Andrea Irwin, the mother of recently unarmed slain teenager Tony Robinson, announced on CNN that she plans to sue the Madison, Wisconsin police department. Tony Robinson, who is bi-racial, was shot and killed by Officer Matt Kenny inside an apartment on March 6, 2015. According to the police, Kenny was allegedly responding to calls that Robinson was running through traffic, and while on the scene to investigate, was subsequently struck in the head by Robinson. Further reports, specifically from the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, allege that traces of marijuana, Xanax and mushrooms were found in Robinson’s blood.
In her statement to Anderson Cooper, right after it was announced that no criminal charges were to be filed against Officer Kenny, Andrea Irwin vowed that she will file a lawsuit against the police department for killing her son, and also for engaging in a smear campaign against her deceased son and her family.
What Does This Mean ?
When someone is killed or dies, based upon and due to the fault of another person or entity, the surviving next of kin has standing to bring a wrongful death claim against those deemed to be responsible for the death. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks, through civil litigation, compensation for the surviving party’s loss. This loss includes, loss of wages from the deceased, loss of companionship, and expenses incurred due to the death (i.e. – funeral costs).
Though the actual lawsuit has not been filed as of yet, and no criminal charges will be brought against Officer Kenny, there are several civil claims that may be alleged and brought against Kenny, the Madison, Wisconsin police department, as well as others. As the next of kin to Tony Robinson, Irwin may make a claim for:
1) Wrongful Death
2) Defamation of Character
3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
4) Violations of Civil Rights pursuant to the U.S. Constitution
5) Negligence (via the breached duty of care in hiring and training Officer Kenny).
How Does This Affect You ?
Survivors of a deceased family member may bring a lawsuit against the party they deem responsible for their loved one’s death. A representative of the surviving family members, most times the executor of the deceased’s estate or next of kin, will file the claim on behalf of all of the survivors. In order to have standing to bring a claim, the survivors must be “real parties of interest,” which include, but are not limited to:
1) Immediate family member such as a spouse, children and parents.
2) Life partners, financial dependents, and “putative” spouses (i.e – someone who had “good faith” belief they were married to the deceased)
3) Distant family member such as brothers, sisters and grandparents
4) Those who suffer financially
Each state is different regarding the requirements for bringing a wrongful death claim and how long after the death you have to file it (“statute of limitations”). If you believe that a loved one’s wrongful death was caused by another party, and you wish to bring a claim against them due to the loss you incurred, speak with attorney in your area as soon as possible.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com . She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 10 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.