Pro Se Litigant Loses Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A plaintiff who lost her daughter on a Royal Caribbean Cruise filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company and ended up getting the case dismissed with prejudice. In other words, not only was her case tossed out of court, the dismissal is binding and she cannot refile the case. This, of course, is a teachable moment. Those who try especially emotional lawsuits against major corporations that have bottomless reserves for legal resources should not be emotionally invested in the cases they try. Why not? Let’s take a look.
Why the Plaintiff Lost this Lawsuit
The plaintiff elected to try this lawsuit against the recommendations of her family lawyer and the judge who presided over the case. After filing several motions that the judge called “useless” and violating a gag order by describing the defendant as a “killer” and comparing a quarantine as similar to something that happened during the Holocaust, the judge ruled that any jury pool would have been tainted and that the plaintiff showed absolutely no respect for the legal process whatsoever.
Initially, the woman had been offered a settlement of $500,000 which is low for a wrongful death lawsuit, but a lot of that number may have to do with the quality of her case against the cruise line. Her attorney recommended that she take the settlement and it appears that’s when the plaintiff decided to try the case on her own.
The court noted that pro se plaintiffs are still responsible for following the rule of law, abiding by court orders, and employing the same decorum as those who have passed the bar. The judge saw no other course of action other than to dismiss the case and sanction the plaintiff for a failure to abide by plainly stated directives.
Understanding the Case
In 2015, the woman went aboard a cruise ship with her daughter who was 17 years of age at the time. The daughter contracted salmonellosis (food poisoning) from some bad food and ended up with severe vomiting and diarrhea. Infirmary staff diagnosed the girl with a panic attack and released her. The girl died of stomach inflammation caused by a leak in her bowel.
While the cruise line denied liability, they also offered a settlement figure of $500,000. While that is not a lot for a wrongful death lawsuit, it is a lot for an initial settlement offer. A jury hearing the case would have likely determined that the conduct of onboard medical staff was not only stupid but offensive. Had the girl been given the proper care, she would have easily survived what is a very common illness.
On the other hand, the ship’s attorneys would have claimed that, while the girl contracted the illness aboard their ship, it simply aggravated a condition that was already there and that resulted in their death. Which is why it would have been smarter to not file the suit as medical malpractice (which is notoriously complex) and as a simple wrongful death action.
Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Today
While many find us unlikeable, having a skilled Jacksonville wrongful death attorney on your side will prevent your case from blowing up before it reaches a jury. Talk to Gillette Law today for help.