Wrongful Death

Fourteen-year-old Andrew Joseph III died after he was ejected from the Florida State Fair on Student Day in 2014 as he was trying to traverse Interstate 4 to return to the fairgrounds to get to his ride. But for 44-year-old Andrew Joseph Jr. and his wife, 45-year-old Deanna, the fight is just starting. They want action so that other children will be sure that they would be safe at the fair for years to come.

With this in mind, they staged a protest on Thursday, February 4 of the fair’s annual Student Day, noting that measures designed to keep students safe are not well-implemented, and they also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Florida State Fair Authority, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hillsborough County School District.

Schools allow students to attend the fair’s Student Day each year, freeing their schedules for the day by canceling classes. However, in 2014, violence ensued in the festivities, causing police officers to arrest 12 individuals and to eject 99 others from the fair, of who Andrew Joseph II was one of. Police deputies dropped him off at a location 2 miles from the fair; he was killed as he was apparently walking by the side of the highway.

The lawsuit that the Josephs filed against the defendants claimed that their son was falsely arrested and taken without probable cause. They also alleged that most of the students who were arrested were of African-American descent, saying, “Student Day has had a continuous history of civil rights abuses” and that it targets “African-American students and juveniles for arrest, ejection, and unjustified law enforcement intervention”.

The Josephs not only want to make the fair safer for future generations, they also want to see the people whose actions contributed to the death of their child held liable for their negligence.

The website of attorneys at Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller, & Overbeck, P.A. says that a wrongful death claim can be made if a plaintiff believes that there is a legal cause to sue a defendant for the death of a person. Plaintiffs should be people who will be negatively affected by the demise of the person because they are directly related to them; for instance they are immediate family members such as spouses, children, parents of unmarried children, life partners, financial dependents, or putative spouses (similar to common-law spouses).

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