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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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