Many in Ocean County may view any civil action taken in conjunction with criminal proceedings as a way for victims of an alleged crime to punish its accused perpetrator even further. This line of thinking may be particularly in wrongful death cases that accompany murder charges. Yet oftentimes, the targets of such actions are not those who committed the crimes themselves, but rather third parties whose actions (or inactions) may have permitted them to do so.
That was the claim made in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a college student in Ohio following her murder. The family alleged that the state department charged with monitoring the man who killed her was negligent in its duties. The young woman’s killer had been released from prison only three months before the crime, yet incidents of him failing to charge the GPS ankle monitor he was mandated to wear and leaving his residential housing center had already been documented. It was discovered later that the man had committed a string of robberies in the days leading up to him abducting and ultimately killing the young woman. He has since been sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
The family’s lawsuit claims that state officials did not monitor the man’s actions in real time as they should have, which enabled him to commit his crimes. Yet the state argued that it owed no special duty to protect the young woman specifically, a claim to which the judge hearing the case agreed. He ultimately dismissed the family’s lawsuit. This dismissal, however, should not deter those who truly believe their loved ones died due to the negligence from taking action (if they so choose). Such action may no doubt be bolstered by enlisting the assistance of an experienced attorney.