Even as an investigation into the “suicide” death of a Massachusetts woman who was visiting the US Virgin Islands continues, the family of Joan Baruffaldi is suing her husband, Robert Harris, for her wrongful death.
The veterinarian and mother of two, age 45, and her husband had been attending a conference at the island of St. John earlier this month when Harris says he found her hanging by her bathroom belt rope from the hotel bathroom’s curtain rod. Baruffaldi was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The local medical examiner declared her death a suicide.
Harris told authorities he and his wife locked herself in the bathroom after a day of fighting and drinking. He says he heard a crash coming from the locked room and thought she had passed out. Minutes later he contacted hotel security who opened the bathroom door.
Baruffaldi’s family, however, doesn’t believe that she killed herself. The couple fought frequently during their marriage, which lasted less than three years. She even told authorities she was afraid Harris would poison her. Her 14-year-old son from an earlier marriage wrote in a document for a restraining order that he had seen abuse. Baruffaldi later had the restraining order vacated. Her sister had reportedly even warned her not to go to the Virgin Islands.
Baruffaldi’s relatives want another autopsy conducted. Today, a Massachusetts judge removed Harris as the executor of Baruffaldi’s estate.
Boston Wrongful Death
Family members of a person who dies may have grounds for filing a Boston wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity that they believe is responsible for the fatality. Depending on the specifics of the case, a plaintiff may have grounds for suing a negligent car driver, trucker, doctor, product manufacturer, or another liable party. When murder may have been involved, surviving relatives may have cause to sue the suspect for Massachusetts wrongful death.
Joan Baruffaldi’s husband removed from will, MyFoxBoston, November 25, 2009
Legal tangle follows death, Boston Globe, November 24, 2009