In late November 2016, Bobbi Brown’s estate was awarded $36 million in damages to be paid by her former boyfriend, Nick Gordon. Bobbi Brown, daughter of the law Whitney Houston, died in July 2015 from cardiac arrest. While the exact circumstances of her death are still unknown, Brown’s father alleged that Gordon gave Bobbi a “toxic cocktail” and then put her face down in a bathtub with water. Bobbi was initially comatose for six months before ultimately dying from cardiac arrest.
While initially requesting $50 million in damages, Bobbi’s estate won $36 million to cover her future potential earnings, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering. It is expected that Gordon will be required to pay his future earnings to Bobbi’s estate until he satisfies the judgment. Though Gordon initially fought the civil suit, he failed to appear to several hearings. No criminal charges have been filed against Gordon.
Wrongful Death vs. Criminal Charges
There are several reasons why an estate will bring a wrongful death action. Sometimes, this is because there is not enough evidence for the government to indict the respondent with criminal charges. Other times, monetary damages are necessary to support the victim’s family.
Wrongful death actions are civil cases, which means the burden of proof is easier to meet. Instead of requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt, wrongful death actions only require proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Colloquially, this means that the petitioner of a wrongful death only need to prove that it was more likely than not the fault of the respondent.
A wrongful death action is still available despite criminal charges. This means that it can be brought before, after, or concurrent with them. They serve different purposes where wrongful death suits provide damages for the estate or family of the deceased and criminal charges hold someone who is responsible for intentionally causing the death.
Damages in Wrongful Death Suits
Wrongful death suits are appealing because they provide many different options for damages. Some common damages in a wrongful death suit are:
- Pain and Suffering
- Future Earning Capacity
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Medical Care
- Loss of Consortium
- Punitive Damages
If your loved one suffered a premature death, it is possible that there is a wrongful death suit available for pursuit. While no money can bring remedy the loss of a loved one, it can be helpful to provide support for transitioning families. If you live in the Los Angeles area please contact Fox & Fox Law Corporation at (818) 986-4494 for a free consultation today!