NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A major lawsuit was filed Thursday by the family of a carjacking suspect who was shot and killed by a Connecticut State Trooper in West Haven. News 8 spoke to a legal expert Thursday to answer two important questions about the case: How does one put a monetary price on a loved one and what legal factors are considered before a wrongful death lawsuit is filed?
The $10 million lawsuit names the State of Connecticut, State Police, West Haven Police and the City of West Haven.
Legal expert, Attorney Gregory Cerritelli told News 8 one of the factors that go into these lawsuits is life expectancy and earning potential.
“You look at the fact that this man is 19-years-old. He’s got a life expectancy of about 60 or 70 years and you look at what his earning potential might be over the course of his lifetime; then typically in cases like this also, because the police officer’s actions were intentional, often plaintiffs will ask for punitive damages.”– Legal Expert and Attorney Gregory Cerritelli
Cerritelli added those punitive damages could be substantial.
“Punitive damages are designed to punish wrongful conduct and also to deter other people from engaging in that conduct,” said Ceritelli.
The family of Mubarak Soulemane stood by their New York-based attorney Thursday in Bridgeport to announce the lawsuit. The family has been seeking justice since the fatal shooting of Soulemane by State Trooper Brian North on Jan. 15.
“That is the most important thing to them,” said Soulemane’s family’s attorney, Sanford Rubenstein Thursday, “to set an example for other officers all over this country.”
Something else to consider in this case is the taxpayer dollars.
“Whenever there is an officer-involved shooting, we’re dealing with taxpayer money, which because the town and the state have a policy of not only affording officer defense but also indemnifying them which means they will pay for any judgment,” explained Cerritelli.
Cerritelli adds, the defense is going to have to argue that, based on the facts and circumstances known to Trooper North at the time, that he acted reasonably.