When hearing about lawsuits regarding estates, most think about tussles between beneficiaries and heirs. However, estates can also get involved in litigation against negligent parties for wrongful death. Let’s explore how playboy model Katie May’s estate is suing her chiropractor for wrongful death. For our authority, we looked at wrongful death attorney websites in Los Angeles, where many accidental deaths occur.
Estate’s Lawyer Files Lawsuit Against Chiropractor for the Death of Playboy Model Katie May
On June 14, 2017, Playboy model Katie May’s estate’s lawyer, Ronald Richards, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her chiropractor, Dr. Eric Marc Swartz, and his chiropractic center alleging severe accusations, some of them including medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death.
Alex Maimon, Katie’s daughter’s father and Katie’s estate executor stated that a reasonable chiropractor would’ve never given May the aggressive treatment she received, resulting in her death. Due to this, they’re filing medical malpractice lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
May Suffers Fatal Stroke Following an Injury Sustained from Chiropractic Neck Manipulation Treatment
According to the wrongful death lawsuit filed in June 2017, Katie May suffered from a stiff neck after posing in “awkward” poses for a photoshoot.
To alleviate the pain she was experiencing, May visited Dr. Swartz at Back to Total Health for neck manipulation. Shortly after receiving treatment from the chiropractor, May experienced a stroke and died on February 4, 2016.
The Los Angeles County Coroner Confirms Blunt Force Injury Resulting in Restricted Blood Flow from Vertebral Artery Dissection
The lawsuit stated that the neck adjustment treatment before May died resulted in a neck injury.
The coroner’s report takes an unusual but definitive step by confirming damage to the left vertebral artery, which restricted the blood flow to the brain leading to the infarction of the brain.
May’s estate lawsuit mentioned that the chiropractor was negligent in diagnosing, caring for, and treating May’s stiff neck. It did not specify damages but noted that May’s 8-year-old daughter was traumatized by the ordeal.
The autopsy report also confirmed that May was complaining about feeling weak, dizzy, and having a constant headache. Due to her symptoms, she received treatment at Cedars Sinai Hospital but unfortunately suffered a stroke from her neck injury leading to her death.
Chiropractor’s Insurance Carrier Avoids Mediation
According to Richards, they approached the chiropractor’s legal representative about the issue and sent a demand letter in October 2016 to the defendant’s insurance company. However, the insurance company refused mediation.
Ronald Richards was hopeful of recovering a settlement for May’s daughter, Mia Eden May-Maimon, college fund so that she could move on from the traumatic event and live a better life.
Unfortunately, the insurance carrier decided to avoid the mediation forcing May’s estate lawsuit. The suit affected Dr. Swartz’s reputation since it’s now public and exposed him to further damage than the policy would’ve offered if they had settled in the first place.
Swartz May Have Known His Chiropractic Treatment Caused May’s Death
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Dr. Swartz was aware his treatment resulted in the blunt force injury (damage to the left vertebral artery), which led to May’s death as he wrote Katie’s patient report four days after her death.
Since he did not write the report immediately after treating Katie, Swartz’s actions raised suspicion that he may be responsible for his negligent care and treatment of Playboy Model Katie May.
Suit Ends in $250,000 Settlement
The case was first held at Los Angeles Superior Court before being transferred to Santa Monica Superior Court. However, on January 19, 2022, Richards filed court papers with Judge Elaine W. Mandel stating that both parties came to a settlement.
Both parties, the chiropractor defendant and Katie May’s estate, settled the lawsuit for $250,000 on behalf of Katie May’s eight-year-old daughter.
Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California: What You Need to Know
California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 allows surviving family members or their estate to sue negligent parties for the damages arising from their wrongful act.
California allows plaintiffs to seek the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Burial or funeral expenses
- Lost income the deceased could’ve earned
- Decedent’s pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and support
Unlike personal injury cases where courts can also award punitive damages, in California, these are not available for wrongful death suits. However, through a survival cause of action, they may be able to receive such damages.
Individuals filing wrongful death suits can also combine it with a survival cause of action, which allows the heirs to sue on behalf of the deceased’s estate. However, these are often complex.
Generally, the statute of limitations for wrongful death suits in California is two years following the death of a victim.
However, there are certain exceptions, such as medical malpractice, for which the statute of limitations is either:
- One year following the date of discovery, or
- Three years following the death of the victim, whichever comes first.
To bring a valid wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove:
- Breach of duty: The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
- Negligence: The defendant was negligent in his actions toward the victim
- Causation: The victim died due to the defendant’s negligent actions
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered quantifiable damages
In the case of Katie May and the chiropractor, the insurer eventually settled to avoid trialing the case. Defendants and their attorneys often settle the case before trial because they understand the risks of going to trial.
In most cases, if they believe the plaintiff has sufficient evidence against them, they would probably settle as a trial can expose them to more significant damages.
There are certain factors that insurance companies look at before settling, and one major factor is the attorney’s trial experience. The courtroom environment creates much pressure on both sides, and an experienced trial attorney remains unfazed in such situations.
Schedule a Free Consultation with A Top Law Firm
If you’re looking to file a wrongful death suit in California, your best bet is to obtain a free consultation with a reputable wrongful death lawyer. We have provided a link above to learn more about pursuing compensation and being made whole. We wish you luck searching for attorneys with extensive trial experience handling complex cases for over a decade. Godspeed in your quest to find a warrior to help you seek justice for your loss!