Coping with the death of a family member is difficult. But the feelings of grief and sadness that are associated with a wrongful death - or a death that occurred due to the negligence or misconduct of another being - are unmatched. In the nation, family members of a deceased person have the constitutional right to bring a lawsuit against a person, organization or entity that they believe caused the death of their loved one. In the event that a court finds that a defendant is in fact legally liable for a death, a family will be awarded the compensatory damages that they sought out for in their lawsuit. Unfortunately, wrongful death claims are brought and resolved at staggering rates, leaving families with some consolation after coping with the preventable passing of the deceased.
In recent news, a wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the girlfriend of a Joliet man who died last year. The lawsuit alleges that her boyfriend, Chris Messino, wouldn't have died from a stress-induced heart attack if he hadn't been unlawfully arrested in 2015. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Constance Waterworth. She's seeking unspecified damages for her and a child that she and Messino had together. The city of Joliet and two local law enforcement agents are listed as defendants in the suit. She claims that the Joliet Police Department “directly caused and contributed to (Messino's) untimely and wrongful death.”
The lawsuit explicitly detailed the fateful day the 57-year-old was arrested. According to court documents, Messino was on his way to his Waterworth's home when he noticed that he was being followed by police. The authorities followed him all the way to her home. When Messino pulled into his girlfriend's driveway, the police decided to turn on their emergency lights. They claim that they had observed a traffic violation while the man was driving. Upon getting out the car, Messino admitted to police that the car belonged to his girlfriend and that he did not have an authorized license on him at that time.
Soon after this confession, the police officers arrested him for driving on a revoked license - a felony offense- and several traffic offenses, including disregarding a traffic signal. Waterworth's lawsuit states that the officers used "excessive force" with both her and Messino at the time of arrest. As a result, he spent two entire nights in jail before being released on bond.
However, Messino's court proceedings indicated that the time he spent in jail was unwarranted. His attorney asserted that the arrest was unlawful based on video obtained from the squad car camera. The lawyer pointed out that no violations were committed by the Messino before he was arrested. The case was dismissed in April of last year.
Shortly after the dismissal (one month to be exact) Messino died. According to the suit, Messino began to exhibit symptoms of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and anxiety. He was given medication for his many conditions. Court documents detailed that he was in good health before the incident occurred.
Waterworth alleges that the high expenses related to the case, the stress of the wrongful arrest had an adverse effect on Messino's health. She said that shortly after the incident, he had lost his job and was working diligently to find another one to provide for his family.
The Joliet city attorney, as well as all of the defendants in the case, have yet to respond.
Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys
If your loved one has died due to the negligence of another individual, company or entity you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Benassi & Benassi today for a consultation.