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Florida man files wrongful death lawsuit against estranged wife

The story became national news: a military officer who was in the Middle East at the time was informed that his wife had killed their two children and attempted suicide in their Florida home. She had previously been diagnosed with manic depression but had recently been doing well.

The woman has been in prison and when the father returned, he filed for divorce. But he has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his estranged wife, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress. Wrongful death claims are typically filed after a fatal accident, usually caused by the negligence of another. So why did the officer choose a civil lawsuit?

The decision came after his estranged wife filed a counter divorce suit, rejecting his initial settlement offer. She wanted half of their multi-million dollar marital estate, also requesting alimony, insurance money, and even money for attorneys' fees.

Some may think that the wrongful death lawsuit is an attempt by the father to prevent his estranged wife from getting any money. Instead, he plans to use the money to keep the memory of his children alive. He has created a foundation in honor of his son and daughter and wants to use the marital assets to establish a nonprofit as well.

The decision to file a civil suit against his estranged wife was not an easy one. The father had planned on quietly divorcing her and then trying to move forward with his life. But his plan seemed impossible when she voiced her demands in the divorce. The wrongful death suit allows him to seek financial recovery for the lives of his two children, money that he can use to establish the fund in memory of his children.

Source: Tampa Bay online, "Schenecker father sues wife suspected of murdering their children," John Barry, 09 May 2011

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