Nick Gordon, the boyfriend of late pop star Bobbi Kristina Brown, has been ordered to pay $36.25 million to Brown’s estate after a Georgia state judge determined that Gordon was legally responsible for Brown’s 2015 death. Based on evidence presented to the Georgia court, Gordon was allegedly responsible for Brown’s death due to the fact that he “gave Bobbi Kristina a toxic cocktail rendering her unconscious and then put her face down in a tub of cold water.” This alleged event occurred in January 2015, and Brown slipped into a coma and died in July 2015. Her estate, which brought the suit against Gordon, alleged that Gordon has acted as he did to control Brown, who was the daughter of deceased singing legend Whitney Houston and pop star Bobby Brown and sole beneficiary of Houston’s estate.
No Criminal Charges Filed Against Gordon
Georgia authorities did not bring criminal charges against Gordon for Brown’s death. Although a wrongful death claim can be based on the same facts as a criminal investigation or charge, the fact that no criminal charges are brought does not affect the ability of a civil court to award damages when it determines that a person wrongfully caused the death of another. A person who negligently causes the death of another can be civilly liable even if that person is not criminally liable. Also, the burden of proof that must be shown in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, with only a preponderance of the evidence showing needed as opposed to a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, so civil lawyers may act when criminal prosecutors do not necessarily have the evidence to make a criminal case or when prosecutors simply decide not to pursue charges.
Why the Estate Was Given the Award
In a wrongful death claim, it is often the surviving members of a victim’s family who bring the claim in order to recover the losses they have suffered due to the victim’s death. Who may bring a wrongful death claim is based on state law, but usually it is the surviving spouse, children, and/or parents of a victim that may bring a claim, and, if none of those parties exist or are willing to bring a claim, then the estate itself can bring a claim. Because Brown had no spouse or surviving children (and her custodial parent Whitney Houston had died in 2012), it is not surprising her estate brought the claim.
How Wrongful Death Awards Are Determined
Wrongful death awards are based on a number of factors, including the amount of income that a person might have earned over their lifetime and the services and emotional benefits the person provided to family members. Brown was a singer, actress, and reality television star who was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s estate, thus her earning power was high, which was no doubt a factor in determining the $36.25 million award.
Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys on Your Family’s Side in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our personal injury / wrongful death team – led by by partner Cory Welk, a Marine Corp officer with over 20 years of service to his country and 15 years of experience litigating personal injury cases – has repeatedly won verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the Inland Empire in the millions of dollars. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your potential wrongful death claim.