Recently in Wrongful Death Category

March 8, 2013

Intern Killed by Lion in Cat Sanctuary near Fresno

Diana Hanson, 24, an intern at a big cat sanctuary in Dunlap, Calif., was mauled to death by a lion on March 6, 2013. According to an ABC News report, the fatal incident occurred at the Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near Kings Canyon National Park. Officials say Hanson was inside the cat enclosure when a 4-year-old African lion names Cous Cous attacked her. It was not immediately clear what Hanson was doing inside the enclosure or what caused the attack.

'Her True Passion in Life'

Another employer unsuccessfully tried to lure the lion away from Hanson. The lion was eventually shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to the call. The park was closed at the time of the attack and there were no visitors inside. Hanson's father tells ABC News that his daughter loved being around large cats and that working with them was her true passion in life. Hanson trained with three tigers and a lion while in college at Western Washington State University, her father said.

Ongoing Investigation

Based on this news report, officials are still trying to determine what caused this attack. The lion had apparently been raised at the preserve by the owner since he was an 8-week-old cub. Employees at the reserve were also puzzled about how and why Hanson got into the lion's space.

There are several unanswered questions here. What type of security did the lion's cage have? What were policies and procedures at the sanctuary when it comes to handling the cats and stepping into the cages? Did Cat Haven have a written policy in place? Were all employees, volunteers and interns trained with regard to those safety procedures? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why. A wrongful death lawsuit is a possibility.

It is not clear if anyone's negligence played a part in Hanson's tragic death. I hope that her grieving family members and friends get answers to their questions. In such cases, it would also be in the best interests of victims' families to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that the victims' and their families' rights are protected.

November 30, 2012

Teen Who Drowned in Swim Class Spent 17 Minutes Underwater, Report Says

Malvrick Donkor, 14, a high school student, was fatally injured in a swimming pool accident during a lesson. According to a news report in The Gothamist, the teenager was allegedly underwater and unnoticed by instructors for 17 minutes while other students swam around him. Surveillance tapes showed Donkor climbing down a ladder into the deep end and then sinking. He was not noticed until another student spotted his body underwater and told the teacher, who pulled him out. The male swim teacher has since been placed on administrative leave and the pool has been closed. The incident is under investigation.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Malvrick Donkor for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Donkor was reportedly an immigrant from Ghana. His loved ones will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

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November 15, 2012

Five-Hour Energy Drinks Linked to 13 Deaths

Federal government officials and the New York Attorney General's office are investigating claims that the drink 5-Hour Energy led to 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations over the last four years. According to an ABC news report, the popular energy shot, which comes in two-ounce packages and packs a powerful caffeine punch, is being linked to serious side effects and death. Researchers are particularly looking into the effects of using multiple cans of the drink at once. Each can is said to have the caffeine content of two cups of coffee.

This is the second time in one month that the Food and Drug Administration has singled out energy drinks. In October, Monster Energy was linked to five deaths. The manufacturers point out that these are just claims and allegations and that there are no proven links. Company officials maintain that their products are harmless and that there is no evidence to show that the drinks directly caused the deaths.

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November 7, 2012

Bicyclist Killed in Buena Park Car Accident

A 20-year-old man was fatally injured in a bicycle accident after he was struck by a vehicle at a street intersection. According to a news article in The Orange County Register, the incident occurred at the intersection of Knott and La Palma avenues, the evening of November 5, 2012. Police say the man died from his injuries at a local hospital. The male driver of the vehicle that hit the bicyclist was also transported to a hospital with minor injuries. Investigators are looking into whether the driver or the bicyclist had the right-of-way. Anyone who saw this accident is asked to contact Buena Park police at 714-562-3940.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of this deceased victim. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved this man.

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October 19, 2012

Wheelchair Bound Woman Suffers Fatal Fall from Los Angeles Metro Escalator

A 64-year-old woman in a wheelchair died a day after she fell down an escalator at a Metro station. According to a KTLA news report, the incident occurred at the Hollywood/Highland Metro Red Line station on October 16, 2012. Officials say the elevator from the mezzanine area to the street level was not functioning, prompting the woman and her caregiver to take the escalator. Shortly afterward, the escalator malfunctioned sending both women tumbling backwards. The woman in the wheelchair suffered severe head trauma and died a day later. The 48-year-old caregiver suffered cuts and bruises, but is expected to recover. It is not clear if she will face charges in connection with the incident.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of this woman who has been tragically killed here. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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September 27, 2012

Elderly Woman Killed in Ventura DUI Collision

Margarita McIntosh, 75, was killed in a Ventura pedestrian accident, which officials say involved a school bus driver who was under the influence of drugs. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the fatal collision occurred at the intersection of Woodland Street and Brookshire Avenue, the afternoon of September 26, 2012. Officials say the school bus carrying 11 children was heading north on Brookshire when it made a left turn on Woodland striking the elderly pedestrian who was walking in a crosswalk.

McIntosh was transported in critical condition to an area hospital where she died. The school bus driver, 54-year-old Joanne Madaule, was under the influence of unspecified drugs at the time, California Highway Patrol officials said. She was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The investigation is ongoing.

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September 26, 2012

Tree Trimmer Fatally Injured on the Job

Gerson Hernandez, 27, suffered fatal injuries on the job after he was pinned under collapsing palm fronds on September 22, 2012. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, Hernandez was trimming a palm tree in the 1400 block of North Martel Avenue in Hollywood when he was trapped under the fronds. Hernandez was about 30 feet above the ground at the time of the accident. Officials stated the victim could have been crushed or asphyxiated by the fronds, which can weigh up to half a ton. The cause of death has not yet been determined. The investigation is ongoing.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Gerson Hernandez for their tragic loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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September 20, 2012

California State Liable for Rehab Deaths

September 10, 2012—Orange County, California—Regulations that make no sense, lack of uniform enforcement, and inadequate supervision were all reasons the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes gave for blaming the State of California for ten deaths at rehabilitation facilities across the state, according to the Orange County Register. The decision means that families of these victims may be able to recover damages from the state for these wrongful death claims.

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September 19, 2012

Doctor Not Liable for Dementia Patient's Collision

September 7, 2012--Santa Ana, CA--According to the Los Angeles Times, an Orange County doctor was determined to have no responsibility for a car crash caused by an 85-year-old patient he had been treating for dementia.

Dr. Arthur Daigneault certified that his patient, Lorraine Sullivan, was medically fit to drive. Sullivan later turned into oncoming traffic and killed a passenger in her car, William Powers. Powers's family filed a lawsuit claiming that the doctor was liable for wrongful death due to the fact that he had been treating her for dementia. However, a judge ruled that Daigneault was not liable and had followed the proper procedures for certifying Sullivan's driving abilities.
My sincere condolences go out to the family of the victim lost in this tragic accident.
California Law Regarding Dementia and Drivers

According to Section 103900 of the California Health & Safety Code, physicians are required to submit a report to the health department of a patient's county of residence if the individual has a disease featuring dementia severe enough to impair driving ability. The test for physicians is general whether dementia can be judged moderate to severe. If so, the doctor is required to report and the individual's license will be suspended by the DMV. If the physician feels the dementia is only mild, however, the doctor is not required to report to the county and the patient may continue to drive.

How Could The Doctor Have Been Held Liable In This Case?

Because doctors are required to report moderate to severe dementia to the proper licensing authorities, it is reasonable to think that there may have been grounds for a liability case against the physician. If it had indeed been shown that the doctor should have notified authorities that the patient was unfit to drive, this physician could have faced serious liability problems in the accident. However, the case was decided in favor of the doctor, meaning that the judge found no evidence the patient had anything more than mild dementia.

What Should I Do If I Feel A Loved One Should Not Drive?

The lesson to be taken from this terrible car accident is that we should all speak out if we feel that loved ones cannot drive safely. A talk with the loved one first is in order; however, if you feel you are not being heard, there are steps you can take to help your loved one stay safe.

September 18, 2012

Police Arrest Man in Connection with Fatal Newport Beach Hit-and-Run

Newport Beach police have arrested a 39-year-old man in connection with a hit-and-run collision that occurred on September 14, 2012. The crash fatally injured reputed Orange County doctor and avid bicyclist, Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz, 57. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, police arrested Michael Jason Lopez was arrested on September 18, 2012 and has been charged with hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Ritz was killed when she was struck from behind by a pickup truck while riding her bicycle north on Pacific Coast Highway, between Ocean Vista and Vista Ridge.

My heartfelt condolences go out to everybody who knew and loved Ritz, who was apparently a respected professional and a beloved member of the community. The Daily Pilot states that Ritz was a member of the U.S. National Disaster Medical Team and had served for the last 18 years as the president of Greater Newport Physicians. Ritz was also an avid bicyclist, hiker and kayaker. This is indeed a tragic loss for her family and the community.

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September 17, 2012

Newport Beach Hit-and-Run Collision Proves Fatal for Bicyclist

Catherine Ritz, 57, of Irvine, was killed in a Newport Beach car accident after she was struck by a pickup truck whose driver fled the scene. According to a news account in The Newport Beach Patch, the fatal bicycle accident occurred the morning of September 15, 2012 on Newport Coast Drive, between Ocean Vista Drive and Vista Ridge Drive. Police say Ritz was riding her bike north on Newport Coast Drive when a black pickup truck hit her from behind. The driver of the truck did not stop and was last seen going northbound on Newport Coast Drive. Ritz was taken to an area hospital in critical condition and succumbed to her injuries.

Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver. The suspect vehicle has been described as a black, full-sized pickup truck, possibly a 2001 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma with significant damage to the right front area of the vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to contact Newport Beach Traffic Investigator Eric Little at 949-644-3746 or email him at

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September 14, 2012

Skateboarder Killed in San Bernardino County Car Accident

Jarod Maxwell, 14, was fatally injured in a San Bernardino County car accident after a car struck him as he was on his way to school. According to a news report in The Victorville Daily Press, the pedestrian accident occurred the morning of September 13, 2012 along Baldy Mesa Road in Baldy Mesa. Maxwell was riding his skateboard in the northbound lane when a 2010 Chevrolet Traverse driven by a woman in the same direction hit him. Maxwell was not wearing a helmet and sustained major injuries. He died shortly after the crash at a local hospital. The investigation is ongoing.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members and friends of Jarod Maxwell who are mourning the loss of their loved one. I offer my deepest condolences to this grieving family.

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September 13, 2012

Santa Ana Hit-and-Run Collision Proves Fatal

A woman in her 40s was killed in a Santa Ana car accident after a vehicle struck her and left the scene. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal hit-and-run crash occurred in the 1500 block of West First Street, early morning on September 13, 2012. Police say the homeless woman was pushing a shopping cart when a vehicle hit her and the cart in which she carried her personal belongings. The driver fled without stopping to help the victim. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials have not yet released a vehicle description, but witnesses said it may have been a white colored pickup truck and that it possibly sustained significant front-end damage. Anyone with information about this fatal crash is asked to contact traffic investigators at 714-245-8216.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of this deceased hit-and-run car accident victim. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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September 12, 2012

Fatal Victorville Car Accident Involves Sheriff's Deputy

Vanessa Rosales, 38, of Adelanto, was killed in a Victorville car accident, which officials say involved a San Bernardino County Sheriff's patrol vehicle, the night of September 9, 2012. According to a news report in The Press Enterprise, the fatal crash occurred on Air Expressway west of Village Drive. A deputy was driving a prisoner to the Apple Valley Juvenile Detention Center when the patrol car rear-ended a Honda Accord in the eastbound lanes. The Honda then swerved and struck a Mercedes.

Rosales, who was a passenger in the Honda, sustained fatal injuries. The Honda's driver, Immysha Smith and another juvenile passenger in the Honda, were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Jennifer Tompkins, the driver of the Mercedes, the deputy and the juvenile prisoner, suffered injuries that were described as "minor." The sheriff's Major Accident Investigation Team is looking into the cause of this crash.

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September 11, 2012

Costa Mesa Motorcycle Accident Proves Fatal

Aaron Dobine, 27, of Laguna Niguel, was killed in a motorcycle crash in Costa Mesa after losing control of his motorcycle. According to a news article in The Orange County Register, the fatal accident occurred the evening of September 10, 2012. California Highway Patrol officials say Dobine was riding a 2010 Harley-Davidson and was making his way from the southbound 405 Freeway to the 73 toll road when he lost control and hit the center median. Dobine was thrown from his motorcycle and sustained fatal injuries. Investigators suspect that Dobine may have been traveling at a high rate of speed. At this time, they do not believe other vehicles were involved. The investigation is ongoing.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Aaron Dobine who are mourning this terrible loss. I offer my heartfelt condolences to them.

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