A case in the news recently was particularly interesting because of the question raised about whether the wrongful death defendants owed a duty to the decedent.
In an article, Lawsuit to Allege LaBella Failed to Address Investigator's Violent Tendencies reported in Utica, NY, involved the murder-suicide of Joseph and Kristin Longo, a married couple who were divorcing. The husband was a Police Inspector for the City of Utica, who had been acting strangely and verbally aggressive. He was ordered by the police department that employed him to stay away from his wife. After he threatened to commit suicide with his service revolver, it was confiscated, and his work assignment was changed, so that he had only desk duty. He was offered counseling to help him cope with stress.
After he murdered his wife and committed suicide, a suit was brought
on behalf of the couple's four children, ages 9, 11, 15 and 17, against the City of Utica.
The claim is that the city, and its Police Department, failed to protect the wife/mother from her police officer/husband who was essentially out of control. It is interesting to note that part of the rationale for this claim is that the current Chief of Police was a partner and friend of Inv. Longo. Because of the personal relationship, between the two policemen, Chief Daniel LaBella had not acted properly as a disinterested, neutral, party and taken further steps to protect Inv. Longo's wife. Chief LaBella refuted this and called the crime "unpreventable".
Do the facts above present a sufficient connection for one to say that there was a "duty owed" by the City of Utica Police to Mrs. Longo?
Was there a breach of a duty owed to her, which caused or contributed to her death?
How would you find if you served as a juror in this matter?