City of New York Faces $10M Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A family in New York City is filing a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city for the death of a father of eight. Their lawsuit alleges that the man fatally collapsed after police forced entry into his Brooklyn apartment.

The police allegedly barged into his apartment while they were chasing down a robbery suspect. According to the complaint, they got the wrong apartment and barged in on this man instead, which startled him so much that he suffered a heart attack. The family is also claiming that he may not have died if the ambulance didn’t take 30 minutes to get to the apartment. The apartment was just three blocks from the Brooklyn University Hospital. According to the city coroner, the man died of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

This case will be defended by the City of New York primarily on a legal issue known as, “proximate cause”. In order to win a personal injury case, the injured person (or in this case the estate of the decedent) must show that the death was caused by the defendant’s negligence. When deciding whether the defendant’s acts caused the plaintiff’s death, the court will eventually ask two questions:

  1. Whether the defendant’s act was the cause in fact of the injury, and;
  2. Whether the defendant’s act was the proximate cause or legal cause of the injury.

As the coroner ruled both coronary disease and a heart attack as the causes of death, a jury will clearly be asked to decide this issue. Most certainly, the decedent’s attorneys will need to retain a medical expert to prove that the heart attack was the “proximate cause of the injury”, caused by the police raiding the wrong apartment.