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Celebrity’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed against Former Florida Deputy Garners News Headlines


September’s headlines here in Florida were dominated by news of one celebrity (Tyler Perry) filing a wrongful death lawsuit that accuses former Collier County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Calkins of being potentially responsible for the lives of two men who disappeared 15 years ago. According to reports, Calkins arrested the two men separately in 2003 and 2004, supposedly after they were pulled over for driving without a license and/or for other, unknown reasons, and after they were taken into custody, they were reportedly never seen again.

Perry reportedly got involved with the cases in 2013, when he offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the locations of the two men who went missing. He has now doubled that award to $200,000 and helped the families of the two men file this lawsuit.

What Florida Law Dictates & What This Case Can Now Accomplish

Florida law states that a person is presumed to be dead if they have not been home for at least five years. It also states that when someone’s death is caused by a breach of contract, default, negligence, or wrongful act, and the person could have brought an action to recover damages due to that act, had they lived, the person who would have been liable in those circumstances shall still be liable for damages.

According to sources, Calkins was eventually fired for providing conflicting statements and being uncooperative during questioning, although he was never officially charged. However, as a result of this case being filed, he will now be subpoenaed and required to provide details about his encounters with the two men, as well as any other relevant details concerning the circumstances of their disappearances.

The personal representative(s) of the deceased’s estate can seek justice via the wrongful death claim (as has been filed here) on behalf of the estate and the surviving family members, including their spouse(s), children, parents, and any other blood relative who is dependent on the decedent in part or whole. It is important to note that, in Florida—as in other states—there is a statute of limitations when it comes to filing wrongful death lawsuits. It dictates that they must be brought within two years of the date of death. However, the deadline may be tolled under some circumstances—for example, in this case, where the two men disappeared and thus the date of death is still unknown.

Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys

If anyone—including a police officer, sheriff, or other trusted law enforcement representative—acts negligently and this results in the death of a loved one, you should speak with a wrongful death attorney right away to find out what remedies you might have. In some circumstances, taking action like this can prevent additional tragedies for other families. Contact our Florida wrongful death attorneys at the office of Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out more.


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