Family Plans Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Accidental Drowning

October 3, 2014 | News

St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) October 3, 2014 – An Iowa family has told the press that they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Missouri Highway Patrol in the death of their son, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

Last May, Brandon Ellingson, 20, fell from a patrol boat and drowned while handcuffed and in the custody of a Missouri State Trooper.

“Some of the testimony given at the inquest seems to indicate that negligence may have played a role in this tragedy,” commented Charlie James, a Missouri wrongful death attorney who does not represent the Ellingson family. “If the Missouri Highway Patrol failed to reasonably protect Brandon, they should be held responsible for the harm they have caused.”

The death occurred after Missouri State Trooper Tony Piercy arrested Ellingson for driving a boat while intoxicated. Piercy brought Ellingson onto the Highway Patrol boat, handcuffed him, put a life vest onto him and drove away. Ellingson flipped out of the boat when Piercy slowed for an oncoming wave, and after a few moments, his life vest slipped off in the water. Piercy jumped in to save him but was unsuccessful.

According USA Today, Piercy testified that he was unaware of a groin strap on the life vest that could have kept the vest secure. In addition, reports USA Today, Piercy used the first life vest he could grab, which was of the wrong type. The correct type could have kept Ellingson face-up in the water.

Piercy testified at the inquest that he had never received any training in arresting someone on the water or in putting a life vest on a suspect in handcuffs.

The inquest ruled the death an accident.

“This family is suffering from an unimaginable loss due to an accident that may have been preventable,” remarked James. “A wrongful death lawsuit will not bring the Ellingsons’ son back, but it may help them find some measure of justice.”

Learn more at

James Law Group, LLC
14 Richmond Center Court
St. Peters, MO 63376

Phone: 636.397.2411
Toll Free: 800.229.7112



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