Manual In Case of Death: Straight Talk on Washington Wrongful Death

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would open the door for parents or siblings who wish to pursue a wrongful death suit for an unmarried, childless adult. Under current law, parents and siblings can recover damages if their loved one had no spouse or children; they were financially dependent on their loved one; and they lived in the U. Damages can include monetary losses as well as the loss of intangible things such love, affection, companionship and services. House Bill would remove the requirements for financial dependence and U. If there is no spouse or child to pursue legal action, a parent or sibling could do so.

The bill was inspired by the fatal Ride the Ducks crash in Seattle, where foreign students died, said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, sponsor of the bill. Deanna Hogue cried as she testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week. She described her hard-working, happy son, who planned to study at the University of Washington and had taken a summer landscaping job to save up money. The law discriminates against families where there is no spouse or child to take a respondent to court, Hogue said.

Representatives of law firms and organizations that oppose the bill told lawmakers they worry about the effect it could have on the number and amount of lawsuits, particularly against government agencies and medical providers. Bob Christie with Christie Law Group of Seattle specializes in representing government agencies in wrongful death cases.

Wrongful Death

He spoke on behalf of Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. It would magnify the amount that could be awarded and would require juries to put a value on human life and enjoyment of life for someone who has died, he said. It could have unintended consequences for medical providers and would result in more lawsuits and greater liability, they said. Bonnie Gibson was shocked and saddened to hear from other families in similar situations, including the Hogues. The Hogues and Gibsons planned to be in Olympia again Thursday to speak with lawmakers.

Testimonials

Kari Bray: ; kbray heraldnet. Gallery Zachary, Bradley and Nathaniel Hogue. This is the last photo Deanna Hogue has of her boys together. The Hogues are asking lawmakers to change state law on wrongful death suits. Hogue family. Gerry and Bonnie Gibson enjoy the morning sun from their back yard on the Skykomish River in Sultan in Instead of walking up to the intersection, which has no crosswalks or pedestrian signal, she threaded her way through stopped traffic and had made it across six of the highway's seven lanes when the light changed.

Witnesses say a dump truck knocked the teenager to the pavement.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

The rear wheels rolled over her. The driver, John P. Bunch, said he never saw Ms. She died two weeks later, never regaining consciousness. Mall officials have acknowledged they turned down the transit authority's repeated requests to allow the Route 6 bus onto their property, but say they did so to keep out rowdy juveniles, who had been causing problems at a nearby mall and a skating rink.


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After Ms. Wiggins's death, the mall opened up its property to public buses, under the threat of a boycott by the Buffalo teachers union and local civil rights groups. In testimony, bus officials have described a mall more interested in discouraging the poor from visiting than in deterring crime. Gordon Foster, a retired transportation authority official who before the mall opened in had been involved in trying to bring the Route 6 bus onto mall property, said a Pyramid executive, Kenneth D.

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Cannon, made it clear that would not happen. Foster said, ''and that was quite a revelation.

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The first allegation of racism arose when a white businessman whose family owned a local music store chain said he was shocked when Mr. Cannon told him that public buses would not be allowed. Ritchie II, testified. He said he also knew most of the people riding the Walden Avenue bus were black. Lawyers for the Galleria have emphasized that bus riders have always had the choice of transferring to a shuttle that stopped feet from a mall entrance and did not require crossing a highway. The mall's lawyers have also said the Galleria, which did allow charter buses, was not legally obligated to allow access by public transportation.

They said other Buffalo area malls were excluding Metro buses at the time of the accident.


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And, they note, Ms. Wiggins was jaywalking. Although top officials from Pyramid, including Mr. Cannon, have not yet taken the witness stand, the shopping center's general manager, James Soos, testified he was surprised to learn that his superiors had denied bus access to the mall.