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2 cases reflect extraordinary scope of wrongful death scenarios

There is no such thing as an ordinary case of wrongful death. Anytime someone is killed due to someone else's negligence, it causes unique pain and suffering for surviving loved ones.

In each case, the right to recovery for losses suffered is available. No one would argue that money serves to adequately compensate those who experience such a tragedy. It may help sustain the surviving loved ones somewhat from a financial perspective. But perhaps more significantly, where wrongful death claims can be proven, those responsible are held more fully accountable. And a successful suit could also lead to positive change.

Two Connecticut cases that have made news recently reflect the broad range of circumstances that can lead to wrongful death action. We think they also serve to emphasize the premise of this post -- that each wrongful death is extraordinary.

The first, reported this week by The Connecticut Law Tribune, notes the settlement of a suit over the 2012 death of an Enfield man. According the item, the 61-year-old man was riding his motorcycle when a 17-year-old driver in a pickup truck owned by his family's business pulled into the biker's path. The man was thrown from the motorcycle and died about four hours later. The Tribune story announced that the two sides had settled the case for $2.25 million, avoiding a trial.

At what some might put at the other end of the spectrum is the lawsuit filed in connection with the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown. Gunman Adam Lanza killed 26 people, most of them children. He then killed himself.

The families of nine of the victims and one of the survivors filed suit last month seeking unspecified damages. The suit names the manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle that was used, a gun distributor, the gun shop where Lanza's mother bought the weapon and the gun shop's owner. The plaintiffs claim the defendants ignored the risks of selling a military-grade weapon to untrained civilians for the sake of profit.

In 2004, the gunmaker settled a similar lawsuit after mass shootings by a sniper in Washington, D.C. The case was settled for $2.5 million, so the Newtown case bears careful watching.

Source: The Washington Post, "Newtown families sue rifle manufacturer, distributor and seller for wrongful death," Elahe Izadi, Dec. 15, 2014

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