Stephon Clark’s family files wrongful death lawsuit

police sirenAttorneys for the family of Stephon Clark have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sacramento Police Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet as well as the City of Sacramento alleging the officers racially profiled and used excessive force in fatally shooting the unarmed, African-American father of two. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District of California on behalf of Stephon’s two sons, his parents and his grandparents, seeks to hold the officers and the city accountable for violating various civil rights under federal law as well as the California Bane Act that resulted in the execution of decedent, Stephon Clark.

Plaintiffs are represented by Brian Panish of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, Dale K. Galipo of The Law Offices of Dale K. Galipo, and Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law, PLLC.

As alleged in the complaint, Officers Mercadal and Robinet shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon in the backyard of his family’s home on May 18, 2018 as his grandparents watched in horror. The officers failed to identify themselves as police or issue any verbal warning that deadly force would be used before discharging their firearms approximately 20 times – at least eight (8) bullets struck Stephon, including multiple shots to his back as he made his way to the ground as well as when he was on the ground. Unresponsive and bleeding profusely from his wounds, the officers deprived Stephon of life-saving medical care, causing him extreme mental and physical pain and suffering as his body succumbed to his injuries. At the time of the shooting, Stephon was unarmed, holding only a cell phone, and had not committed a crime or posed a threat to the officers before he was shot and killed.

The actions of Mercadal and Robinet deprived Stephon of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and applied to state actors by the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs assert that the officers use of deadly force was excessive and unreasonable under the circumstances because Stephon was not armed and “this was not an immediate defense of life situation, the involved officers did not give a verbal warning
that deadly force would be used despite it being feasible to do so, there were no commands given and there were other reasonable options available other than shooting and killing the decedent.

“This family deserves answers and full transparency from the officers, the city and the Sacramento Police Department on the unjustified use of excessive and lethal force that killed Stephon Clark and robbed his children of a future with their father. When the facts are fully disclosed, we are confident that a jury will deliver justice that reflects how grossly the police and city officials failed Stephon, his family and the people of Sacramento,” said Brian Panish, attorney for the children of Stephon Clark.

“The Sacramento police executed Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard, mistaking his cell phone for a gun, assuming he was a criminal threat simply because he was a black man. Then they ignored him for six minutes, failing to render any help to save his life. Stephon’s life had value. In America, a life – even a black life — can’t be arbitrarily extinguished without holding those responsible accountable. To dismiss their behavior is horrendously disrespectful. We are filing a civil action today because nothing will change in America until the wrongful death of a black man is met with requisite justice, because justice equals respect — not only for Stephon, but for all black people, ” said Ben Crump, attorney for the family of Stephon Clark.

As a result of the officers’ actions, Stephon’s children, parents and grandparents have been deprived of his life-long love, companionship, comfort, support, society, care, and sustenance for the remainder of their lives. Plaintiffs further assert that the conduct of the officers was “willful, wanton, malicious, and done with reckless disregard for the rights and safety of decedent and therefore warrants the imposition of exemplary and punitive damages as to Defendants Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet.”

“Since district attorneys throughout the state and the country are reluctant to press criminal charges against police officers involved in unjustified shootings, families of the victims of these unjustified shootings are left only with civil remedies in a Civil Rights action. Hopefully, the City of Sacramento will recognize how unjustified the killing of Stephon Clark was and offer an apology and substantial compensation to his family without delay. This is the first step to have the family start the healing process. One of the goals of this lawsuit is to not only get justice for Stephon’s family but to help prevent this type of incident from happening again” said Dale K. Galipo, attorney for the family of Stephon Clark.

The family is seeking treble damages under Civil Code Section 52.1 and compensatory damages – including survival and wrongful death damages in excess of $20,000,000, funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and attorney fees as well as punitive damages against the individual defendants in an amount to be proven at trial.
A criminal investigation into the fatal shooting was concluded by the Sacramento Police Department in October 2018 and sent to the Sacramento County District Attorney to determine if criminal charges should be filed against Mercadal and/or Robinet. To date, City officials have yet to issue their findings as to whether the officers were found to be within policy for their use of deadly force or if they will be disciplined and/or charged for Stephon Clark’s execution.

You can read the full complaint here.

Family of Construction Worker Killed in Fall from Balcony Recovers $7.5 Million

law news, legal news, verdict, settlementThe family an Illinois electrician obtained a $7.5 million settlement after he was killed while installing lighting on a balcony at an apartment complex, and fell after another worker left a guardrail unsecured.

Scott Liszkiewicz, age 50, was installing light fixtures on a second-floor balcony of a maintenance building of the Prairie View Apartments in Bellwood, Illinois, which were undergoing renovations on Nov. 18, 2014, when another construction worker removed the balcony’s rail in order to install siding.  The worker went to lunch instead of immediately reattaching the rail, which appeared to be secured.  

Liszkiewicz suffered head and spinal cord injuries in the two-story fall and died three weeks later.

“It was obvious from the beginning that Scott’s wife Angie was determined to do what she could do to ease his excruciating pain of his catastrophic injuries all the while knowing it was only matter of time until he would pass in the hospital and not in his home.  My heart went out to her and their son Nicholas. We were determined to make sure the two of them would be taken care of to the best of our abilities,” said Philip Corboy, Jr., a Partner at Corboy & Demetrio in Chicago, which represents the estate.

The lawsuit named as defendants, CRG Residential, LLC, a Carmel, Indiana subcontractor; and CRG’s subcontractor RC Schwartz, which was hired to remove and replace siding.  In addition, Urban Innovations owned the project site and retained CRG Residential as its general contractor.

“This senseless tragedy, exemplified by a triad of construction site blunders, took away the life of a loving husband, father and breadwinner.  Miscommunications and sloppy work practices between the two defendants produced this fatality, which was clearly avoidable,” said Corboy & Demetrio Partner Edward G. Willer, who along with William T. Gibbs, also represented the estate.

The case is Angela Liszkiewicz, Administrator of Estate of Scott Liszkiewicz v. CRG Residential, LLC, Chris R.C. Schwartz doing business as RC Construction, Case No. 15C4088, in U.S. Northern District Court. Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. approved the settlement on Dec. 12, 2017.

Why is the Amount of Wrongful Death Cases by Car Accidents Increasing?

How has the total number of vehicle miles traveled changed?
In 2015, Americans drove more than they have in a decade. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that Americans drove 3.148 trillion miles in 2015. This figure broke the previous record of 3.003 trillion miles, set in 2007.

rear end collision, jury verdict, liability

Even though the plaintiff had physical therapy, epidural injections and neck fusion surgery, the defense disputed the plaintiff’s injuries.

According to the data, the total U.S. vehicle miles traveled increased three percent in 2016, compared to 2015. As long as gas prices remain low and air travel remains expensive, this trend is likely to continue.

Although the NHTSA reports that the number of accidents per vehicle miles traveled had dropped significantly — from 1.73 (1994) to 1.08 (2014) per million miles traveled — the number grew to 1.12 in 2015.

How much does human error contribute to wrongful death car accidents?
Basic human error remains a constant factor in vehicle fatalities. Although the data varies across sources, the NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey found that human error is the “critical reason” for 94 percent of auto accidents.

Driver performance error and driver judgment error are two categories explored recently in an extensive study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The PNAS research demonstrated that driver performance error — including failure to use turn signals, stop/yield violations, making an improper turn and driving too slowly — increases the overall risk of a crash 18.2 times.

How has driver distraction influenced car crash fatalities?
Of the car crash fatalities that happened every day in 2015, almost 10 of those resulted from distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The role that distracted driving plays in roadway fatalities is likely being underreported, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), which means that this problem is likely even worse than experts previously thought.

Pew Research Center (PRC) data shows that U.S. cell phone ownership increased from 66 percent in 2006 to 95 percent in 2016. Smartphone ownership increased from 35 to 77 percent between 2011 (the earliest PRC began tracking smartphone ownership) and 2016. Distracted driving accidents also saw large increases during this period.

The NHTSA reports that, for 2015, distraction-affected fatalities increased 8.8 percent from 2014, as compared to a 7.2 percent overall increase in car crash deaths.

It is important to note that while cell phone and smartphone use are the most talked about, they are not the only factors associated with distracted driving.
AAA reports that all the following can contribute to an accident:

• On-board automotive technology, including climate control and “infotainment” systems
• Stress
• Mental distractions

Are there any other reasons for this increase in car accident fatalities?
While most believe that safety technology helps us avoid accidents, this technology might actually lead to more accidents, according to This is because we rely so heavily on these technologies that we allow ourselves to become complacent and distracted.

Instead of checking twice before we merge into another lane, we might glance once and then allow our blind spot monitors to do the rest. But technology, just like humans can make mistakes — and in these cases, they can be deadly.

If drivers put their phones down, drove more carefully, focused their entire attention on the road, and stopped relying so fully on their vehicle’s safety features, we could stop these deadly accidents from happening in the future.

By: Barry Levy, Attorney & Owner of Levy Law Offices.

Patient Safety in Doctor’s Offices and Hospitals – How Medical Errors Place Patients in Danger

Ask most people what they worry about when visiting a hospital and they will probably tell you they are afraid of getting a shot, having blood drawn, or surgery. However, most people probably never realize the dangers involved with preventable medical errors, anesthesia mistakes, hospital acquired infections, medication errors, and many other problems related to medical malpractice.

While most people probably never think they will encounter a medical error when visiting a doctor’s office or hospital, maybe they should think twice. Statistics show nearly every patient who enters a hospital will experience a medical error at least once during their hospitalization. Although most medical errors are not serious or even noticeable, some cause serious injuries or death. Every year approximately 225,000 people in the United States die from medical malpractice, making it the third leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer. Many additional people are injured from medical mistakes as well.

Anesthesia errors are one area most people give very little thought to. Most people meet with their doctor before surgery, but very few people every meet their anesthesiologist. Anesthesia errors can happen at any time before, during, or after a surgery. In fact anesthesia errors can even happen after a successful surgery. When the surgery is complete and the patient is recovering on the surgical floor or in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU), the surgeon generally defers to the anesthesiologist for all evaluation and management decisions. The anesthesiologist has control over the patient’s life functions, including breathing and heart rate. After surgery is complete and the patient is in PACU, he or she is not out of danger, and a simple mistake can lead to a serious and permanent brain injury or even death. Anesthesia errors are on the rise as more people are having common elective procedures such as plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in surgical centers and doctor’s offices. This has led to an increase of doctor’s entering the field. Unfortunately there are many doctors who are not fully trained or have adequate experience in performing these delicate procedures. In addition, many doctor’s offices may have improperly trained anesthetists rather than certified anesthesiologists. If a medical emergency happens in a doctor’s office or cosmetic clinic, these facilities usually do not have access to highly trained nurses and medical staff to handle the emergency, and a patient may lose many precious minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive to transport them to a hospital. During this time, a patient’s serious condition could escalate into a severe medical injury, including permanent brain damage or death.

Patients who have been injured due to medical negligence from a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist or medical facility, need to consult with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. If at all possible, an attorney with a strong medical background will be helpful. Doctors and other medical professionals know how to avoid responsibility for medical malpractice, including using complicated medical terminology to confuse patient’s and even attorneys as to their role in the medical injury. This is why it is critical for a victim of medical malpractice to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney such as Dr. Bruce Fagel. Dr. Fagel is both a leading medical malpractice attorney and a licensed medical doctor. Dr. Fagel even practiced emergency room medicine for 10 years before becoming an attorney.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates at (800) 541-9376 right away for a free consultation. There is never a fee unless we win your case.