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Sen. Kerry Wants $8.5M Massachusetts Wrongful Death Payments to Go to Families of ‘Whitey’ Bulger Victims

Senator John Kerry wants the families of Brian Halloran and Michael Donahue to receive the $8.5 million in Massachusetts wrongful death damages that a US district judge had awarded them in 2009. Donahue and Halloran were both victims of James “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous Boston mafia head of the Winter Hill Gang.

Unfortunately, an appeals court threw out their Boston wrongful death cases and made the awards invalid on the grounds that the families should have filed their civil lawsuits sooner. Now, Senator Kerry is trying to get around that decision with legislation that would mandate that the US Treasury pay the families of the two men the damages they are owed. While Kerry asked for Congress’s help in this matter, Rep. William Keating, also of Massachusetts, filed a similar measure in the US House.

According to the Boston wrongful death lawsuits, Donahue and Halloran were murdered in 1982 after John Connolly Jr. a former government agent, warned Bulger that Halloran was going to name the mob head in a murder. Bulger and another mobster are accused of shooting Halloran 22 times. Donahue, who was there to drive Halloran, sustained bullet wounds to the head.

The families had brought their Massachusetts wrongful death cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to recover damages for the harm they suffered under the hands of the government. Per the act, claims must be brought within two years, but this limitation doesn’t stand if a victim does not know or has been prevented from knowing that he/she has grounds for a claim.

The appeals court said that given that there was extensive media coverage blaming Bulger and Stephen Flemmi for the shootings, the families should have filed its claims by September 2000. Donahue’s widow, however, argued that for almost two decades the FBI had told her that someone else had killed her husband.

Kerry filing bill to pay $8.5M to families of men allegedly killed by ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Washington Post/AP, November 1, 2011
‘What Kind of Government?’, The New York Times, October 23, 2011

Related Web Resources:

Whitey Bulger Biography

Federal Tort Claims Act, Legal Information Institute

More Blog Posts:
Deutsche Bank and Domino’s Pizza Sued in $15M Boston Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Pizza Delivery Man’s Death, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 27, 2011
Gangsters “Whitey” Bulger and “The Rifleman” Flemmi Ordered to Pay Victim’s Family $30 Million for Her Massachusetts Wrongful Death, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 18, 2009
Appeals Court Upholds Quincy Family’s $3.1 Million Award For FBI Leak that Led to Fisherman’s Death, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 20, 2008
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