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Louisiana Supreme Court sides with father in wrongful death case

A Louisiana wrongful death case has made it to the state's highest court. The father had filed the case against the child's mother. In 2009, the woman had her son inside the vehicle when she told him to get out. She then ran over her child 'intentionally and repeatedly,' and he died as a result of his injuries. Upon the child's death, the alleged father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the woman and the state of Louisiana.

There were several disturbing incidents that ultimately coalesced in the death of the child. Prior to the last incident, the woman took the child to a tall building intending to commit suicide and take her son with her. The child convinced his mother not to do it, and she later checked herself in to receive psychiatric care. The father then formally complained and asked for his son to be protected. The state's Department of Social Services declined to investigate because they stated the situation did not 'meet the legal and policy definition of child abuse or neglect.'

The woman was actually an employee of the Department of Social Services when these episodes occurred, and one of her coworkers stated that the woman's behavior should be immediately addressed because she was the mother of a minor child and his only caregiver. In order to file a wrongful death suit in the state, paternity has to be established because the only people authorized to file such a suit are the father and mother, if the decedent doesn't leave a spouse or any other children. The man had submitted documents proving he was the father, but an appellate court rejected the documents at the state's motion.

The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the lower court and remanded the case back to a trial court. They ruled the man had every right to file the wrongful death lawsuit because he sufficiently proved he was the father of the child. The case isn't over, but the Supreme Court's ruling should allow the case to go forward and for the man to pursue his pursuit of justice for the tragic death of his son.

Source: Legal Newsline, "La. SC makes ruling in case brought by alleged father over child's death," Nathan Bass, Nov. 2, 2012

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