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A Sheriff's Office in Florida sued in pepper spray wrongful death

A woman has recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Florida county's Sheriff's Office after the death of her husband more than two years ago. She believes that members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office were negligent in using pepper spray that resulted in her husband's death.

The death of a loved one is difficult to grasp, especially when the death could have been prevented but for the negligence of another. Many times family members are left with unanswered questions surrounding the cause of death and whether anyone can be held responsible.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a way that a victim's family can hold the negligent party responsible. In addition to the monetary compensation that can be awarded to the family, this type of claim can help to ensure that the same accident does not occur in the future.

According to the article, the woman's husband had some mental health conditions that would cause his behavior to become erratic at times. He had been visiting a relative in Florida when his behavior began to change. Local Florida law enforcement was contacted and informed that the Florida Baker Act should dictate how officers handled the situation. Basically, under the Act the man could be held involuntarily so that a physical or health professional could examine his state.

The second time that the man was taken into custody, he was restrained. But even while restrained, police officers used pepper spray several times. Pepper spray is typically used to subdue individuals who are making it difficult for officers to hold. But if the man was restrained, was repeated use of pepper spray necessary?

That woman believes that police went too far. According to the medical examiner, the man died from a heart attack brought on by the restraint and use of pepper spray. Though the County Sheriff's Office has been cleared of any crime, the woman believes they should still be held liable for her husband's death.

Source: My Fox Tampa Bay: "Widow sues over pepper spray death," Doug Smith, Aug. 22, 2011.

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