Saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed away is never easy. Grief is always a painful process, but it's even more difficult to grieve when you unexpectedly lose someone due to preventable circumstances - either negligence or malice.
While the criminal justice system can provide some sense of closure by punishing those who intentionally harm others, sometimes this system fails the families of victims. When these families are let down by the judicial system, civil courts provide an alternate route for justice.
An Innocent Child's Preventable Death
Death is always tragic, but it's especially devastating when an innocent child dies from preventable circumstances. In September of 2013, 12-year-old sixth-grader Laporshia Massey began to experience trouble breathing while in class at Bryant Elementary School. Massey suffered from asthma, and school officials were allegedly aware of this.
The school had no nurse on-duty that day, as budget restrictions only allowed a nurse to work for two days each week. This meant that there was no health official on campus who could identify the gravity of Massey's symptoms or to recognize the need for immediate medical attention.
With no trained medical professional available, the family's lawyer argued, school authorities should have considered a 911 call. Instead, when Laporshia notified her teacher of the symptoms of an asthma attack, she was simply told to "be calm."
The school did call the family twice to tell them that their daughter felt ill. But according to Daniel Burch, Laporshia's father, neither call sounded especially urgent. Burch ended up driving his daughter to the hospital after she returned home, and she passed away later that evening.
Laporshia's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia, seeking $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.