Posts Tagged ‘Negligence’
Premises Liability - Friday, August 8, 2008 11:58 - 0 Comments
A lawsuit involving three children who watched their vacation cabin burn, knowing their parents were inside and unable to get out, has been settled. The children will receive more than $21 million from the settlement of the lawsuit. The 16-year-old twin boys and 14-year-old daughter of Patrick and Margaret Higdon filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Green Bay claiming negligence caused propane explosions in a Door County, Wisconsin, resort community in 2006. The lawsuit named the Cedar Grove Resort, some construction companies, a utility and their insurance companies as defendants. Adult relatives, including Margaret Higdon’s parents and siblings, who were vacationing with the family and were injured, also filed suit and reached a settlement. The amounts of those settlements haven’t been made public.
The $21 million settlement of the children’s case, reached last month, will be divided between Megan, Patrick and James – the three children. Under the settlement trust funds will be set up for them. The money is expected to grow to nearly $38.5 million over their lifetimes. Their parents, Patrick and Margaret Higdon, who were from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, died early July 10, 2006, while vacationing in a cottage with their children and other family members. The resort was located about 200 miles north of Milwaukee. Twelve other people were injured as a result of the explosion.
On the evening of the explosion, the family had enjoyed its usual routine which consisted of a family meal at a local restaurant followed by family time spent in the rental units talking, playing cards and other activities. They were asleep when several explosions rocked the resort in the early morning hours. Margaret Higdon’s parents, James and Margery Brooks, and the Higdon’s three children escaped. But Patrick and his wife were trapped inside, and Margaret’s voice could be heard, calling for help.
Two of the children suffered injuries. Megan’s spleen was shattered, and she had burns on the left side of her chest and blistering on her lips. She also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Her brother Patrick, then 14, suffered multiple facial fractures and first and second degree burns over 2% of his body. Patrick may have permanent loss of sensation in his left cheek, according to his doctor, and he probably won’t be able to ever fully open his mouth. His twin, James, suffered no physical injuries, even though he went back into the building to rescue his grandfather. The emotional distress suffered by these children was horrific and will affect them permanently. All three children now live with their grandparents.
An electrical contractor installing some underground electric lines for an upgrade of the resort’s docks ruptured a buried propane line three days before the explosion. The lawsuit claimed Arby Construction, Inc., severed the underground propane gas line while performing work for the resort. The four defendants who agreed to pay in the settlement are now taking the fifth defendant who refused to pay to court in an effort to force it to participate in the settlement by paying a portion of the total amount agreed to by the Plaintiffs. Ralph J. Tease Jr., a lawyer with Habush, Habush & Rottier in Green Bay, represented the plaintiffs in this lawsuit and did a tremendous job.
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