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Did Negligence Kill Jessica Lunsford?

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 1:05 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Negligence, Wrongful Death, Soverign Immunity

A negligence and wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against law enforcement in the Jessica Lunsford death.

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Lawyers for the father of a nine-year-old killed by a neighboring sex offender say they will sue under a little used Florida statute.

Lawyers for Mark Lunsford have given their six-month notice of intent to pursue a wrongful death and negligence claim for damages against the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Citrus County Board of Commissioners.

The suit will be filed by Mark Lunsford and Angela Wright, the parents of Jessica Lunsford. They claim negligence caused mental pain and suffering to themselves and other family members.

On February 23, 2005 the little girl was taken from her mobile home bedroom in Homosassa, Florida.  Law enforcement launched a local search while Jessica was being hidden in a mobile home 100 yards away by convicted sex offended John Couey.

Jessica was found buried in a shallow grave with her toy stuffed dolphin. Couey confessed he kept her in his bedroom and closet for three to six days, had raped her numerous times then told her to climb into a black plastic bag. He bound her hands with speaker wire and buried her alive in a two and a half foot grave. 

He then got on a bus to Georgia with a ticket purchased by his sister.

In August of last year, Couey was sentenced to death for kidnapping, rape and murder of Jessica.

Eric S. Block and Mark Gelman are the attorneys filing the wrongful death lawsuit against the government alleging negligence. They appeared on Fox News O’Reilly Factor Monday night. 

Lawyer Mark Gelman said, “The truth is Jessica did not have to die. She could have been saved.”

“A few months before FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) said to Citrus County to round-up the sex offenders. A few months before Couey was reported as living in that trailer and they were told there was a warrant and he was a sex offender and go pick him up. No one did.”

Attorney Eric Block told Bill O’Reilly that no one ever went into the mobile home to look for Jessica even though dog handlers had followed a trail to the trailer Couey shared with two women.  “They were told to stand down” said Block.

O'Reilly asked why the women who bought the bus ticket were never charged. The two lawyers reminded him they are not criminal but civil attorneys. They plan to pursue that question of law enforcement.

The suit will be filed under a little used Florida Statute 768.28 which waives sovereign immunity in lawsuits against the state. But the statute makes it difficult to file a claim against the state or any of its agencies and limits judgments to $100,000 and attorney’s fees to 25 percent of the judgment. Awards cannot include punitive damages.

However, the Florida Legislature can opt to pay a jury judgment out of state funds.

Daniel Iracki, an attorney working with Eric Block, tells IB News this case is not about money.

“Law enforcement has a general duty to protect but there is one exception; it’s a special duty doctrine. This case is a text book fit into that exception. A government entity takes on the assurances they will take a specific action. By doing that an individual relies on that representation, otherwise they would do it themselves. In this case a government entity did it in a negligent manner.”

At a news conference last week, Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said the litigation is baseless.

“There is nothing there. A lot of you followed this case and saw the efforts put forth by the men and women of this organization, the Florida Department of Law enforcement, FBI and countless other agencies. And I think everybody in my family at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and also my community have to know that Commissioner Bailey [FDLE] and I are going to vigorously defend our agencies against this baseless allegation made by the Lunsfords that we failed to do our job."

After Jessica’s death, Mark Lunsford pushed for the tightening of rules regarding sex offenders in Florida.  

Known as the Jessica Lunsford Reform Act, Florida now requires convicted sexual predators to have a designated marking on their driver’s license.  And school construction sites must be separated by a six-foot-chain-link fence while workers must submit to fingerprints and background screening each year even if they have no contact with students. Couey worked a construction job at Jessica’s school.

33 states have enacted some form of Jessica’s law under help provided by a foundation set up in her honor.    #

 


7 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Brittnay
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:33 PM EST

"Lawyer Mark Gelman said, “The truth is Jessica did not have to die. She could have been saved.”

Well DUH!!! Had John Couey been given treatment when he asked for help, they would have seen that this man needed to be looked at much closer. Couey asked several times for help saying that he had "a sickness" and that he would "do it again."

At the very least they would have seen that there is a very serious problem here and no doubt in my mind, Jessica would be alive today had Couey been looked at when he pleaded for help.

My other complaint is that 90 to 95% of all first time sex offenders NEVER EVER repeat another sex crime. U.S. Dept of Justice says 3.5%. N.Y. last year came out with their rare of recidivism for first time offenders. 2.1% and the California Dept of Corrections just released their report with less than 4% recidivism rate. There are many more reports with very very low rates. So, just what the heck are we doing lieing to the public and wasting Billions upon Billions when these laws are based on very rare crimes committed by the rarest of individuals? It's UnAmerican to punish people committed by someone else. But that is exactly where this society is headed. it is what we are doing with the AWA and Jessica's law.

Read the HRW Report.

LINK

Posted by ZMan
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 5:40 PM EST

LINK

Yes, Couey begged and begged and begged for treatment, which they did not give to him, so that would've prevented this.

Also, on the night Jessica went missing, Mark Lunsford went over to his "girl friends" home late and night after tucking Jessica into bed, AND HE LEFT THE DOOR UNLOCKED!!! Another issue that would've possibly prevented this.

Couey also stated that Mark had a big dog, which for some reason did not bark at him, so it sounds to me like he knew the family.

Also, why did they not investigate the child porn Mark Lunsford had on his machine? Which magically vanished??

LINK 2007/03/couey-trial.html

Mark, IMO, is exploiting his daughters death to make money. He was a nobody until this, now he has a ton of money compared to what he had before.

LET HER REST IN PEACE!!!

Anonymous User
Posted by maddylady
Sunday, March 16, 2008 11:03 AM EST

The poster known as Zman is a convicted pedophile.

LINK

Posted by lisa stolzenburg
Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:07 PM EST

I do not think that anybody is immuned to having their child taken out of the home. Also you say Mark was a nobody--Mark is a human being and a father.Also jessica was a very happy child--you can see that in her face in her pictures!Yes 'doors should be locked obviously and alarms installed and there needs to be mor police patrols and neighborhood watches...if there had of been maybe someone would of saw something or noticed the obviously mentally ill guy drunk and drugged up in their neighborhood and questioned him and his weird associates and had them at least checked out..but this is a big cold world out there and nobody gets involved or ignores who their neighbors might be or what they might be up to. It is not the familys fault for what some weirdo done.What can be done is what Mark did--to make the gov. sign a bill to keep tabs on predators and we need to do more. Anybody who has kids or knows a kid need to get involved..prevention and to keep these people in custody is the best answer and if that law haad been in effect then maybe the chances of this happening would of been alot slimmer. Its still not a law and these perverts are still screwing with us. Speaking of porno--there should be a law against it being put on the computers or in stores--there isnt any so that is why alotr of kids grow up to be predators--they see perverted and sick stuff on tv and oncomputer all the time. Theres also not enough strict drug laws--Cooey even admitted to using hard drugs. He was out of his mind when he did this ontop of being a sick pervert.

Posted by lisa stolzenburg
Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:07 PM EST

I do not think that anybody is immuned to having their child taken out of the home. Also you say Mark was a nobody--Mark is a human being and a father.Also jessica was a very happy child--you can see that in her face in her pictures!Yes 'doors should be locked obviously and alarms installed and there needs to be mor police patrols and neighborhood watches...if there had of been maybe someone would of saw something or noticed the obviously mentally ill guy drunk and drugged up in their neighborhood and questioned him and his weird associates and had them at least checked out..but this is a big cold world out there and nobody gets involved or ignores who their neighbors might be or what they might be up to. It is not the familys fault for what some weirdo done.What can be done is what Mark did--to make the gov. sign a bill to keep tabs on predators and we need to do more. Anybody who has kids or knows a kid need to get involved..prevention and to keep these people in custody is the best answer and if that law haad been in effect then maybe the chances of this happening would of been alot slimmer. Its still not a law and these perverts are still screwing with us. Speaking of porno--there should be a law against it being put on the computers or in stores--there isnt any so that is why alotr of kids grow up to be predators--they see perverted and sick stuff on tv and oncomputer all the time. Theres also not enough strict drug laws--Cooey even admitted to using hard drugs. He was out of his mind when he did this ontop of being a sick pervert.

Posted by lisa stolzenburg
Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:07 PM EST

I do not think that anybody is immuned to having their child taken out of the home. Also you say Mark was a nobody--Mark is a human being and a father.Also jessica was a very happy child--you can see that in her face in her pictures!Yes 'doors should be locked obviously and alarms installed and there needs to be mor police patrols and neighborhood watches...if there had of been maybe someone would of saw something or noticed the obviously mentally ill guy drunk and drugged up in their neighborhood and questioned him and his weird associates and had them at least checked out..but this is a big cold world out there and nobody gets involved or ignores who their neighbors might be or what they might be up to. It is not the familys fault for what some weirdo done.What can be done is what Mark did--to make the gov. sign a bill to keep tabs on predators and we need to do more. Anybody who has kids or knows a kid need to get involved..prevention and to keep these people in custody is the best answer and if that law haad been in effect then maybe the chances of this happening would of been alot slimmer. Its still not a law and these perverts are still screwing with us. Speaking of porno--there should be a law against it being put on the computers or in stores--there isnt any so that is why alotr of kids grow up to be predators--they see perverted and sick stuff on tv and oncomputer all the time. Theres also not enough strict drug laws--Cooey even admitted to using hard drugs. He was out of his mind when he did this ontop of being a sick pervert.

Posted by lisa stolzenburg
Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:07 PM EST

I do not think that anybody is immuned to having their child taken out of the home. Also you say Mark was a nobody--Mark is a human being and a father.Also jessica was a very happy child--you can see that in her face in her pictures!Yes 'doors should be locked obviously and alarms installed and there needs to be mor police patrols and neighborhood watches...if there had of been maybe someone would of saw something or noticed the obviously mentally ill guy drunk and drugged up in their neighborhood and questioned him and his weird associates and had them at least checked out..but this is a big cold world out there and nobody gets involved or ignores who their neighbors might be or what they might be up to. It is not the familys fault for what some weirdo done.What can be done is what Mark did--to make the gov. sign a bill to keep tabs on predators and we need to do more. Anybody who has kids or knows a kid need to get involved..prevention and to keep these people in custody is the best answer and if that law haad been in effect then maybe the chances of this happening would of been alot slimmer. Its still not a law and these perverts are still screwing with us. Speaking of porno--there should be a law against it being put on the computers or in stores--there isnt any so that is why alotr of kids grow up to be predators--they see perverted and sick stuff on tv and oncomputer all the time. Theres also not enough strict drug laws--Cooey even admitted to using hard drugs. He was out of his mind when he did this ontop of being a sick pervert.

Comments for this article are closed.

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