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KNOCKETT, deceased, Plaintiff, v. THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH, A municipal corporation, Serve: Mark D. Stiles, Esquire, City Attorney City of Virginia Beach City Attorney¶s Office Municipal Center, Bldg 1 Virginia Beach, VA 23456 AND HEATHER M. BOYD, as an employee of the City of Virginia Beach, and individually, Serve: Mark D. Stiles, Esquire, City Attorney City of Virginia Beach City Attorney¶s Office Municipal Center, Bldg 1 Virginia Beach, VA 23456 AND JOHN DOE #1, as an employee of the City of Virginia Beach, and individually, AND JOHN DOE #2, as an employee of the City of Virginia Beach, and individually, Defendants. Case No.:
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COMPLAINT Plaintiff, INENA TATEM, as Administrator of the Estate of MICHEAL MARMON KNOCKETT, deceased, moves for judgment against the defendants, CITY OF VRIGINIA BEACH (³VIRGINIA BEACH´), HEATHER M. BOYD (³BOYD´), JOHN DOE #1 (³DOE #1´), JOHN DOE #2 (³DOE #2´), pursuant to Sections 8.01-50 and 64.1-75 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, both jointly and severally, on the grounds and in the amount set forth as follows: 1. Plaintiff qualified and was duly appointed administrator of the estate of Michael Marmon Knockett, deceased, by the Circuit Court Clerk of the City of Virginia Beach on the 29th day of July 2010. 2. Plaintiff duly filed and served Notice of Claim pursuant to Virginia Code Section 15.2-209, 1950, as amended, upon VIRGINIA BEACH on August 13, 2010, as required by statute. 3. VIRGINIA BEACH is a municipal corporation, who is responsible for the operation and management of the Department of Public Works, to include the hiring, supervision, and training of its personnel, and the establishment of the policies and procedures under which the personnel perform their functions. VIRGINIA BEACH is vicariously liable for the conduct of its personnel while acting in the scope of their employment.
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4. BOYD was a Virginia Beach Public Works employee, employed by VIRGINIA BEACH and acting in the scope of her employment at all times during the events described in this Complaint. 5. DOE #1 was a Virginia Beach Public Works employee, employed by VIRGINIA BEACH and acting in the scope of his employment at all times during the events described in this Complaint. 6. DOE #2 was a Virginia Beach Public Works employee, employed by VIRGINIA BEACH and acting in the scope of his employment at all times during the events described in this Complaint. 7. Venue is proper pursuant to 8.01-262(4), 1950, as amended, where the cause of action arose. 8. Defendants VIRGINIA BEACH, BOYD, DOE #1, and DOE #2 had a duty, at the time of this incident complained of, to use reasonable care to conduct the operation of beach waste disposal according to the laws of the City of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth of Virginia within the policies and procedures established by the City of Virginia Beach. 9. Defendant VIRGINIA BEACH had a duty, prior to and at the time of the incident complained of, to use reasonable care to properly hire, maintain and review, and to terminate employees of VIRGINIA BEACH according to the laws of the City of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth of Virginia within the policies and procedures established by the City of Virginia Beach.
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MATERIAL FACTS 10. Notwithstanding the above said duties, on June 28, 2010, shortly after 8:00 a.m. in the morning, the plaintiffs¶ decedent, Michael Marmon Knockett (³KNOCKETT´), was peaceably enjoying himself, sitting upright in a lounge chair in open, plain, and obvious view on the oceanfront beach area near 25th Street in the City of Virginia Beach, with his body covered by a bright blue blanket and his head covered by a bright off-white fisherman¶s hat. 11. At that same time, BOYD, the driver of the vehicle, along with her two assistants, DOE #1 and DOE #2 were operating a nine (9) ton trash disposal vehicle on the oceanfront beach area emptying trash cans and removing debris along the oceanfront. 12. At that same time, BOYD, DOE #1, and DOE #2 failed to properly operate their vehicle and observe KNOCKETT on the beach area and drove over his body, crushing his head and torso area, causing him to sustain lethal injuries resulting in his death. GENERAL ALLEGATIONS
13. All of the defendants, BOYD, DOE #1, DOE #2, and vicariously, VIRGINIA BEACH, by their conduct aforementioned, acted with that degree of negligence which shows such indifference to others as constitutes an utter
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disregard of prudence amounting to a complete neglect of the safety of KNOCKETT, and were grossly negligent in that they: a. Failed to operate their vehicle within a reasonable and safe speed and in a reasonable and safe manner under the circumstances on the beach knowing that KNOCKETT and other persons occupying the beach would be present; b. Failed to maintain a proper lookout for KNOCKETT and other individuals occupying the beach area which was plainly clear and unobstructed; c. Failed to apply their brakes in time to avoid striking KNOCKETT and violently killing him; d. Failed to give full time and attention to the operation of their nine (9) ton vehicle on the oceanfront beach area knowing that KNOCKETT and other persons occupying the beach would be present; e. Failed to conduct the removal of trash along the oceanfront beach area in a reasonable and safe manner, and in accordance with the policies and procedures established by VIRGINIA BEACH; f. Failed to set up traffic control devices as required according to the then current VIRGINIA BEACH guidelines; g. Failed to situate flaggers as needed as required by the policies and procedures established by VIRGINIA BEACH;
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h. Failed to keep their vehicle under proper control at all times while operating the same on the beach oceanfront under the circumstances knowing that KNOCKETT and other persons occupying the beach would be present on the beach; i. Operated their vehicle in a reckless manner. 14. In addition to breaching its other duties as an employer as alleged above, VIRGINIA BEACH was grossly negligent in that it: a. Hired defendant BOYD to operate the large vehicle when they knew, or should have known that she had prior driving infractions that would make it reasonable to believe she would operate this vehicle in a negligent manner; b. Failed to take reasonable action to prevent its employee, defendant BOYD, from operating her vehicle in a negligent manner; c. Knew or, with reasonable diligence, should have known, that its employee, defendant BOYD, often obtained only a few hours of rest over a period of days, texted on her cell phone excessively while at work, and received numerous additional driving violations while employed by VIRGINIA BEACH and regularly operated its vehicles after having done so, and failed to terminate BOYD or take any corrective action to prevent such activities from reoccurring.
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15. As a direct and proximate cause of the defendants¶ gross negligence as aforesaid, KNOCKETT suffered violent and fatal injuries which caused his death on June 28, 2010. 16. Plaintiff¶s decedent, Michael Marmon Knockett, at the time of his death, was 52 years old, and was in good health. 17. Plaintiff¶s decedent died intestate survived by the following statutory beneficiaries: 1. Michael Madison, son, 21+ years old 2. Rico Tatem, son, 21+ years old 3. Inena Tatem, daughter, 21+ years old 4. Marco Madison, son, 21+ years old 18. Under Section 8.01-53 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, the above listed beneficiaries, as Michael Marmon Knocketts¶ surviving children, are the sole beneficiaries entitled to receive any damages awarded in this suit as compensation for their losses set forth below. Michael Marmon Knockett was unmarried on the date of his death. 19. The above listed beneficiaries have lost their natural father and therefore have suffered substantial damage and losses, both pecuniary and otherwise, including but not limited to the following: a. Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace, including loss of society, companionship, comfort , guidance, kindly offices and advice of their natural father;
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b. Loss of expected income of their father; and c. Loss of the services, protection, care and assistance provided by their father. 20. In addition to the foregoing, plaintiff is entitled to an award of punitive damages from defendants as a result of their conduct which demonstrated such recklessness as evidences a conscious disregard for the safety of others. 21. In accord with the foregoing, plaintiff in behalf of the estate of Michael Marmon Knockett and in behalf of his statutory beneficiaries claim damages against defendants as follows:
(a) Compensatory Damages i. funeral expenses ii. for sorrow, mental anguish, and solace, including loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and $ 16,460.00
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advice of their father, suffered by the children beneficiaries iii. expected loss of earnings of their father and loss of his services, protection, care and assistance (b) Punitive Damages Total damages $ 1,000,000.00 $ 1,000,000.00
WHEREFORE, plaintiff demands judgment against defendants jointly and severally, in the amount of Twenty-five Million Sixteen Thousand Four Hundred Sixty Dollars ($ 25,016,460.00) and the plaintiffs¶ costs expended in this action. Trial by jury is demanded. IENEA TATEM, as Administrator of the estate of Michael Marmon Knockett, deceased By______________________ Of Counsel
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Carl C. La Mondue, Esquire (VSB# 36921) LA MONDUE LAW FIRM, PLC 500 East Plume Street, Suite 400 Norfolk, Virginia 23510 Office: 757.623.3300 Facsimile: 757.623.1277 Email: email@example.com
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