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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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  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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