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Wrongful death

March 17, 2010
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Trial Report

Jennifer Murphy, as parent of Travis Tyler Hensley, deceased v. DB Mobile Home Park

Pre-lawsuit mediation by Peter Schroeder

Injuries: Death of a 13-year-old boy

Date: Dec. 4, 2009

 

Disposition: $500,000 settlement

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Steven M. Crell, Cohen Garelick & Glazier, Indianapolis

Defendant Attorney(s): Kyle M. Baker, McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold, Shelbyville

Insurance: Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Co

Case Information: On June 20, 2009, 13-year-old Travis Tyler Hensley was sleeping in his bedroom of a trailer his family rented in the Clermont Mobile Home Park when a fire started in the mobile home. Tyler’s mom, Jeni Murphy, woke up as the fire was engulfing the mobile home. After initially escaping the fire, she tried to re-enter the mobile home to save her son. She was unsuccessful and her son died of smoke inhalation.

Tyler’s family argued that the window to Tyler’s bedroom could not be opened and that there was no working smoke alarm in the mobile home. They argued that housing codes were violated and the landlord, DM Clermont Mobile Home Park (DM), was responsible for Tyler’s inability to survive and escape the fire.
DM claimed the fire may have been caused by an electrical appliance or by a member of Tyler’s family. It claimed the window was put in place before the current housing codes and was therefore “grandfathered” from the application of the housing codes. It also claimed that the smoke alarm in the mobile home was functioning.

Pete Schroeder did a masterful job of mediating the dispute. He was able to demonstrate to both parties the risks involved in litigating the dispute and the benefit to a negotiated settlement. The case settled at mediation for a payment to Tyler’s mom in the sum of $500,000. The benefit to pre-suit mediations cannot be overstated. The parties not only saved substantial costs and attorneys’ fees, but also were able to promptly resolve a claim that would surely have taken several months or years to resolve and allowed Tyler’s family to receive some measure of closure following his death.

 - Steven M. Crell

 

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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