Nadia Malik was 22-years-old when she disappeared. Her body was later found in an abandoned vehicle owned by her boyfriend’s father that was buried in snow. Investigators have thus far been unable to determine the exact cause of death. Malik’s family filed a claim of wrongful death against Bhupinder Singh, her boyfriend and father of her children in a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Singh is believed to be the last person that saw her alive. The judge in the case recently issued a default judgment, after the defendants failed to appear for the court appearances. He awarded the family $10 million to account for the financial and psychological distress the family has faced.
Cause of Death Unknown
A local medical examiner in Philadelphia stated that there were no visible indications of impact or trauma on her body. During the period where Malik’s whereabouts were unknown, the family and Singh had exchanged odd and often contentious text messages. The 2007 Nissan Altima was found next to the 30th Street train depot and it contained several vials of prescription pills that all were prescribed to Singh. The claim alleges that Singh “intentionally harmed her and left her for dead or near-dead.” According to Malik’s family, the couple had some domestic problems in the past.
The suit listed Davinder Singh, Bhupinder father, also as a defendant in the claim. They alleged that his father was partially to blame for the actions that resulted in Malik’s death. Davinder had allowed his son to borrow a vehicle although he had a suspended driver’s license from a prior DUI incident. Malik’s family has been unable to obtain any details from either of the Singh’s. Neither of them responded to the court summons, hired an attorney, or issued any statement regarding the matter.
Collecting the Award
Judge Denis P. Cohen did not specifically address the merits of the family’s allegations that Singh was knowingly responsible for Malik’s death. He also did not elaborate regarding how he arrived at the $10 million award amount. The family says that they are now supporting her surviving two children and had paid for the funeral expenses. It is not clear was means of recourse the family has in attempts to collect this award and Singh’s location is unknown. He still had an active criminal warrant in Delaware County from 2016 at the time.
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act
Under common law claims of personal injury generally ceased when a party died. The Pennsylvania legislature in 1851 began implementing rights for survivors to pursue recovery for damages. All U.S. states now have some kind of civil provisions regarding claims of wrongful death. Some of the key provisions of the Pennsylvania Code include:
- A spouse, child, or parents of the deceased have a right to pursue a wrongful death action
- When no such immediate family member exists then the estate administrator or representative may bring the action after six months
- The state differentiates claims of wrongful death from survival actions:
- Claims of wrongful death are brought by an immediate family member
- A survival action is brought on behalf of the estate of the party who died
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