The Nebraska Supreme Court
reinstated the wrongful death suit filed by the parents of Melissa Rodriguez against her boyfriend who escaped
custody at a psychiatric center in Nebraska and strangled her to death in 2013.
Rodriguez’s parents filed the lawsuit against the University of Nebraska
Medical Center and Lasting Hope Recovery Center in 2015, alleging that
they allowed her boyfriend, Mikael Loyd, to walk out of the building on
the same day he killed Rodriguez and disposed of her body in an open grave
at a cemetery in Omaha, NE.
The lawsuit was dismissed by Douglas County District Judge James Gleason
that same year after ruling that it didn’t show the center had a
duty to protect their daughter. The state Supreme Court reversed that
ruling on Friday, June 23 and ordered further proceedings.
previously wrote about this when attorney Brian Jorde, who is representing the family, appeared on
KETV 7 to discuss the case.
“There was no mystery that [Loyd] was going to commit an act of violence
against Melissa Rodriguez,” said Jorde.
In the Supreme Court’s decision (PDF) reversing the judge’s ruling, Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman wrote
that through the facts presented in the case, Lasting Hope Recovery Center
had “taken charge” of Loyd, meaning that they had custody
and a duty to protect the public from any potentially harmful actions
he may take.
“Accepting these facts as true, we determine that the appellants
alleged sufficient facts to state claims against the Lasting Hope defendants
which are plausible on their face,” the judge wrote. “Thus,
we determine that the district court erred when it granted the motions
Following the Supreme Court decision, Jorde stated that, “We are
thrilled for the Rodriguez family and the lasting impact their case has
made on the law. In its decision the Court has made it clear that an entity,
like Lasting Hope, who has custody of a person owes a legal duty of reasonable
care to third parties with regard to risks posed by the person in their
custody. Had Lasting Hope fulfilled this duty Melissa would not have been