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Wrongful death lawsuit over child's killing is ongoing

The gruesome murder of a 9-year-old child in 2009 left the nation horrified. It was even more shocking when her 15-year-old neighbor admitted to stabbing and strangling the girl before slitting her throat. 

Three years after her daughter's death, the mother of the 9-year-old filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Loved ones can seek legal redress when someone suffers a wrongful death as the result of the negligence of another person or institution. 

The distraught mother sued her daughter's killer, and a psychiatric center that had treated the 15-year-old, as well as two of its workers. The mother's lawyer claimed that the assailant's violent tendencies were well recorded from a young age. The lawsuit states that employees of the medical center knew of threats specifically to the victim, and that these workers failed to act to warn the victim's family or prevent the homicide.

The case has, however, been complicated due to the confidentiality of patient records. The family's lawyer has accused the health facility of blocking access to the killer's medical records as part of discovery. The facility's lawyers however replied by stating that medical institutions are required to assert privilege. Although the victim's mother subsequently dropped the medical facility and its employees as defendants, this was done without prejudice. This means they can still be sued in future. The killer remains as a defendant in the suit and the case is still ongoing.

The future of this case remains to be seen. For now, it illustrates for Ohio residents the fact that the loved ones of the victims of tragic accidents, or of violence, may pursue justice in both the criminal and civil arenas in order to hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions.

Source: The News Tribune, " Suit over 'wrongful death' of Elizabeth Olten still ongoing", Bob Watson, March 15, 2014

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