Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today In Wrongful Death Litigation

The West Virginia Supreme Court has reversed a finding of defective service in a case brought by an estate representative for a death that took place on a whitewater rafting trip on the Cheat River.

The service issue involved a rafting guide who lived a "transient" lifestyle. In response to a summons left at his parent's house in West Virginia, he filed an affidavit claiming not to live there but rather on a boat docked in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The plaintiffs responded that the self-serving affidavit failed to establish that service was defective.

The court agreed with the plaintiff, noting that the defendant guide claimed the parent's house as his residence on multiple forms filed with the West Virginia motor vehicle authorities.

In an unrelated matter, the New York Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department affirmed dismissal of an estate's wrongful death action against New York State in a matter in which a visitor to Taughannock Falls State Park had walked past warning signs and was killed by falling rocks.

The incident that led to the litigation can be best understood through this photograph and story at NY  (Mike Frisch)

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