National VerdictsFind out about the most important recent cases nationwide selected by VerdictSearch regional editors from coast to coast. Choose a winning strategy based on the latest outcomes and trends in your practice areaPricing Options
Family sued person of interest in alleged rape, killing
District Court of Nemaha County
other-death; other-loss of society
Wrongful Death – Survival Damages; Intentional Torts – Sexual Assault
Latanya Thomas, Kevin Semans, Latanya Thomas, personal representative of the Estate of Tyler Thomas v. State of Nebraska, Peru State College, The City of Auburn, Nemaha County, Nebraska State College Board Members, Nebraska Board of Regents, University of Nebraska, Joshua Keadle, John Does, 1-10,
May 4, 2016
Kevin Semans (Male),
Latanya Thomas (Female),
Estate of Tyler(deceased) Thomas (Female, 19 Years)
Powers Law Group;
Kevin Semans, Latanya Thomas, Estate of Tyler(deceased) Thomas
State of Nebraska,
Peru State College,
The City of Auburn,
University of Nebraska,
Nebraska State College Board Members
Joshua Keadle, Nemaha County, State of Nebraska, Peru State College, The City of Auburn, University of Nebraska, Nebraska State College Board Members
On Dec. 3, 2010, at 1:30 a.m., Tyler Thomas, a 19-year-old student attending Peru State College in Peru was last seen walking across the campus heading to her dorm after an off-campus party. Fellow student Joshua Keadle was subsequently questioned by police regarding her disappearance. Keadle admitted to police that he picked her up and drove her to a secluded boat ramp off campus along the Missouri River and had consensual sex with her. Keadle told police he left Thomas alive at the boat ramp after she threatened to accuse him of rape. Police never charged Keadle, but he’s currently serving a prison sentence of 15 to 20 years for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 2008. Thomas has never been located. The court declared her deceased in 2013. Thomas’ family sued Keadle, the state of Nebraska, Peru State College, the city of Auburn, Nemaha County, Nebraska State College Board Members, Nebraska Board of Regents and the University of Nebraska for the alleged wrongful death of Tyler Thomas. Prior to trial, the court dismissed the state, county, city and school entities. The judge ruled that college officials could not have foreseen that Keadle would possibly commit violence against a fellow student. The trial proceeded against Keadle for the wrongful death. The family claimed that Thomas was the victim of an assault and abduction and was killed as a result of the negligence of the school system. The family alleged that the college assigned Keadle, an older male student, to the same floor and a few doors away from Thomas, who was freshman, in the campus housing. The family alleged that Peru State admitted Keadle as a student when they knew he had a criminal propensities, a criminal background and had trouble prior to his admission. The estate alleged that officials had information and evidence that Keadle’s alleged attack and killing of Thomas was foreseeable based on his conduct while a student, his propensities for criminal behavior and his troubled background. The victim of the alleged 2008 assault reportedly came forward after seeing news coverage of Thomas’ disappearence. Keadle never answered the complaint and the court issued a default judgment on liability.
Thomas’ parents sought to recover compensatory damages for their loss of companionship, society and pain and suffering as a result of the death of their daughter. The estate also sought punitive damages.
The jury awarded $2.64 billion.
Kevin Semans: $30,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages for severe emotional distress; Estate of Tyler(deceased) Thomas: $2,400,000,000 Personal Injury: Punitive Exemplary Damages; $80,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages for wrongful death of Tyler Thomas; $100,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages for the conscious pain and suffering experienced by Tyler Thomas; Latanya Thomas: $30,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages for severe emotional distress
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel.