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The family of Audrie Pott -- who committed suicide after she was reportedly sexually assaulted and a photo of the act was shared with classmates via text messages -- is planning to file a civil action against the three boys arrested.
The three teenagers are now expected to face a wrongful death suit on top of the criminal charges.
In a wrongful death suit, immediate family members can get financial compensation when a person is killed due to someone's negligence or misconduct. It's meant to help the grieving family deal with the current and future expenses of loss.
Bob Allard, the attorney for the Pott family, said the family decided to file the wrongful death lawsuit after reading statements made by the defendants' lawyers, which took aim at "the attempt to link [Pott's] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys," CBS News reports.
The "link" the attorneys are referring to is a key element to a wrongful death suit. The defense is contesting the causation element. In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the Potts must prove that Audrie's death was caused by the boys' negligence, or with the intent to cause Audrie harm.
The boys' attorneys are arguing that the three teenagers can't be held responsible for her death because their actions did not directly cause Audrie Pott to commit suicide, CBS News reports.
The suit will also name the parents who owned the house where the unsupervised party with alcohol took place, which will also raise causation questions.
Along with damages for wrongful death, the Pott family might try to recover damages for personal injury to Audrie. In these "survival actions," the jury can take many circumstances into account to figure out the amount of damages. Factors include:
Here, the Potts can use some compelling Facebook messages posted by Audrie before she hanged herself: "My life is ruined...I am in hell...The whole school knows...My life is over..."
Audrie's parents told the media "there is absolutely no doubt as to the reason she took her life," CBS News reports. They are asking for help from her classmates to make sure they can prove their case and send a strong message about sexual assault and cyberbullying.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.