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California Will Pay $24 Million Wrongful Death Settlement to Family of Man Who Died While in Custody of State Police

According to a report from NBC Los Angeles, the State of California has agreed to settle a wrongful death claim involving the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for $24 million. The case is related to the tragic death of a Burbank, CA man named Edward Bronstein, who passed away while in police custody in March of 2020. Here, our Stockton wrongful death lawyer explains what we know about this case, provides an overview of California’s wrongful laws, and discusses specialized factors that affect cases involving government entities as defendants. 

Wrongful Death Settlement: 38-Year-Old Man Who Died in Police Custody in 2020 

In May of 2023, the state of California agreed to a landmark $24 million civil rights settlement (wrongful death lawsuit) with the family of Edward Bronstein, a Burbank resident who tragically lost his life in the custody of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in March 2020. Bronstein’s apprehension during a traffic stop escalated to a fatal encounter, where he was restrained and repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.” 

Notably, charges have been brought against a CHP sergeant, six officers, and a registered nurse by District Attorney George Gascón’s office. Mr. Bronstein had initially resisted blood draw due to a fear of needles, but the video shows him later consenting while being held down. Despite CPR efforts, Bronstein never regained consciousness after his blood was drawn. Beyond the wrongful death settlement, the CHP extended condolences to Bronstein’s family and placed the accused officers on administrative leave. 

California’s Wrongful Death Laws Provide a Civil Legal Remedy for Grieving Families

Did you lose a loved one because of a negligent act in California? It is one of the most difficult experiences that any person can ever be forced to endure. Our state’s wrongful death laws allow grieving families to pursue justice through a civil legal claim. Here are four key points to know about the wrongful death claims process in California: 

  1. Eligibility to File a Claim: Not everyone who had a close relationship with the victim has the right to file a wrongful death claim. California’s wrongful death laws stipulate who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60, those who can file include the deceased’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or grandchildren if the deceased’s children are also deceased. Other potential claimants include anyone else who would be entitled to the deceased’s property by intestate succession, such as parents or siblings. If you have specific questions about who should file the claim, an experienced Stockton, CA wrongful death lawsuit attorney can help. 
  2. Standard of Liability: The standard of liability in wrongful death cases in California is generally based on negligence. Though, a strict liability standard may apply in a defect product case. Negligence occurs when a party fails to exercise a reasonable standard of care, leading to the death of another person. The claimant must prove that the defendant had a duty of care towards the deceased, breached that duty, and that this breach directly resulted in the death and the damages sought. Wrongful death claims may be initiated in a wide range of different circumstances, including for medical malpractice, vehicle accidents, or defective products.
  3. Statute of Limitations: In California, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is typically two years from the date of the individual’s death, according to California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1. Though, some exceptions may apply. The deadlines are strictly enforced—means missing the filing deadline could result in you losing the right to file a claim. Do not wait to take action: Consult with a Stockton, CA wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s fatal accident. 
  4. Damages Available: In wrongful death claims in California, claimants may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include quantifiable losses such as medical expenses incurred before death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of the deceased’s expected income, and the value of household services the deceased would have provided. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are for losses that are more difficult to measure, such as loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, and moral support. An experienced Stockton wrongful death lawyer can help you take action to maximize your financial recovery. 

Specialized Procedural Requirements When a Government Entity is a Defendant

Most wrongful death claims are filed against civil defendants, such as a business, a property owner, or a trucking company. However, some cases involve wrongful conduct by government entities or government employees, such as the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In California, there are specialized procedural requirements in place when a government entity is a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. Here are some key differences to be aware of: 

  • Notice of a Claim (Claim Presentation): Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the government, a formal claim must be presented to the entity. Among other things, the filing should include detailed information such as the date, place, and circumstances of the incident, a description of the injury, damage, or loss incurred, and the amount claimed.
  • Strict Time Limit for Initiating Claim: While the statute of limitations is technically the same, there is a strict deadline to file a notice of a claim. As a general rule, the wrongful death claim against a government agency must be initiated—via notice of the claimȔwithin six months. A proactive approach is key in these cases. 

Contact Our Stockton Wrongful Death Attorney Today

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton wrongful death lawyers provide the compassionate, reliable legal representation that grieving families can rely on during the most challenging of times. Give us a phone call now or contact us online to set up your free, completely confidential initial appointment. From our Stockton law office, we represent families in wrongful death cases in San Joaquin County and throughout the surrounding region in Central California.