Sometimes the law never ceases to amaze me – especially the things that the law deems individuals and companies are potentially responsible for. Take, for example, the following details in a wrongful death claim made in San Diego county:
A young woman, who was 22 at the time of her murder in 2000, was stabbed 20 times by a jealous boyfriend. The murder gained access after breaking through the door of the apartment where the young woman and her family resided. The door had already suffered some damage to a glass pane that was on the upper half of the door. The damage had been “repaired” by the residents with a some cardboard and duct tape. The murder, when breaking into the house to kill the young woman, simply punched through the cardboard area of the door and let himself in.
The residents of the apartment had let the landlord of their apartment know that the door was broken and that it represented a security risk. Who do you think the defendant in the wrongful death suit is? The murder? Nope, its the landlord.
This civil case is being brought on the behalf of the young woman’s infant child, who is eligible to hire a San Diego wrongful death lawyer under California law. If the young woman had not had had a child, then it is my understanding from reading Code Civ. Proc., § 377.60 that there would have been no one to make such a claim before a civil court unless there was someone who would have benefited from intestate succession.
This case is real, and the San Diego 4th District Court of Appeals made a ruling that was deemed worthy of publication (meaning that it can be sited for precedent in other cases). This overruled a decision made by another judge that threw out the case made against the landlord by the decedents child.
The San Diego 4th District Court of Appeals did not make any judgment on the validity of the plaintiff’s case, but simply said that the case has enough merit to go before a jury. This is obviously great news to the plaintiff who is trying to recovery monetary damages from the death of his mother. Can you imagine how much a child suffers without the care and comfort of a mother?
However, I personally don’t think that this case will make much headway with a jury. The plaintiff’s wrongful death lawyer is going to have a tough time demonstrating to a jury that the landlord of the apartment in question was at least 50% responsible for the death of this young woman. I mean, how could a jury decide that the actual knife wielding murder was equally responsible for this young w0man’s death as the lazy landlord?
Did the landlord stab the woman 10 of the 20 times? Did he cause the murder to punch through the cardboard covering and gain unlawful access to the decedent’s apartment? Did the landlord driver the murder to the decedent’s apartment and did he give the murder the knife and did he show the murder how to kill the woman and did he incite the murder to do so?
No. So I simply cannot see how any San Diego wrongful death lawyer is going to be able to win a wrongful death case for the child of the young woman.