AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta reaches a settlement with the family of the child killed at Fleming Park
Last year, 12-year-old Melquan Robinson was electrocuted when he touched a baseball field fence while playing at the park.
Tuesday afternoon, Commissioners approved a settlement that includes paying Melquan’s parents $1.5 million dollars.
“No settlement amount could ever begin to mend the hearts of Melquan’s parents, family and friends who lost a beloved son. As a city, we can’t say or do anything to bring Melquan back, but we have a responsibility to take steps to identify what went wrong and work diligently to resolve it so this tragedy never happens again,” says Mayor Hardie Davis.
The city also agreed to 3 other components as part of the settlement:
- Ensure that all the electrical systems at its parks have been inspected, and any necessary responsive measures taken to ensure the safety of these parks.
- Renaming of the adjacent street to Melquan Way.
- Erecting an appropriate memorial to the life of Melquan Robinson, Jr. at Fleming Park.
Commissioners also committed to 5 additional settlements with the families of 4 kids and 1 adult who were also hurt.
- Jennifer Herman on behalf of minor Damien Patrick in the sum $112,625.00
- Brandi Sette and David Sette on behalf of David Setter Jr for the sum of $150,000.00
- Francisco Berry and Roshanit Boyd on behalf of Traqwon Berry for the sum of $136,000
- Francisco Berry in the sum of $63,750.00
- Nakia Howard and Eddie Brackins on behalf of Namon Brackins for the sum of $112,625.00
When the settlement news broke on Tuesday, many people reacted by saying things like “$1.5 million? That’s it? Why not more? Rob Register, the attorney representing Melquan Robinsons parents, explains the legal barriers that they faced with this situation.
In the state of Georgia, individuals cannot sue a city or county because those entities are protected by sovereign immunity. Register points out that the legal exceptions involve risks not only for the city, but also for the family.
In a statement sent to NewsChannel 6 Register said:
“While we firmly believe that employees of Augusta-Richmond County had a ministerial duty to maintain the wiring at Fleming Park in compliance with the National Electric Code, there was a substantial chance that a court could find the decisions as to how and when to do the work were discretionary in nature. If the court found the employees’ actions discretionary, the Robinsons’ lawsuit would be dismissed and they would have recovered nothing for the death of their son.”Rob Register; Beasley Allen Law Firm
Furthermore, Register says the process described above could have added up to years of court battles and that is not something Melquan’s parents wanted.
Also in his statement Register said, “We believe the settlement indicates that Augusta recognizes the need to take responsibility for what went wrong…”
Mayor Hardie Davis addressed the responsibility they have that carries on into the future.
“We have a responsibility to take steps to identify not only went wrong and continue working diligently to resolve it so that this tragedy never happens again,” Mayor Davis said from the podium.
he statement sent on behalf of Melquan Robinson Junior’s parents finshed with this:
“For Chinnika Jackson and Melquan Robinson, Sr., they will remember their son as a kind, hard-working, energetic boy who was gifted at sports and loved by all. They hope their fight for justice will keep other parents from living out the same nightmare that started for them nearly a year ago. “Rob Register; Beasley Allen Law Firm
CLICK HERE to read the full statement sent to NewsChannel 6 from Beasley Allen Law Firm.