National Park Service faces $270-million wrongful death claim

Attorney Deborah Chang, who filed the claim on behalf of Michaud, as well as Nakajjigo’s parents, wrote that the National Park Service has for years used entrance and exit gates made of metal poles with “spear-like sharp ends, and they were known to swing into roadways when left unsecured.”

Employees “knew or should have known that winds strong enough to carve stone are certainly strong enough to blow an unrestrained metal pipe gate into the path of an oncoming vehicle,” Chang wrote in the claim.

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“What he saw and experienced that day, I cannot even imagine,” said Deborah Chang, an attorney representing Michaud and the Nakajjigo family. “The end of the gate impaled the car like a lance, and literally beheaded his newlywed bride right in front of him.”

Chang has filed a $270 million claim for wrongful death. It’s likely the first step in a lengthy federal lawsuit.

“How do you measure someone like her? She’s done more at the age of 25 than most people do in their entire lives,” she said.

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(Below is an excerpt from the NBC article written by Elizabeth Chuck and Diana Dasrath)

“Our mission is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Michaud said.

According to Deborah Chang, the Los Angeles-based trial attorney representing Michaud, there was nothing he could have done to swerve out of the way of the gate that killed his wife and narrowly missed him.

Yet park employees could have done a lot, the claim alleges, including taking note during inspections of the gate that it posed a danger and putting an inexpensive padlock on it.