After the tragic mass shooting in a Tennessee Waffle House last April, a brother of one of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged shooter’s father. In the suit, the brother, Christian Perez, is claiming that the shooter’s father, Jeffrey Reinking, knew about his son’s mental health issues and that he wasn’t supposed to have guns, but he provided one to him anyway.
The suit lists a long history of incidences with the alleged shooter that indicate he was prone to mental disturbances, with a previous employers saying exactly that. He once breached the White House security barrier and demanded to speak with the president, identifying himself as a sovereign citizen; he indecently exposed himself at a public pool; he harassed and threatened employees at his father’s place of business with a rifle; and he was legally prohibited by Tazewell County to own a firearm.
When the county revoked the alleged shooter’s right to own a firearm, Jeffrey asked if he could take possession of them. The county agreed on the condition that he prohibit his son from accessing them. Despite this, the alleged shooter used one of those guns for the act. The suit argues that Jeffrey, despite knowing the legal prohibition and mental disturbances of his son, provided him with the rifle that he subsequently used to conduct a mass shooting.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a case in which the claimant accuses the defendant of contributing to the death of someone and claims the defendant owes damages because of that. This is different from charges like murder and homicide because wrongful death is a civil case rather than a criminal case. Keep in mind that having criminal charges does not disqualify someone from being sued for a wrongful death. Both can happen simultaneously.
In order to make a wrongful death claim, there are a few things you’ll have to prove. You must show that the death has impacted you and caused losses. You then have to demonstrate that the defendant was acting negligently and that negligence was the direct cause of the death. This kind of negligence usually involves a breach of duty or reasonable expectation.
Particularly, in this case, the suit claims that Jeffrey breached his duty to keep guns away from his son as ordered by the county court. That negligence directly leads to his son using that gun to kill the plaintiff’s brother. They are demanding over $50,000 in damages and a trial by jury.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
As shown in this suit, immediate family can sue for wrongful death. In fact, this is the most common kind of plaintiff in wrongful death cases, as they are the ones most directly affected by the death. There are other people who can sue for wrongful death, however, and it’s easy to understand with one simple guideline.
Anyone who suffered losses directly due to the death of someone can sue for wrongful death if the death was caused by the negligent behavior of someone else. Life partners who are not legally married can sue for wrongful death even without official immediate family status. Even distant family members can sue if the deceased was particularly influential in their life.
Types of Damages
When determining how much a case is worth, there are three types of damages to consider. The easiest to deal with are economic damages. These can actually be calculated by figuring out how much of a financial burden the death placed on the plaintiff. Economic damages come in the form of funeral and medical costs, lost wages, lost pension plans and all other financial contributions the deceased would have made if the death had not occurred.
Non-economic damages are a bit harder to quantify. These include general pain and suffering, loss of consort, loss of guidance and any other emotional impact. Generally, these are worth more than economic damages, but they are also harder to prove. You’ll definitely need the help of a Nashville wrongful death lawyer to make your case with this.
Finally, there are punitive damages. A lot of states have banned punitive damages altogether from wrongful death cases, but Tennessee just placed some restrictions. In short, punitive damages are meant to act as deterrents for future behavior and as a punishment for the defendant.
Nashville Wrongful Death Lawyer at Mitch Grissim & Associates
If you’re looking for a Nashville wrongful death lawyer to help in your case, look no further than Mitch Grissim & Associates. With our extensive experience and successful history, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands. Wrongful deaths are hard on everyone, and the incident in the Waffle House is no exception; wrongful death suits are sometimes necessary to get the damages you’re owed, allowing you to move on with your life. Contact us today for a free consultation.