Well-Known Wrongful Death Settlements

Through the years, a handful of wrongful death cases have captured the public’s interest and garnered front-page newspaper coverage while sparking endless debate about the details and merits of each case. Some involved celebrities, some involved defective products that affected many Americans. Below are some of the most famous, or infamous, wrongful death cases ever heard in the United States courts.

Wrongful death settlements infographic

OJ Simpson Civil Trial

Without a doubt, the most notorious figure to ever be held financially liable for the deaths of other people is O.J. Simpson, the former football great, actor and sports broadcaster who in 1995 was acquitted on criminal charges stemming from the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and an acquaintance, Ronald Goldman, in a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles.

After he was found not guilty by jurors in his closely watched and televised criminal trial, which ranks as the longest criminal case in United States history, Simpson was sued in civil court by the Brown and Goldman families for the wrongful death of their loved ones. In 1997, the families were awarded $33.5 million in compensatory damages, an award that Simpson successfully challenged in court. To date, the families report they have received little or no funds from Simpson in payment of the wrongful death judgment.

Guest of CNN Talk Show Host Nancy Grace Kills Self

In September 2006, CNN talk show host Nancy Grace was sued for wrongful death by relatives of a 21-year-old Florida mother who committed suicide days after being confronted on-air by Grace about the whereabouts of the woman’s missing two-year-old son. The mother, Melinda Ducket, was not formally named a suspect in her son’s disappearance, but Grace, a former prosecutor, angrily grilled the mother about what Ducket knew about the boy’s whereabouts. Ducket’s family alleged that Grace intentionally inflicted emotional distress on their loved one by angrily insinuating that she had killed her son, driving the mother to take her own life just hours before her pre-taped appearance on Grace’s talk show was to be aired. In 2010, the case was settled for $200,000.

Killer of Comedian-Actor Sues Anti-Depressant Maker

In 1998, “Saturday Night Live” actor and comedian Phil Hartman was shot to death by his wife, Brynn, who then turned the gun on herself, taking her own life. While the killing shocked television and movie audiences who loved the comedic actor’s impersonations and quirky roles, the crime also surprised members of Brynn Hartman’s family. Her brother sued Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the anti-depressant Zoloft, which Brynn was taking for panic attacks, alleging the popular drug drove her to insanity that caused her to shoot her husband and herself. Pfizer agreed to settle the family’s suit for an undisclosed amount.

Ford Motors Sued Over 1970s Pinto Explosions

Ford Motor Company faced wrongful death lawsuits stemming from a series of vehicle explosions that affected its popular Pinto sedans in the 1970s. The Pinto was designed with a rear-facing gasoline tank that could be ruptured in even minor rear-end collisions. Ford’s unsafe design was held liable for the wrongful deaths of motorists and the car-maker eventually recalled the Pinto. In one lawsuit in which a woman was killed and a 13-year-old boy was severely burned, Ford was liable for $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have suffered the death of a loved one as the result of the negligent or unlawful actions of another party, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of companionship and other damages. Contact an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive wrongful death attorney today.

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