The parents of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, two of the Americans killed in the Benghazi attacks, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a report by the New York Times. In the suit (available here), the parents allege that Hillary Clinton negligently contributed to their sons’ deaths by using a private email server and purposefully passing along incorrect information. This case presents interesting legal questions what a plaintiff must prove in terms of jurisdiction, statute of limitations, and causation to win a wrongful death claim in a court of law.
Jurisdiction and Venue
Two of the initial steps in bringing a lawsuit are establishing jurisdiction and venue. It’s important to point out that most wrongful death lawsuits are filed in state court and are governed by state wrongful death statutes. These statutes and state civil procedure can differ dramatically between the states. However, the lawsuit filed against Hillary Clinton was filed in federal court. In order to have a case heard in federal court, the plaintiff must establish that a federal district court can exercise jurisdiction over the matter. [Read more…]