Georgia was struck by tragedy when a student at Lowndes High School was found dead in January of 2013. Kendrick Johnson, 17 at the time, was found dead in the school’s gymnasium, wrapped up in gym mats too tightly for him to breathe. While a state autopsy made the determination that the death was accidental, Johnson’s parents, and much of the public was not convinced.
Johnson was an athlete at the school While there were suspicious circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death, the Department of Justice declined to files charges against the Bell family, whom Johnson’s family believed played a role in their son’s death. When the criminal justice system failed to deliver on a more intensive investigation, the
Kendrick Johnson’s Case
Kendrick’s family, in response to a lack of action from the Department of Justice, requested an independent autopsy be conducted on their son. The physician that conducted this examination made the determination that Kendrick’s death may not have been an accident as initially ruled. The family filed a $100 million lawsuit against multiple individuals and entities they believed contributed to Kendrick’s death. The initial lawsuit alleged that Kendrick was lured into the gym, where he was ambushed and assaulted by other classmates, including the Bell family’s two sons named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit also suggested criminal activity and interference on part of several city officials. The Johnson family initially thought they could achieve justice for their lost son in 2016 when criminal charges were under discussion, but they were ultimately dismissed. They began preparing for a civil motion again, however, CNN reports that a federal judge has since struck down their lawsuit.
The lawsuit was recently struck down as a result of a failure on part of the Johnson family to serve their lawsuit in a timely fashion to the defendants. In August of 2016, the Johnson family and their attorney were mandated by a Georgia judge to pay for the legal fees of the city officials named in the lawsuit. Unfortunately, this may mean that the Johnson family will remain unable to get justice for their son. Even if the case did not hold in court, the Johnson family is unable to see it through due to reasons that were not necessarily related to the events that cost them their son.
This may have been prevented through more careful means of notifying the defendants. The law is full of many different pitfalls, especially when a case is in its initial stages. The defendants, in this case, took advantage of this and were able to convince the judge to grant a dismissal. When considering the act of filing a lawsuit, a person should always consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help ensure that a case is filed correctly and in a timely manner, prior to the statute of limitations running out.