Gordon Hansmeier and Chris Wills Win Appeal Before the North Dakota Supreme Court in Wrongful Death Case.

On May 14, 2018, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death case brought Keith and Debra Bjerk against Kenton Anderson. Gordon Hansmeier and Chris Wills defended Mr. Anderson before the district court and on appeal before the North Dakota Supreme Court. The case arose out of the death of Christian Bjerk.

In the early morning hours of June 11, 2012, Christian Bjerk drove Wesley Sweeney and C.J. (a minor) to a home owned by Kenton Anderson. Although Mr. Anderson owned the home, he had not lived at or visited the home for the past 3 years. On June 11, 2012, Julie Thorsen was living at the home along with her son, Nick, and her daughter, Julie.

Wesley Sweeney was visiting the home to deliver acid to Nick Thorsen (and others). After Christian Bjerk, Wesley Sweeney, and C.J. arrived at the home, Christian Bjerk, Wesley Sweeney, C.J., Nick Thorsen, and others consumed or ingested the acid that Mr. Sweeney had brought to the home. Christian Bjerk, Wesley Sweeney, and C.J. then consumed ketamine, another drug that Wesley Sweeney had with him when he arrived at the home.

Mr. Anderson was not present at the home and was not aware that Nick Thorsen (or others) would be consuming acid or ketamine at the home on June 11, 2012. After he ingested the drugs, Christian Bjerk was asked to leave the home. Later that day, Christian Bjerk was found dead, either on a sidewalk near the home or in a nearby park.

Keith and Debra Bjerk, Christian's parents, brought a lawsuit against Mr. Anderson, claiming that Mr. Anderson was negligent and that his negligence caused or contributed to Christian's death. Mr. Anderson moved for summary judgment. The district court dismissed Mr. and Mrs. Bjerk's claims. Mr. and Mrs. Bjerk appealed, and the Supreme Court of North Dakota affirmed.

The Bjerks have until May 29 to ask the Supreme Court of North Dakota to reconsider, and they have until August 13 to seek review by the United States Supreme Court.

The full opinion is available here:

https://www.ndcourts.gov/court/opinions/20170160.htm