Camarena Case Cited as Precedence in Wrongful Death Suit | Frenkel & Frenkel
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Feb 27
2014

Camarena Case Cited as Precedence in Wrongful Death Suit

The United States Department of Justice is citing precedence in a civil case filed by the family of slain ICE special agent, Jaime J. Zapata. According to court documents, the DOJ is using the dismissal of a case in which a Mexican physician, Dr. Humberto Alvarez-Machain-- whose suit against the department was dismissed by the Supreme Court because the harm occurred in Mexico--as the basis in requesting dismissal of the Zapata suit.

Zapata Death

In 2011, Zapata was ordered to travel a dangerous Mexican highway with another agent, Victor Avila, for reasons the department refuses to reveal. While on that trip, drug cartel members murdered Zapata and Avila suffered multiple gunshot wounds that caused serious injury. Zapata's parents, Anthony Zapata Jr. and Mary Zapata-Munoz, along with Avila, have filed a civil lawsuit, alleging a federal tort claim, as well as intentional infliction of emotional harm.

Camarena-Case-Cited-as-Precedence-in-Wrongful-Death-Suit The DOJ is claiming that a case involving the murder of a DEA agent sets precedent in a lawsuit filed by the parents of a slain ICE agent.

Camarena Case

In 1985, Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, a DEA agent, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Mexico. One of those arrested after the investigation of Camarena's murder was Dr. Alvarez-Machain, who stood trial but was acquitted of keeping the agent alive so his captors could continue to torture him. Dr. Alvarez-Machain was sent back to Mexico, where he filed a federal tort claim against the government for false arrest and imprisonment. In 2004, the Supreme Court dismissed the case because the DEA hired Mexican nationals to seize the doctor from his home and bring him to the United States to stand trial, and because the harm occurred in Mexico, Dr. Alvaraez-Machain could not sue the United States government.

Plaintiff Rebuttal

Zapata's parents and Avila claim that the suit is covered under federal tort law as the answers they are seeking are related to events that occurred within the United States. They claim that the government has covered up information regarding the circumstances that led Zapata and Avila's assignment to the highway where they were attacked. In addition, none of the plaintiffs are residents of Mexico, nor have the Zapata's been in Mexico for a significant period over the past decade. That was not the case in the Camarena case.

When the negligence of another person is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in an incident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an incident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else's negligence.