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Gooch v. O'Gorman

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

October 21, 2019

BEVERLY M. GOOCH, Plaintiff,
v.
HAYDEN A. O'GORMAN, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          LAJUANA M. COUNTS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.095, Plaintiff Beverly M. Gooch and Defendant Hayden A. O'Gorman have asked for approval of their settlement agreement in this wrongful death suit. (Doc. #31.) This matter was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for processing in accord with the Magistrate Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636, and Local Rule 72.1. (Doc. #32.)

         Plaintiff Beverly M. Gooch, the natural mother of Patricia M. Coffey (Decedent), brings this matter pursuant to Missouri's wrongful death statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.080, alleging negligence and negligence per se. (Doc. #1-2 at 1, 4.) The suit arises out of a fatal car crash in Platte County, Missouri, on December 13, 2016. (Doc. #1-2 at 1-2.) Defendant Hayden A. O'Gorman filed a counterclaim against the defendant ad litem in the capacity of legal representative of Patricia M. Coffey, alleging negligence. (Doc. #1-3 at 14-17.) Defendant O'Gorman subsequently filed a Stipulation of Dismissal of Counterclaim with Prejudice. (Doc. #34.) The stipulation complies with Rule 41 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

         Plaintiff, along with Ashlynd Coffey-Page, the surviving daughter of the Decedent, has agreed to a settlement of all claims against the Defendant and now seeks approval of the wrongful death settlement. On October 7, 2019, the Court reviewed the settlement agreement in camera. On October 8, 2019, the parties appeared by counsel and presented evidence in support of their Application for Approval of Wrongful Death Settlement and For Order Under Section 537.095 RSMo. After hearing the evidence and arguments of counsel and reviewing the pleadings and filings, the Court makes the following findings and recommendations:

         1. The Decedent is survived by her mother, Beverly M. Gooch, and Decedent's only natural child, daughter Ashlynd Coffey-Page. (Exhs. 1 & 2.) Decedent's father passed away in 2017. (Doc. #36 at 10.)

         2. The Court expressly finds that Beverly M. Gooch and Ashlynd Coffey-Page are the only Class I members/claimants entitled to recover damages as a result of the alleged wrongful death of Decedent pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.080.

         3. The Court finds that all Class I claimants have been properly notified and apprised of this settlement.

         4. The parties have agreed to compromise and settle this wrongful death action for the total sum of $200, 000.00, to be distributed as follows:

Beverly M. Gooch: ½ of remainder of the settlement proceeds after payment of
attorneys' fees/expenses and satisfaction/resolution of any lien against the settlement proceeds.
Ashlynd Coffey-Page: ½ of remainder of the settlement proceeds after payment of
attorneys' fees/expenses and satisfaction/resolution of any lien against the settlement proceeds. The Thompson Law Office, PC (attorneys' fees/expenses): $87, 408.49

         5. The Court finds that all Class I claimants agree and consent to the apportionment of the settlement proceeds.

         6. The Court finds the apportionment of the settlement proceeds is fair and reasonable under the circumstances, is in proportion to the loss sustained by Class I claimants Beverly M. Gooch and Ashlynd ...


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