Family Of Woman Beheaded By Gate At State Park Will Be Paid Just 4% Of What They Asked
In an era filled beyond the brim with scary stories, this still was one of the most terrifying. And now there’s finally some resolution, at least legally…
For those who never heard the shocking story of Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo‘s seemingly impossible death, here goes… The 25-year-old Ugandan women’s rights activist was visiting Utah’s Arches State Park with her husband Ludovic Michaud in June 2020. They were apparently going for ice cream when a strong wind blew an unsecured park entrance gate into the car. The metal gate came slicing through the vehicle. As put in the wrongful death lawsuit Michaud filed, “the end of the lance-like gate pierced the side of their car and penetrated it like a hot knife through butter.” It flew right into Essie’s side. She was decapitated instantly. The gate nearly hit Ludovic, too — instead he was covered in his wife’s blood.
The widower argued in his lawsuit that the US National Park Service was negligent about the gate’s upkeep — and that a cheap padlock could have ensured the gate wouldn’t move around, even in the wind. The one-in-a-million accident could have been prevented for a few bucks. Esther’s husband and family also argued that the government should try to make good on all the charity fundraising she would have done. At 17 years old she had already founded a nonprofit to support women’s health. Over the next few years she continued to focus on charity, even creating two reality shows to empower women (one of which was reportedly very popular in Uganda). She was just getting started. The complaint reasoned:
“For want of an $8.00 basic padlock, our world lost an extraordinary warrior for good; a young woman influencer who was destined to become our society’s future Princess Diana, Philanthropist Melinda Gates or Oprah Winfrey.”
Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But the fact remained, Essie was clearly devoted to making the world a better place — and she was taken early by this completely preventable accident. They demanded a whopping $270 million. The government admitted fault and apologized — but tried to argue the sum down to $3.5 million.
The trial, which took place in December of last year, lasted only a week. Last weekend the decision on how much to award finally came…
US District Judge Bruce Jenkins awarded the family $10.5 million. Hardly splitting the difference with the government, was it? While he agreed the accident was “gruesome and overwhelmingly shocking” he also noted that neither of the victims were US citizens — Ludovic is French. Not sure why that makes a difference, but OK. In the end the widower will get $9.5 mil, Essie’s parents will get the other million.
Even though it’s nowhere close to what they asked for, the family seems content with having won. Nakajjigo family attorney Randi McGinn said:
“By his verdict, Judge Bruce Jenkins has shown the world how the American justice system works to hold its own government accountable and greatly values all lives, including that of Esther Nakajjigo, a remarkable young woman from Uganda.”
And Ludovic released a statement this week saying:
“This decision serves as a reminder of the importance of proper maintenance and safety measures in our national parks, so as to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
He added sentimentally:
“The trial gave me and Essie’s family members an opportunity to tell Essie’s beautiful story, and it was so important to me to have the chance to stand up and speak for this amazing woman. The trial and this verdict have helped me significantly in the healing process and in my journey to find peace.”
We will never know exactly what the world lost when this young woman was killed in such a gory fashion. But at least her family weren’t completely denied.
What do YOU think of this verdict??
Source: Read Full Article