Chris Henry’s estate sues his fiancee

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It has been more than two years since Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry died when he fell from the back of a pickup truck driven by his fiancee.

There are still issues stemming from the tragedy, however. Henry’s estate has filed a lawsuit accusing Loleini Tonga of negligence that led to his death. According to the suit, Tonga knew that Henry was standing on the truck bed and pounding on the roof telling her to stop. The suit alleges that her negligent driving caused Henry to be thrown from the bed of the truck. Henry had jumped on the bed when Tonga drove away following an argument between the couple in Charlotte on December 16th, 2009.

Tonga was not charged by the police after the incident. The lawyer for the estate said that does not mean she isn’t “civilly liable” for his death. Tonga did not respond to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s request for comment.

Tonga’s mother, the owner of the truck, is also being targeted in the suit, which seeks more than $10,000 in damages. The lawyer for the estate told the Enquirer that the goal of the suit is not to take money away from Tonga, though. They want to collect money from auto insurance companies that covered Tonga and her mother. The three children Tonga and Henry had together, who lost “have lost the reasonably expected net income that he would have provided as a player in the National Football League,” would be the beneficiaries.

44 responses to “Chris Henry’s estate sues his fiancee

  1. This makes sense… gotta take care of Slim’s kids. Basically Loleini will be managing that cash on behalf of the kids, so in some sense, she’s suing herself…

  2. It was an unfortunate accident but she was driving a moving vehicle and HE decided to jump into the bed of the pickup…..I know lawyers love to be ambulance chasers but it’s time people started taking responsibility for their own stupid actions.

  3. My first thought was… well, the suite is correct Tonga was negligent in not stopping the vehicle safely.

    Then I realized.. wait a minute, Tonga is the mother of his kids? I presume they ARE the estate and she would control their interest… She’s suing herself?!

  4. “I bet the liability limit on those policies isn’t more than $300k,”

    The problem is, the lawyers will probably get 1/3 and another 1/2 will go to “expenses”. Kids end up with practically nothing except the memory of how their mother negligence and their father’s negligence lead to the tragic death of their father and then how their mom sues herself so that some lawyers could get rich fleecing insurance companies while they get pennies.

    Great legacy you’ve got there. I hope everyone is proud of themselves!

  5. thejuddstir… does dying count as taking responsibility?? yea, slim wasn’t so bright, but that’s harsh.

  6. For the money these guys make, and their youth, term life insurance would seem to be a really cheap benefit to provide. I’m pretty sure most players don’t think about it, but the NFLPA should. Apparently, he didn’t have enough life insurance, or maybe not any. Too bad for his kids.

  7. “Death by misadventure”, might not be covered in his policy. It’s not like he was in a plane crash, after all. He does a really stupid thing, on purpose, and he’s dead because of it. I wouldn’t pay the policy either.

  8. “Henry had jumped on the bed when Tonga drove away following an argument between the couple in Charlotte on December 16th, 2009.”

    I think it’s very sad that this happened, but after reading this I have a hard time pinning negligence on a specific person.

  9. Im sorry but how can u assume with a person with a reckless lifestyle as chris’s would have made x amount of money in football. For all we know he was one screw up away from a lifetime suspension from the game and would have not made any additional money. God forbid his kids have to work for a living and learn to respect hard work and life and maybe not grow up in chris’s lifestyle. But no the courts will hand them this money they will grow up with no self respect and cruise right down the same path he did.

  10. I feel bad for the guy i truly do. I’m sure a lot of us here have done crazy things in the heat of an argument. But you cannot tell me that after a huge fight, you having to leave to get away from the situation, having your fiancee jumping on to your moving car, then banging on the roof. You tell me if you would stop. Sorry to tell most of you but these stories alot of times end in Murder- Suicide. He was thinking irrationally and when you think irrationally you tend to do irrational things which at times put you and the ones around you at risk.

  11. “No winners here, only losers… except the lawyers. They get paid no matter what.”

    Nope, the lawyers are still losers, even if they get paid…

  12. For all those who don’t understand how things work.

    The mother and kids will get zero dollars if the case is won which I think it will be. The money will go into a trust that will be run by a court appointed executor, with the case being what it is I seriously doubt a judge will allow the mom to be this person.

    Also in cases like this the lawyers probably wont make much for the simple reason that the innsurrance company will settle long before any trial.

    Also I just want to say that no matter what Henry did, tonga did not stop the truck when she knew that Henry was in a dangerous spot. Not only did she not stop, she speed up and made sure he fell out. IMO this woman should be jailed. Just because henry wasn’t doing the right thing doesn’t mean she gets to get away with doing something wrong either.

  13. @ andyreid, no two wrongs don’t make a right and they were both clearly far from adult enough to have children, but if you’re a woman whose man has shown the tendencies of Henry AND is crazy enough to jump into a moving vehicle to continue a fight how do you not feel some fear of what he may do if you stop?

    How about if someone is a responsible PARENT they don’t do idiotic teenage stuff like jumping into their baby momma’s pickup truck bed? Heaven forbid someone grows up and acts responsible when they have kids. And all of us wind up paying for their idiocy. I feel for those kids.

  14. Tragic. I think he had emotional problems to begin with, which led to impulsive behavior, like jumping into the bed of a moving truck.

    The whole thing is terrible. He’s free from the pain of this world that he didnt understand.

  15. I foresee a dismissal on the grounds of failure to state a cause if action. First, I cannot see what damages the estate may claim if their total demand is for $30,000. In wrongful death actions, an area in which I practice in NY, the damages being sought & awarded to the estate of the deceased are lost wages due to the death. There is a specific formula that is used in NY that takes into account the deceased’s education level, prior average income, expected length of employment in the field they worked at the time of death, and life expectancy of a same or similar individual in that community/area. A claim for $30,000 seems more to be a claim for unpaid medical expenses. While injuries involving an automobile accident are normally covered under NY’s no-fault insurance law, anything that wasn’t paid would have been covered by the deceased’s primary medical insurance, which would serve as secondary insurance in these situations. Second, there is the legal doctrine of contributory negligence and/or assumption of the risk. Even if the estate is able to demonstrate that the fiancé’s negligence was the proximate of Henry’s death, they are going to be hard pressed to show that Henry jumping on a car in an attempt to stop it did not contribute to his death. Any damages award against the fiancé would be offset by the percentage the jury/judge (jury trial or bench trial) finds that Henry contributed to his own death. Third, and most importantly, if the estate was attempting to compel the insurance company to cover the accident, they should have commenced the action directly against the insurance company. Even if the insurance provider(s) is/are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, there is a 99.9% chance the judge presiding over the case will sever the cases & order separate trials against the fiancé & insurance provider(s) respectively. In just about every jurisdiction in the US, evidence of a defendant having insurance to cover the damages is inadmissible & even the mere mention of it is grounds for a mistrial. It is well-settled law that if a jury is apprised of the existence of an insurance policy to cover the damages being sought, the Defendant is significantly prejudiced on the grounds that the jury would be more likely to award the Plaintiff their damages because there would be minimal harm done to the Defendant.

    There are many holes in this case, but then again, I haven’t read the complaint in this action so I just don’t know. If a client of mine was served with papers in this action, the aforementioned approach is what I would take in defending it. Ultimately, I am predicting that this case will be dismissed in the relatively near future. However, I am licensed to practice in NY & NJ, not Ohio. As any attorney can tell you, laws covering civil actions, specifically wrongful death actions, varies significantly from jurisdiction (state) to jurisdiction. Nevertheless, evidentiary laws tend to be rather uniform & are closely tailored to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The comparative negligence & existence of an insurance policy are aspects that are going to be hard to overcome.

  16. You else thinks she is probably trying to get another pro athlete to be her next baby daddy/cash cow? Because lord forbid she has to go out an get a job like the rest of us.

  17. kappy32 says:
    Jan 20, 2012 1:01 PM
    I foresee a dismissal on the grounds of failure to state a cause if action. First, I cannot see what damages the estate may claim if their total demand is for $30,000. In wrongful death actions, an area in which I practice in NY, the damages being sought & awarded to the estate of the deceased are lost wages due to the death. There is a specific formula that is used in NY that takes into account the deceased’s education level, prior average income, expected length of employment in the field they worked at the time of death, and life expectancy of a same or similar individual in that community/area. A claim for $30,000 seems more to be a claim for unpaid medical expenses. While injuries involving an automobile accident are normally covered under NY’s no-fault insurance law, anything that wasn’t paid would have been covered by the deceased’s primary medical insurance, which would serve as secondary insurance in these situations. Second, there is the legal doctrine of contributory negligence and/or assumption of the risk. Even if the estate is able to demonstrate that the fiancé’s negligence was the proximate of Henry’s death, they are going to be hard pressed to show that Henry jumping on a car in an attempt to stop it did not contribute to his death. Any damages award against the fiancé would be offset by the percentage the jury/judge (jury trial or bench trial) finds that Henry contributed to his own death. Third, and most importantly, if the estate was attempting to compel the insurance company to cover the accident, they should have commenced the action directly against the insurance company. Even if the insurance provider(s) is/are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, there is a 99.9% chance the judge presiding over the case will sever the cases & order separate trials against the fiancé & insurance provider(s) respectively. In just about every jurisdiction in the US, evidence of a defendant having insurance to cover the damages is inadmissible & even the mere mention of it is grounds for a mistrial. It is well-settled law that if a jury is apprised of the existence of an insurance policy to cover the damages being sought, the Defendant is significantly prejudiced on the grounds that the jury would be more likely to award the Plaintiff their damages because there would be minimal harm done to the Defendant.

    There are many holes in this case, but then again, I haven’t read the complaint in this action so I just don’t know. If a client of mine was served with papers in this…
    ********************************************

    Kappy, don’t you have an ambulance to chase or something?

  18. andyreidisfat says:

    Also I just want to say that no matter what Henry did, tonga did not stop the truck when she knew that Henry was in a dangerous spot. Not only did she not stop, she speed up and made sure he fell out. IMO this woman should be jailed. Just because henry wasn’t doing the right thing doesn’t mean she gets to get away with doing something wrong either.
    ——————————————————–
    Now wait a minute ……… none of us was there to see what was going on.

    If Henry jumped in the back of that truck and was banging on the roof threatening her, who could blame her for NOT stopping, which could have opened her up to having the crap beat out of her by this guy?

    If a man is crazy enough to jump into the back of a moving vehicle, who is to say what his frame of mind was……. dude was acting whacked-out crazy.

  19. This is sad. Go out and get a real job instead of taking advantage of the system. There are plenty of other single moms out there who are doing it. Just because you lived an expensive lifestyle doesn’t mean you deserve to keep living it after your cash cow passes on.

  20. This is down right sad. Because… if Henry’s wife has their children and the ‘estate’ is suing the mom… whos putting the bread on the table for the children? The estate or the mom?

  21. One thing is certain that the actions of the driver will be taken into consideration and very little else.

    There was a person standing in the bed of a pick up truck she was driving. How he got there is irrelevant.

    He was pounding on the roof telling her to stop.

    She did not stop safely. She may have actually swerved in an attempt to dislodge the person from the bed of the truck.

    These are all facts and they are all pretty cut and dry negligence.

    What ought to be illegal is getting over on an insurance company like that and therefore raising my rates.

  22. pftcensorsuck says,

    Now wait a minute ……… none of us was there to see what was going on.

    If Henry jumped in the back of that truck and was banging on the roof threatening her, who could blame her for NOT stopping, which could have opened her up to having the crap beat out of her by this guy?

    If a man is crazy enough to jump into the back of a moving vehicle, who is to say what his frame of mind was……. dude was acting whacked-out crazy.

    ****************

    We may understand why she acted the way that she did. But she is still responsible for those actions. As the operator of the moving vehicle she was responsible for the safety of all of the passengers, wanted or unwanted.

    I understand why she wouldn’t stop the car for that whacked out dude. But understanding her actions does not alleviate responsibility for them.

  23. Im sorry but how can u assume with a person with a reckless lifestyle as chris’s would have made x amount of money in football. For all we know he was one screw up away from a lifetime suspension from the game and would have not made any additional money. God forbid his kids have to work for a living and learn to respect hard work and life and maybe not grow up in chris’s lifestyle. But no the courts will hand them this money they will grow up with no self respect and cruise right down the same path he did.
    ———

    You’re an idiot.

  24. Topher says:
    We may understand why she acted the way that she did. But she is still responsible for those actions. As the operator of the moving vehicle she was responsible for the safety of all of the passengers, wanted or unwanted.

    I understand why she wouldn’t stop the car for that whacked out dude. But understanding her actions does not alleviate responsibility for them.

    ———————————————————
    Like I said, none of us were there …… but if some psycho is trying to kill me, his a$$ is going flying out of the bed of that pick-up truck.

    If he falls on his skull and dies, maybe he shouldn’t have tried to kill me.

  25. He only has two children with her the two boys. The little girl’s father is an NBA player. So I wish the media stop saying he has 3 kids with her b/c he does not.

  26. @watchingyou10 thank you! You are so right. He only had two boys with that hefier! And the media need to get their information right about chris too. He wasn’t even engaged to her and wasn’t going to marry her. I know this because chris is my my ex boyfriend and we had a daughter named danayla that he truely loved and we were going to get back together and get married and raise our daughter together but that ugly hefier ruined it! I hope she burns in hell!!!

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