Legal Remedy for Nepali Victims killed at Stores


The recent murder of Surendra Dangol in Boston has raised several issues ranging from the status of Nepalese working odd hours in the US , premises accident and liability of the store or gas station owners, from whom the victim’s family seldom get compensated. AS A MINORITY AMONG THE MINORITIES, WE DO NOT HAVE A SAY.

THINGS TO BE AWARE OF TO SUE A VIOLATING STORE/STATION ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF STORE CLERKS:

  • The store must have adequate security cameras
  • A second staff must be available at all times during graveyard shifts
  • A bullet proof glass or similar measures must have been adopted.
  • Repetition of dangerous activities raises the liability of the store owners.
  • A possible case can demand (1) full compensation for victim’s estate and children and
    aggravating circumstances damages, (2) punitive damages to force employer to opt for better security measures (3) costs of litigation, and other relief.

Working odd jobs at gas stations, convenience stores, liquor stores and restaurants is not luxury for the Nepalese but a necessity. Often, we find work, specifically vacant for the graveyard shift, considered risky and dangerous. The pay is same minimum wage ranging from five dollars to nine dollars, sometimes with some perks such as an-hour-an-half pay. Is it worth it? Again, this is our necessity, not a luxury. Graveyard shifts are considered dangerous, risky and full of threats no matter where you live in the US , be it Manhattan or any convenience store in a suburb. Often these jobs come coupled with hate crimes, joy-killing, robbery and fatal assaults. The business owners console the recruits assuring them with security measures such as security camera, alarmed door, bullet proof windows and at the same time hide the ugly truth about he neighborhood. The case of a Texas convenience store owner Naushad Virani’s murder is currently being investigated for hate crime homicide where a white murderer venomously foulmouthed the deceased racially before surrendering to white officers.

On September 28, 2008 when Ashok Bhattarai was murdered in Missoiri City, hundreds flocked in at the store, expressed their grief and condolence and demanded justice be done. The mayor and the police department vowed to take action and as a result the culprit was arrested and is being tried. Whatever happened to First Stop Food Store’s liability towards the victim’s family, we do not know! Similar fate of Late Rabindra Sharma in South Carolina in October this year.

In case of Surendra Dangol, the criminal is at large, a white suspect. In case of Ashok Bharttarai, a teen ager 17-year-old Raymond Whitcher is being tried for murder. Theodis Dodson has pleaded guilty to capital murder of Gaurab Rajbanshi and received a life sentence while Jeff Dodson is being tried for the death penalty for killing in the same case and Fredrick Hughes who was in the get-a-way car and was found not guilty. In case of Jas Bahadur Rai, Leonard Junior Coulter, 46, was arrested. On the other hand, status of Himank Karki’s murderer is still unknown. Weren’t the business owners, where the victims died, responsible ethically and legally to some extent? What about the accidental murder of Amrit Dhital, Puskar Acharya, Prahlad Gurung and Subash Gurung who were killed in Leon County, TX on January 7, 2006 , in which the victims were not at fault and were hit by another car? What about Utsav Basnet, Bedija Kharel and Nishma Timilsina killed in a car accident in Southern Minnesota highway on January 4, 2006 , again not-at-fault and were passengers in the car being driven by a 17-year-old American girl from Clarks Grove? Likewise, Kritika Singh lost control of her Isuzu Rodeo about 11 p.m. when her car struck the mattress on the highway near Nutley Street in Fairfax County, VA due to the fault of Richard R. Moon, 58, of Herndon, who was driving a box truck.

ARE WE BEING FAIRLY COMPENSATED? THIS IS THE BIG QUESTION.

Based on my research as a law student, a Tort Case against the employer store/station if the owner does not cooperate to compensate the victims family. The case could be for : (1) compensatory and punitive damage and (2) Wrongful death OR (1) Workers Compensation.

In any case, the owner will be liable for compensation towards the victims family i.e wife, children and any other direct dependents.

There could be a huge verdict (although it will take a couple of years if the victim’s estate does not settle with the employer) requiring the employer to pay compensatory damage to the family, Punitive damages to pay for creating more safe and secure environment at the stores AND/OR pay the family with weekly workers compensation allowances for a long time. See the Link below.

A comparative Analysis in Late Surendra Dangol’s case can be read here.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

When an employee is injured in the course of his or her employment, the injured worker is entitled to a number of statutory workers compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation benefits include:

o Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits
o Vocational Rehabilitation Services
o Reasonable Burial Expenses up to $4,000 where Injury Results in Death
o Weekly Benefits to Surviving Spouse until she remarries
o Weekly Benefits to Dependent Children


What is a Wrongful Death?

In contrast with murder and manslaughter, which involves the taking of a human life without legal justification, which are criminal acts punishable by imprisonment or death, claims for “wrongful death” are civil actions, by which the estate of the decedent seeks monetary compensation for death brought about by negligence.

The employer shall be liable in damages in the amount of: (1) the fair monetary value of the decedent to the persons entitled to receive the damages recovered, as provided in section one, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected net income, services, protection, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice of the decedent to the persons entitled to the damages recovered; + (2) the reasonable funeral and burial expenses of the decedent; + (3) punitive damages in an amount of not less than five thousand dollars in such case as the decedent’s death was caused by the malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant or by the gross negligence of the defendant; except that (1) the liability of an employer to a person in his employment shall not be governed by this section, [this means workers compensation applies]

Disclaimer:
The article or any of the articles in this series may not be and should not be constituted as legal advice. Each case has its own merits and differs from the other. The facts used are based on the information disseminated on Late Dangol’s case in different US and International Medias. Writer does not claim responsibility for any action arising out of the academic research nor it is an intent or attempt to defame, libel or slander.

The writer is exercising his First Amendment Right to Speech.

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