A party can be sued for a person's negligent death even if they were not criminally responsible for that fatality. In one case, the mother of four children who died in a possible arson fire two years ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her former landlords.
The fire broke out in the dwelling on Columbia Street in downtown Flora on Nov. 21, 2016. The woman's four children, who were 11, 9, 7 and 5, were trapped in the structure and killed. The mother escaped.
An investigation into the case has encountered problems. A television station revealed inaccuracies in the state fire marshal's first report. According to the report, accelerants were found throughout the house. However, state police claimed that accelerants were located only in one place.
The state fire marshal resigned and then the county prosecutor announced that he will retire for personal reasons at the end of 2018. The Flora Fire Chief also resigned. The state police said it received tips over the last few months and is looking at individuals of interest, but no arrests were made.
Shortly before the two-year statute of limitations ended, the mother filed a wrongful death cause of action against the structure's two landlords and their company. Her attorney said that their investigation blamed the deaths on the lack of operable smoke detectors. A defective kitchen appliance was a contributing factor. The mother also claimed that before the fire she complained about the insufficient number of working smoke detectors, electrical outlets that did not function and non-locking doors in the structure.
The plaintiff also filed a products liability suit against Sears and Whirlpool. She held them liable for the appliances that played a role in the fire, according to her complaint.
Families who suffer the loss of a loved one because of negligence or recklessness may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them pursue this right in a lawsuit.