Case Studies: Lemay

Lemay Case Report

TYPE OF ACTION: 5 year old girl drowned at Falls Lake swim beach while in care of church day camp employees on July 5, 1991.
TYPE OF INJURIES: Death. Mother suffered severe emotional distress.
COURT/CASE NUMBER: Durham County Superior Court - 91 CVS 4630
JUDGE OR JURY: Judge approved settlement.
NAME OF JUDGE: Robert L. Farmer.
SPECIAL DAMAGES: Duke Life Flight Helicopter and Emergency Care Services; Funeral Expenses; Psychiatric Fees for parent (mother).
DAMAGES AWARDED/SETTLED: Settled the day before the trial was scheduled to begin
ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF: G. Jona Poe, Jr., Durham, North Carolina.
ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT: Grady S. Patterson (Patterson, Dilthey, Clay & Bryson of Raleigh, North Carolina).
NAME OF CASE: Linda Jean LeMay, Administratrix of the Estate of Lynesha Jenel LeMay and Linda Jean LeMay, Individually vs. Living Waters Christian Community Church (formerly known as Living Waters Pentecostal Holiness Church).
INSURANCE CARRIER: Church Mutual Insurance Company
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION: Plaintiff's intestate was a five year old black female and the only child of a single mother. The child's father was known but had never legally acknowledged his daughter. The deceased was attending a summer day camp run by a well-known large local church. The day camp employees took 29 children, ages 5-12 to the swim beach at Rolling View State Park, arriving about 1:30 p.m. on July 5, 1991. At approximately 3:30 p.m. a head count on the Church bus as they were preparing to leave revealed that the deceased was missing. She was later found dead in approximately three feet of water. The lawsuit sought damages for wrongful death, punitive damages and severe emotional distress on the part of the mother. Plaintiff's concerns included: Disparity among the economist's testimony; the familiar relationship; a Church as Defendant; Ruark Issues and Liability Standards. A number of witnesses were eventually located who were present at the beach on the day of the drowning, including another church day camp director, to testify as to the lack of care on the part of defendant's employees in watching the children in the water. An expert in aquatic environments and emergency care was located at the National Red Cross Center in Washington D. C. to give testimony concerning the gross negligence of defendant's employees. Photographs, video and numerous witnesses were available to testify as to the closeness of the mother daughter relationship, as well as the emotional trauma experienced by the mother, who saw her daughter at the Duke Emergency Room immediately after the drowning. The testimony from the State Medical Examiner was essential in showing the length of time that the child was missing prior to discovery.