A 2009 Thanksgiving celebration turned deadly has resulted in a Palm Beach County wrongful death lawsuit against the parents of the alleged shooter. The plaintiffs, Jim and Muriel Sitton and Antoine Joseph, are related to the Carole and Michael Merhige, who are the parents of Paul Merhige. The Sittons’ 6-year-old daughter Makayla Joy and Antoine’s wife Raymonde are among those that were fatally shot. Paul’s twin sisters, one of whom was pregnant at the time, were also shot dead.
The plaintiffs contend that the shootings could have been avoided. According to their Jupiter, Florida wrongful death lawsuit, Paul was invited by his parents to Thanksgiving dinner at the Sittons even though they knew that their son, who owned a gun, wasn’t taking his medication. The couple even slept at night with their door locked because Merhige lived with them and they were afraid of him.
The Sittons and Joseph claim that the Merhiges invited Paul to Thanksgiving even though they were afraid of what he might do. Their alleged fears were to the degree that Muriel Sitton may have even told one of her daughters that she hoped Paul wouldn’t “kill us all.”
The plaintiffs are accusing Paul’s dad Michael, who is an ex-CIA agent, of not even trying to stop his son and failing to call police even though he had a cell phone with him. Paul, who is in his mid-30’s, is awaiting his murder trial. He has pleaded not guilty to the killings.
Unfortunately, violent crimes happen every day. If you or someone you love was hurt in a shooting or because of another criminal act and this incident could have been prevented, those that could have stopped the crime but didn’t could be held liable for Palm Beach personal injury or wrongful death. Obviously, the specifics of what happened and what evidence exists can determine whether you have grounds for a civil case. For example, if a murder occurred on someone’s property and killing could have been prevented if only the premise owner had provided adequate security, then the victim’s loved ones may have a claim against the property owner, as well as the killer.
Suit filed in fatal Fla Thanksgiving rampage, AP, September 15, 2011
Lawsuit: Merhige’s parents did nothing to stop Thanksgiving slayings, Palm Beach Post, September 15, 2011
Thanksgiving Killings Suspect Nabbed at Fla. Hotel, ABC World News, January 3, 2010
More Blog Posts:
$525,000 Ft. Lauderdale Wrongful Death Settlement Reached Between Broward County School Board and Family of Teen Fatally Shot in 2008 by Fellow Student, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, September 9, 2011
Julie Schenecker’s Husband Sues Her For Their Children’s Florida Wrongful Deaths, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, May 13, 2011
Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Dad’s Fatal Shooting on Basketball Court, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, April 9, 2011