The parents of Kendrick Johnson are seeking unspecified monetary damages in the latest development in a case that was widely reported in early 2013. Johnson, 17, was found in a rolled-up gym mat in his high school gymnasium, and authorities attributed his death to a freak accident, claiming he had been trapped after falling head first into the mat.
Johnson’s case was reopened last summer after his parents asked for a second autopsy, which revealed blunt force trauma to the victim’s neck. The teen’s organs were missing and his body had been stuffed with newspaper, leading the family to sue the funeral home, alleging interference with the investigation.
The Johnsons also filed suit against the school board this spring, alleging the board had been negligent in handling incidents of bullying and harassment. Both suits against the school cite a school bus altercation between Kendrick and another student. Although they do not allege that the student in the bus incident was involved in their son’s death, the family does believe that a more thorough investigation of the earlier incident would have prevented further bullying, and that such action would likely have kept their son alive.
The most recent suit, for wrongful death, is against the county school board, the superintendent and the principal of Lowndes High School, whom the Johnsons claim are responsible for Kendrick’s death. Three types of damages are typically available to the survivors in a case like this: economic, non-economic and punitive. Economic damages cover expenses related to the victim’s potential financial contributions to the survivors, including expected earnings and other benefits, as well as medical and funeral expenses related to the death. Non-economic damages cover less tangible losses, such as loss of relationship, as well as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of particularly bad conduct on the part of the defendant.
If you believe you may have grounds to file a wrongful death suit in connection with your loved one’s death, qualified attorneys are available for consultation. Speak with a respected San Diego wrongful death attorney at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire to discuss your options.