Two Florida families have filed a wrongful death suit in Pinellas County Circuit Court against Goodwill Industries-Suncoast. The lawsuit stems from an October 2012 shooting that occurred in Largo when a work-release inmate escaped from the defendant’s work-release center and shot two men. The families of the victims now seek compensation for their deaths.
The wrongful death suit alleges that the defendant is liable for the shooting deaths of the victims because of its agreement with the Florida Department of Corrections, which in part requires that certain safeguards be put into place to protect against these violent occurrences. The suit alleged that the defendant was negligent in not protecting the public from the actions of its work-release inmates. Goodwill notes, however, that it followed the regulations that were in place at the time and that stricter rules were later implemented at its urging.
In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, a plaintiff must stand in the place of the deceased as though it were a typical negligence claim. What this means, specifically, is that the estate of the decedent must show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care, that it breached that duty and that the deceased’s injuries were a result of this breach.
In the Goodwill case, the result will likely depend on whether that duty was breached. While the plaintiff’s attorneys may argue that Goodwill owes the public a duty of care to protect against the actions of employees who it knows to have a criminal record, this does not necessarily mean it was negligent in failing to prevent the deaths that occurred in October 2012. What will be pertinent is whether Goodwill took reasonable safety measures in line with current regulations and guidelines.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, contact the Bradenton wrongful death attorneys at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh to discuss your legal options.