Massachusetts wrongful death settlement with 3 police agencies

A settlement of a lawsuit against Massachusetts law enforcement authorities that arose out of a fatal accident was announced recently. The wrongful death claim was based on an incident occurring at a police checkpoint in North Andover in late Nov. 2009. As a result of the claim, the deceased victim’s family will receive $1.6 million.

While details of the incident are sketchy, it is known that a 45-year-old man struck a Massachusetts State Trooper during a traffic stop. The surviving family alleged that the man was beaten by authorities. Further, it was claimed that police delayed more than three quarters of an hour to arrange for medical services for the man.

Police apparently attempted to restrain the man and placed him under arrest. During the booking process, the victim was said to be unresponsive. Later, he was declared dead at a hospital. No individual officer was disciplined or faced criminal charges relating to the incident. The Essex County sheriff, North Andover police and Massachusetts State Police were all included in the litigation, and it was reported that all shared some part of the settlement amount.

Though no criminal charges ever arose from the incident, the family was still able to achieve a substantial settlement based upon its claims of negligence. There was no indication that any law enforcement agency conceded liability for the wrongful death claim, but the evidence advanced by the family likely convinced the law enforcement entities involved that an agreement to a specific amount was preferable to the potential exposure that could come if the family won a verdict at trial. While each fatal accident claim depends on the particular facts and circumstances of a case, a surviving family of a deceased accident victim may gain by assessing all of its rights under Massachusetts law.

Source: Claims Journal, “Massachusetts Traffic Stop Death Lawsuit Settled for $1.6M,” Nov. 21, 2012

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