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Simmons Hanly Conroy fights for individuals and families who have been seriously injured or died as the result of negligence. Contact Simmons Hanly Conroy to speak with an experienced attorney who specializes in catastrophic and serious injuries and wrongful death cases. These personal injury attorneys, led by partners John Simmons, Ted Gianaris and G. Michael Stewart, will evaluate your case, answer your questions, and help you to better understand your legal rights and options.
A wrongful death lawsuit pertaining to the death of 42-year-old Anthony “Todd” Burkey of Granite City, Illinois ended in a confidential settlement, just as the trial was set to begin. Mr. Burkey died of suffocation as three hospital security guards pinned him to the ground in the hospital’s emergency department. G. Michael Stewart, partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy, represented the Burkey family in a suit against Gateway Regional Medical Center and the three security guards involved in the incident: Charles Knapp, Dylan Ritchie, and Shane Biggs.
Anthony “Todd” Burkey was physically disabled from a previous work-related injury and had been admitted to Gateway Regional on Dec. 2, 2011, for undiagnosed medical and mental health disorders. Hospital staff requested that security guards transfer Mr. Burkey to an inpatient room. The three men assigned to the transfer pinned Burkey to the ground and remained on top of him for approximately four minutes. During this time, Todd Burkey suffocated.
In addition to the civil case brought by Simmons Hanly Conroy, two of the security guards, Charles Knapp and Dylan Ritchie, were also indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter.
Partner G. Michael Stewart represented the Burkey family, including Todd’s wife, Crystal Burkey, and his teenage son. The wrongful death complaint filed on behalf of the Burkey family alleged that the guards threw Todd Burkey to the floor without justification or provocation. The complaint also alleged that the attack was motivated, at least in part, by the guards’ prejudice against a person with a mental disability. Lastly, the complaint alleged that the guards failed to report Burkey’s condition to their supervisors in a timely manner, which would have allowed for medical treatment to be provided. A hospital surveillance tape showed the guards laughing and talking in the room for several minutes before they realized that Mr. Burkey had died.
“The settlement is a fair result,” Attorney Stewart stated. “However, no amount of money can ever compensate for the loss of a father or husband, but the family is thankful that those responsible have been held accountable.”
Mr. Burkey was a young man who died too soon. Before a work injury had left him physically disabled, Todd Burkey was a hardworking man and member of the Labor Local No. 338. He enjoyed playing the guitar and working on cars, and he loved dogs, according to his obituary. His wife, Crystal Burkey, lost his society, love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and financial support. Mr. Burkey’s teenage son lost his father.
This wrongful death case is just one important example of Mr. Stewart’s work representing individuals and families who have been wrongfully injured. Mr. Stewart focuses his legal practice on wrongful death and personal injury cases, including product liability, railroad injury, Federal Employers’ Liability Act claims and catastrophic injury cases.
International law clearly holds that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when someone is under imminent threat of grievous injury or death. Nevertheless, federal and state laws do not compel law enforcement to follow similar limits on lethal force. This leaves American citizens vulnerable to overzealous police action and, as happened to Todd Burkey, a wrongful and untimely death. Wrongful death and injury litigation is a potent mechanism to combat this growing problem. The Burkey settlement, as well as the hundreds of cases like it, clearly shows those individuals who would inappropriately wield power that there are consequences to these actions.