surviving individual.

The estate of the decedent may be able to recover:

  • Loss of net accumulations;
  • Lost earnings of the decedent; and
  • Medical and funeral expenses of the decedent.

Contact Us Today

If you think you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, choose an attorney that has more than two decades of experience. At Gillette Law in Jacksonville, we provide the highest quality of legal services, combined with an unparalleled understanding of the needs of a client. While dealing with the loss of a loved one, choose an attorney that has experience and skill to handle your case.

Resource:

jacksonville.com/news/20180216/judge-issues-rare-default-recommendation-against-djj-in-jacksonville-boys-death

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