Jehovah's Witnesses sued for wrongful death after elderly woman falls at district convention

By Michelle Keahey | Jul 27, 2012


NEW ORLEANS - The family of a deceased elderly woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the national organization of Jehovah's Witnesses claiming it was negligent in seating her in the upstairs seating portion at a district convention.

Rachel Maddox and Shannon Maddox filed suit against Integro USA Inc. d/b/a Integro Insurance Brokers, Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc., Westwego Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses Inc., Patrick Victor and Kathy Victor on May 25 in Jefferson Parish District Court. The defendants removed the case to federal court in New Orleans on June 25.

According to the lawsuit, Patsy Maddox attended a District Convention sponsored by the defendants at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Alabama on July 1, 2011. She was directed away from her requested seat in the disabled seating section and was forced to it in a different location, up steep stairs and without railing. When she attempted to leave the program, she fell and suffered multiple injuries. Maddox died from her injuries approximately six weeks later.

The family states that the defendants were aware of Maddox's health limitations, her age, and that she could not walk very well.

The defendant is accused of gross negligence in enticing, inducing, soliciting, and/or specifically inviting Patsy Maddox to attend the District Convention with assurances of safety, and for knowingly directing Maddox to climb stairs to open seating in elevated portions of the Mitchell Center.

Maddox's family is asking the court for an award of wrongful death and survival damages for loss of earnings, earning capacity, wages, mental, physical pain and suffering, medical expenses, attorney's fees, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life, losses of services, society, love and affection, court costs, and attorney's fees.

The plaintiffs are represented by Tom W. Thornhill of Thornhill Law Firm in Slidell. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-01641

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