Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lawsuits and Death

I may be getting old and crotchety, but this rubs me the wrong way. Apparently, the families of the District girls who died under their mother's care are planning on suing the District.

I will admit that I don't know many of the facts of this case other than what I've seen in the paper. The facts so far seem to indicate that the mother, Banita Jacks, had custody of four girls (fathered by, it appears, at least two different men), and that she, well, wasn't all that fit to raise them. From what I've seen, she withdrew all four of the girls from the schools they were attending, going so far as to tell school officials that she was home-schooling them. She then promptly locked the girls in the house, such that no one ever saw them again.

And then they turned up dead.

Look, I don't doubt that the District could have done a better job in policing this family. They purported to conduct home visits of the house, but never actually saw the kids. And then they appear to have accepted without question someone's assertion that the family had moved.

But what's notably missing from all the news accounts about this case -- including this most recent one -- is what contact the girls had with any of the following people: Mamie Jacks (the girls' grandmother and Benita Jacks' mother); Jessie Fogle (grandmother of the two younger girls); Kevin Stoddard (father of second oldest girl); and the father of oldest girl.

Both of the grandmothers appear to have served notice upon the Mayor that they are planning a lawsuit over the deaths of these children. The father of the second oldest girl (reported to be Mr. Stoddard) also commented, through his attorney, that he plans to sue. But on what basis?

From all that is apparent, none of these people had or attempted to make any contact with Ms. Jacks or the children during the troubling period of time. None of them went by the house demanding to spend some quality time with their kin. Did any of them offer to babysit or take the kids away from Ms. Jacks for any period of time? Had any one of them stopped by or otherwise questioned the strange circumstances brewing in Ms. Jacks's house, perhaps someone could have done something sooner.

Now, apparently not having given much of a second thought to their kin for some period of time, are they seriously suggesting that they should somehow be compensated for their deaths? Just how much pain and suffering could they have experienced from their deaths if they weren't seeking to experience joy and love from them when they were alive?

But apparently, headline-grabbing deaths must, as a matter of necessity, result in a lawsuit. There's gold in them thar deaths.

1 comment:

Rich said...

We have become, I'm sure to no one's great surprise, a frighteningly litigious society hell-bent on laying claim to any possible dollar out there. Everything is always "their" fault, never "mine". Personal responsibility is a joke. Juries award insane amounts of money because each member hopes that on the day they approach with their hands held out someone will dump just as much money on them. And the worst part is, legitimate lawsuits get swept up into this mess, devaluing the entire legal process.