National Park Faces $270 Million Wrongful Death Claim for Woman’s Decapitation
The family of a women's rights activist, Esther Nakajjigo, has filed a more than $270 million wrongful death and personal injury claim against the National Park Service after she was decapitated by an unsecured gate at Utah's Arches National Park.
New husband and wife, Esther Nakajjigo and Ludovic Michaud, were driving during a camping trip on June 13, 2020, when a metal gate blew closed in strong winds and sliced through the side of their car.
Michuad is seeking a little more than $240 million in damages, while Nakajjigo's parents are seeking $30 million.
Attorney Deborah Chang, who filed the claim on behalf of Michaud, as well as Nakajjigo's parents, wrote that the National Park Service has for years used entrance and exit gates made of metal poles with “spear-like sharp ends," and they were known to swing into roadways when left unsecured. Employees “knew or should have known that winds strong enough to carve stone are certainly strong enough to blow an unrestrained metal pipe gate into the path of an oncoming vehicle,” wrote Chang.
Michaud's attorneys also said the federal government was aware of the dangers, citing a 1980 accident in which a man was impaled by an unsecured gate as he rode in the back of a pickup in California's Stanislaus National Park.
The Federal Torts Act is federal legislation enacted in 1946 that provides a legal means for compensating individuals who have suffered personal injury, death, or property loss or damage caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the federal government. While there are exceptions to what claims may be payable under the FTCA, it generally allows individuals to recover monetary damages from the United States under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable in accordance with the law of the place where the negligent or wrongful act occurred.
The United States is liable “for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.”
If your loved one has been killed due to the negligence of another, the attorneys at Kimmel, Carter, Roman, Peltz & O’Neill are here to help. For a free consultation, call 302-565-6100