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Newport Beach Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Police for Suicide of Man While in Custody

December 31, 1969

A year after Robert Wedgeworth committed suicide while in police custody, his family has filed a Newport Beach wrongful death lawsuit against the city and members of it police department. According to his loved ones, the 43-year-old man, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was having a manic episode on July 31, 2010 when his wife, Sandy Wedgeworth, called 911 asking for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Instead, police arrested him on suspicion of spousal abuse and took him to jail.

In their Orange County, California wrongful death complaint, the plaintiffs contend that the cops disregarded the behavioral and physical signs that Wedgeworth was exhibiting indicating that he needed medical help. Within hours of his detention, he hanged himself with bedsheets while in a jail cell. His family is accusing the NBPD of denying him the medical care that he needed.

The city of Newport Beach says the civil suit is without merit and that its police officers followed procedures and had no grounds to think that Wedgeworth posed a threat to himself or anyone else. The DA has said that criminal negligence or malice wasn't involved and that the cops medically screened Wedgeworth and checked on him each hour. However, Sandy Wedgeworth says that what she'd wanted for her husband was the 72-hour detention for observation that is granted under California's Welfare & Institutions Code 5150 for people posing a danger to themselves and others. Police had provided that for him in the past.

It was in January that Sandy Wedgeworth and other family members filed four Newport Beach wrongful death claims against the city seeking about $34 million. In addition to allegedly acting negligently when they put him in a jail cell and deprived him of his right to medical attention, she claims that the Newport beach police may have assaulted her husband. Sandy also says that they jokes about the incident as they were apprehending him. The damages she is seeking include those for loss of a father, loss of a husband, emotional distress, and loss of future earnings.

California Wrongful Death

A party may decide to file an Orange County, California wrongful death lawsuit against those he/she believes was responsible for the death of a loved one. This type of civil complaint allows the plaintiff(s) to seek damages for funeral costs, burial/cremation expenses, medical bills, lost companionship, loss of love (and also care, comfort, moral support, protection, training, assistance, guidance, society, consortium, and affection), lost wages, and lost benefits, while holding the accountable parties liable. In some cases, punitive damages may also be sought.

Every state has its own wrongful death law. In this state you have two years from the date of the accident causing the fatality to file a California wrongful death lawsuit. That said, the sooner you start working with an experienced Newport Beach personal injury law firm that can begin gathering evidence and doing the other necessary steps to prove your case, the stronger your chances for a successful outcome.

Family of man who killed himself in police custody sues Newport, Daily Pilot, August 6, 2011

Family seeks $34 million after man's jail death, OC Register, January 27, 2011

Related Web Resources:

Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview, Nolo

Newport Beach Police Department

More Blog Posts:

Family Files Claim Blaming Newport Beach Police for Orange County, California Wrongful Death of Man who Hanged Himself in Jail, California Injury Lawyers, January 26, 2011

Huntington Beach Personal Injury Lawsuit: Man Alleging Police Brutality Claims He Was Choked by Cops, California Injury Lawyers, April 26, 2011

Buena Park Police Brutality Alleged in 2009 Incident Involving Man Arrested at Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park, California Injury Lawyers, February 17, 2011