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Mother files wrongful death suit

Claim seeks $5 million from city, police officer for daughter’s suicide

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POSTED: February 23, 2013 10:00 a.m.

A Richmond Hill mother is seeking $5 million from the city and an officer with the Richmond Hill Police Department, claiming they are to blame for the 2011 suicide of her teenage daughter.
Hinesville attorney Carl R. Varnedoe filed the wrongful death suit Feb. 11 in state court on behalf of Laura Lane Maia, the mother of Sydney Lane Sanders who took her own life in April 2011. Maia is seeking damages in the amount of $5 million.
 “I have accepted service for the defendants, the city and the officer, and the matter has been forwarded to insurance counsel for defense,” Richmond Hill City Attorney Ray Smith said. “Beyond that I’m not at liberty at this time to give any further comment.”
Varnedoe could not be reached for comment by presstime.
The council in August 2011 was issued an ante litem notice regarding the suit, notifying the City Council of the claim for damages.
The suit alleges Sanders’ death was the result of a combination of negligence and tortious misconduct of the Richmond Hill mayor and City Council and Cpl. Doug Sahlberg with the Richmond Hill Police Department.
According to the lawsuit, Sahlberg responded to a suicide attempt by Sanders on or about Feb. 14, 2011, and that as part of the investigation, he or other officers obtained pictures of Sanders’ injuries.
The suit states that more than 10 days later, Sahlberg showed to his own daughter, a fellow student of Sanders, the pictures of Sanders’ injuries.
The suit claims Sahlberg’s daughter told other fellow students about the photographs, which led to Sanders’ suicide on April 5, 2011.
According to the lawsuit, Sahlberg breached his duty to Sanders to safeguard and keep the photos confidential, and that “Salhberg knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known” that showing the photographs made it likely Sanders would further harm herself.
The suit further alleges that Salhberg’s behavior was intentional, reckless, extreme and outrageous.


 

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