The facts of the Sean Bell wrongful death case are especially compelling. An unarmed Mr. Bell was gunned down on a street in Queens by police officers who unleashed a 50-shot barrage, on the day, in 2006, that Mr. Bell was to be married to Nicole Paultre. The case was settled at a pre-trial conference in late July.
A prior blog entry asked the question of how a fiancé, under NY law, could bring a wrongful death suit? The answer was revealed: although unmarried, the couple had produced a child, and the mother was appearing "in loco parentis" for the child.
Actually, Mr. Bell and his fiancé had two children together without benefit of marriage, and the kids will share the $3.25 million settlement, after the one-third contingency fee paid to their attorneys, when they turn 18 years of age. Ms. Paultre-Bell will receive nothing from the settlement under NY law, as unmarried, she had no legal expectation to the support of Mr. Bell. Her solace may be that she will not have to set aside college monies for the children.