Sample Wrongful Death Lawsuit

CYNTHIA HASSLER
- Plaintiff

v.

BOWER TRANSFER COMPANY
- Defendant

COMPLAINT AND PRAYER FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiffs, Cynthia Hassler, and Amanda Hassler, by and through their attorneys Ronald V. Miller, Jr., Rodney M. Gaston and Miller & Zois, LLC now files suit against Bower Transfer Company Inc, and George Edwin Johnson, Jr. and in support thereof states as follows:

  1. On or about February 4, 2012, the late Stephen Daniel Hassler was employed by the American Sugar Refining Inc. d/b/a Domino Sugar, and was working at Domino’s plant located at 1100 Key Highway, in Baltimore City, Maryland.
  2. On or about February 4, 2012, at approximately 2:42 a.m. the late Stephen Hassler was operating a fork lift truck and was loading box trailers parked at the Domino’s loading dock at 1100 Key Highway, in Baltimore City, Maryland.
  3. At the same date and time, Defendant George Edwin Johnson, Jr. was employed by Defendant Bower Transfer Company Inc. as a truck driver for Bower and was responsible for driving/moving box trailers to and from the loading dock at the Domino plant to various locations.
  4. At approximately 2:42 a.m. Defendant George Johnson moved/drove a box trailer that was parked at the loading dock away from the loading dock at the same time that the late Stephen Hassler was loading the box trailer with pallets.
  5. When Defendant George Johnson drove/moved the box trailer away from the loading dock, this negligent action caused the forklift truck that Stephen Hassler was operating to fall off the back of the box trailer and in the process, Stephen Hassler ended up underneath of the forklift as it fell to the ground, which crushed Stephen Hassler to death.
  6. That at the time that George Johnson drove/moved the box trailer away from the loading dock we was acting within the scope of his employment with Bower Transfer Company and performing work at the direction of Bower Transfer Company Inc.
  7. That as a result of the negligent actions of Defendant George Johnson, the late Stephen Hassler suffered conscious pain and suffering, physical injuries, other damages, and death.
  8. That the conscious pain and suffering, physical injuries, other damages, and death suffered by the late Stephen Hassler was proximately and directly caused by the negligent acts of George Johnson by driving/moving the box trailer from the loading dock.
  9. That the negligence of Defendant George Johnson consisted of negligent driving, failing to use due care and caution before moving a vehicle (tractor-trailer combination) from a parked position, failing to check the inside of the box trailer before moving the box trailer from a parked position, failing to confirm in advance that the trailer that was moved was the actual trailer to be moved, and failing to warn any person, to include the late Stephen Hassler, who was loading the box trailer that the trailer was being removed from the loading dock.
  10. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant George Johnson’s negligence in causing the death of Stephen Hassler, the Plaintiffs, as the survivors of the late Stephen Hassler, sustained pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and other damages.
  11. That at the time of his death Stephen Hassler was married to Cynthia Hassler, and was also survived by his adult child Amanda Hassler.
  12. That at the time of his death Stephen Hassler was earning approximately $85,000.00 per year as a forklift operator for Domino Sugar.
  13. At all times herein mentioned, the Decedent Stephen Hassler was acting in a careful and prudent manner and did not assume the risks of his injuries and death and was not contributorily negligent.
  14. This Complaint is timely filed within three years after the death of Stephen Hassler, pursuant to §3-904 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
  15. That pursuant to Maryland Rule of Civil Procedure, 15-1001, all of the persons who could pursue a claim for the wrongful death of the late Stephen Hassler are named as Plaintiffs in the case at bar and are represented by counsel.
  16. That the Circuit Court for Baltimore City is the proper venue for this action as the negligent act that resulted in the death of the late Stephen Hassler occurred in Baltimore City, Maryland.
  17. That on or about April 10, 2013, Defendant Bower Transfer Company Inc. filed for protection under the United States Federal Bankruptcy laws by filing a Petition for Bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore, Maryland under case number 09-16282.
  18. That on or about September 1, 2013, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert A. Gordon executed an Order granting Plaintiff Cynthia Hassler’s Motion to Lift the Automatic Stay occasioned by the bankruptcy filing by Bower Transfer Company Inc. This Order authorized all of the Plaintiffs listed in this complaint to proceed with the claims asserted in this complaint against Bower Transfer Company Inc. and to collect any judgment entered or settlement reached up to the maximum amount of liability insurance available to cover the Plaintiffs’ losses herein. (See Court Order, Exhibit 1, attached hereto and incorporated by reference herein).
COUNT I - WRONGFUL DEATH / VICARIOUS LIABILITY
(Cynthia Hassler as surviving spouse of the late Stephen Hassler vs. Bower)

The Plaintiffs incorporate herein all preceding paragraphs.

More on Wrongful Death
  1. The death of the late Stephen Hassler was directly and proximate caused by the negligent actions of George Johnson, who was acting within the scope of his employment with Bower Transfer Company Inc. on February 4, 2012, when he caused the physical injuries, conscious pain and suffering, and the death of the late Stephen Hassler.
  2. That under Maryland Law Bower Transfer Company Inc. is vicariously liable for all of the negligent acts committed by its employee George Johnson on February 4, 2012.
  3. That Cynthia Hassler, the surviving spouse of the late Stephen Hassler, sustained pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering and other damages arising out of the death of Stephen Hassler.
COUNT II - WRONGFUL DEATH
(Cynthia Hassler as surviving spouse of the late Stephen Hassler vs. George Johnson)

The Plaintiffs incorporate herein all preceding paragraphs.

  1. That the death of the late Stephen Hassler on February 4, 2012, was directly and proximate caused by the negligent actions of George Johnson.
  2. That Cynthia Hassler, the surviving spouse of the late Stephen Hassler, sustained pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering and other damages arising out of the death of Stephen Hassler.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Cynthia Hassler demands judgment against George Johnson, the amount of Three Million Dollars ($3,000,000.00) in compensatory damages, plus interest and costs as this Court deems appropriate.

COUNT III- WRONGFUL DEATH / VICARIOUS LIABILITY
(Amanda Hassler as surviving daughter of the late Stephen Hassler vs. Bower)

The Plaintiffs incorporate herein all preceding paragraphs.

  1. That the death of the late Stephen Hassler was directly and proximate caused by the negligent actions of George Johnson, who was acting within the scope of his employment with Bower Transfer Company Inc. on February 4, 2012, when he caused the physical injuries, conscious pain and suffering, and death of the late Stephen Hassler.
  2. That under Maryland Law Bower Transfer Company Inc. is vicariously liable for all of the negligent acts committed by its employee George Johnson on February 4, 2012.
  3. That Amanda Hassler, the surviving daughter of the late Stephen Hassler, sustained pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering and other damages arising out of the death of Stephen Hassler.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Amanda Hassler, demands judgment against the Bower Transfer Company Inc., in the amount of Three Million Dollars ($3,000,000.00) in compensatory damages, plus interest and costs as this Court deems appropriate.

COUNT IV - WRONGFUL DEATH

The Plaintiffs incorporate herein all preceding paragraphs.

  1. That the death of the late Stephen Hassler on February 4, 2012, was directly and proximate caused by the negligent actions of George Johnson.
  2. That Amanda Hassler, the surviving spouse of the late Stephen Hassler, sustained pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering and other damages arising out of the death of Stephen Hassler.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Amanda Hassler demands judgment against George Johnson, the amount of Three Million Dollars ($3,000,000.00) in compensatory damages, plus interest and costs as this Court deems appropriate.

Respectfully submitted,
MILLER & ZOIS, LLC

Ronald V.Miller, Jr.
1 South St, #2450
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-779-4600
410-760-8922 - FAX

What Needs to Be Included in the Lawsuit

Under Maryland Rule 2-303(b), plaintiffs' lawyer are not required to state every last factual detail. But you do need to provide enough information to reasonably put the defendant on notice of what the claim is really about. See Campbell v. Welsh, 54 Md. App. 614, 631, 460 A.2d 76, 86 (1983) (citing an older case for the proposition that a cause of action must be alleged with reasonable certainty, clearness and accuracy).

There are not many scenarios where a person ought to be filing a lawsuit without a good attorney behind them. Maryland law, unlike a lot of states, is very unforgiving of pro se defendants, finding that the burden to plead with the level of clarity required in Campbell holds equal force whether the lawsuit was filed by a lawyer or pro se. See Tretick v. Layman, 95 Md. App. 62, 68, 619 A.2d 201, 204 (1993).

There are not significant differences in the pleading you file for a wrongful death lawsuit as opposed to a normal injury claim. A plaintiff in a wrongful death action depends largely on the rights that the victim would have had if he had if he was injured instead of dying.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Checklist

This is a non-exhaustive checklist if you are filing a wrongful death case in Maryland:
  1. Residence of the plaintiffs and defendants
  2. Listing of all use plaintiffs
  3. Jurisdictional facts i.e. claim of over $75,000 (new rule since this complaint was filed)
  4. Explanation of why beneficiaries are correct under Maryland wrongful death statute
  5. Time, please and location of the negligence
  6. Personal representative of the Estate as plaintiff for survival action
  7. Duty the defendant owed the victim the breach of that duty and the negligence was a substantial contributing cause of the death.
  8. Date of death
  9. Set out economic loss
  10. Funeral and burial costs and medical expense (Estate's claim)
  11. Before victim died, he suffered physical and psychological pain and fright.

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