A wrongful death settlement which some have referred to as “groundbreaking” was reached in late May of 2015 involving 27 year old Christopher Torres and APD officer, Christopher Brown. In 2011, Brown and another detective were attempting to arrest Torres in his backyard. After a scuffle, Torres was shot and succumbed to his injuries.
The APD originally claimed that Torres was shot because he reached for the officer’s gun during the struggle. The Torres family, however, argued that their loved one was on his stomach and could not have possibly attempted to reach for the weapon.
$6 Million Settlement with the City of Albuquerque
In June 2014 the Torres family was awarded a $6 million settlement. However, due to a cap through the Tort Claims Act, the family was only able to immediately receive $400,000. The rest of the judgment has to pass through a federal civil rights trial, at which point all civil and federal lawsuits were officially settled for $6 million.
Nothing can bring a loved one back, but the Torres family is determined to make a difference in their community. Not only will part of the settlement amount be donated to local mental health organizations, but they plan to stay actively involved in holding the APD accountable and pushing for a reform of their system. Most importantly, however, is the fact that they have now cleared Christopher Torres’ name.
Filing a Wrongful Death Case in New Mexico
Who can file a wrongful death case will vary form state to state. In the state of New Mexico, the personal representative of the deceased individual must file the claim (this is usually the personal named in the deceased love one’s estate plan). If there is no estate plan, or if the personal representative will not or cannot serve, the court will then appoint a personal representative.
Who Receives Awarded Damages?
While the personal representative must file a wrongful death claim, we make it clear to our clients that any damages are held by the estate and are for the benefit of surviving family members.
- Should there only be a surviving spouse (no children), the spouse would receive all damages
- Should there be a surviving spouse as well as at least one child or grandchild, half of the damages would go to the spouse and the other half would go to the child or grand child
- If only children or grand children are survivors, the damages are divided according to the state’s “right of representation” laws
Wrongful death cases are often painful and emotional for a family. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, confused, or overburdened, our expert personal injury attorneys a the Ruhmann Law Firm are available 24 hours a day to provide compassionate and knowledgeable counsel through our emergency line for Wrongful Death family members. We are equipped and ready to handle any and all areas of a case upon your request.
We welcome your call today at (915) 845-4529 to arrange for a free initial consultation to discuss the untimely death of your loved one.