A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles this month against comedian Jim Carrey, for what the plaintiff says was the actor's role in the apparent suicide death last year of his former girlfriend.
The suit was brought by the husband of Cathriona White who killed herself with prescription drugs purportedly supplied by Carrey.
Mark Burton, an Oregon man who was married to White at the time of her death, alleged that Carrey obtained the prescription drugs Percocet, Ambien and Propranolol under a false name and gave them to White even though he knew she had been depressed and suicidal in the past.
"The result that followed was predictable and foreseeable," according to the lawsuit.
In addition, according to the lawsuit, after White's suicide, Carrey allegedly tried to conceal his culpability in her death by sending a bogus text message to White after she died asking if she had taken the prescription medications from his home.
A wrongful death action is a civil action taken against someone who can be held liable for a death caused by recklessness or negligence. It is generally brought by close family members. Any tortious (derived from tort) injury that caused someone's death may be grounds for a wrongful death action. A tort is an act or omission that leads to injury or harm to another person and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.
Because a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, the burden of proof is lower than that of a criminal case. Instead of finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as is required in criminal cases, a defendant in a civil case can be found responsible based on a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means that more than 50 percent of the evidence points to something that proves the plaintiff's case.
To meet that burden of proof, the family who lost a loved one has to show: negligence on the part of the defendant; breach of duty the defendant owed to the deceased; how the defendant caused the death; and the damages related to the death of the person.
In a civil suit, there are two types of damages: compensatory (or actual damages) and punitive damages. Compensatory damages refers to money awarded to compensate for actual losses such as future earnings, medical bills, and funeral expenses. Punitive damages are considered punishment and awarded when the defendant's behavior is found to be especially harmful.
The compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is intended to cover the earnings of the deceased, as well as attempt to provide emotional comfort for loved ones and support the person for whom the earnings would have provided.
If you believe your loved one died as a result of someone else's recklessness or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.