Maggiano Helps New Jersey Family Find Justice in Unprecedented NC Decision

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Attorney Michael Maggiano won a landmark decision for the grieving New Jersey family whose loved one had been misidentified by the N.C. Medical Examiner and swapped with the body of another. Close to $400,000 was awarded to three family members of the deceased, Lorraine Young.

Michael Maggiano, senior partner at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, along with co-counsel Charles Rabon representing the family members of Lorraine Young, won a decision that was the first of it's kind in North Carolina. The N.C. Industrial Commission found the State of North Carolina liable for the actions of the local medical examiner whose errors lead to the swapping of corpses.

In Decision Order TA21641, North Carolina Deputy Commissioner Stephen T. Gheen ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to pay three family members of the New Jersey woman a collective sum of $397,500.00 for the mental and emotional distress caused by the errors of state employee.

Although North Carolina statutes provide overarching protections to state workers who make errors during the course of fulfilling their duties, Gheen stated that the medical examiner's conduct throughout the events leading to the lawsuit constituted a "breach of his duty of care". In his 66 page ruling, the Deputy Commissioner wrote the medical examiner "failed to conduct any meaningful independent examination of the bodies presented to him... Instead, the direct and circumstantial evidence establishes that (the medical examiner) abdicated his responsibility to identify the bodies, relying solely on the identifications made at the accident scene without understanding what impediments to identification; both natural and human, may have influenced the identification process."

Up until this decision, no plaintiff had been able to prove that the State of North Carolina had a responsibility to individual families for the negligent acts of it's employees, in this case the local medical examiner. Michael Maggiano, with his co-counsel, presented a case that not only established that the medical examiner had failed to exercise his duty of care, but that the negligent breach of this duty was directly related to the documented suffering of Lorraine Young's family members.

The State of North Carolina could appeal this decision. However if upheld, this ruling could pave the way for other families to hold the State responsible for negligent acts and errors made by other state workers during death investigations.

About Michael Maggiano:
Michael Maggiano is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and the Natonal Board of Trial Lawyer Certifications. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the 2004 recipient of the Trial Lawyers of New Jersey Trial Bar Award, a Past President of the New Jersey Association for Justice and has been awarded the 2014 NJAJ Gold Medal of Honor. He is senior partner of the New Jersey law firm of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. which takes on all types of serious & complicated accident and injury claims.

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Michael J. Maggiano
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