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Wrongful Deaths

Yelverton Estate v. Young’s Memorial Day Care, Inc. (5 year old killed by motorcycle in housing complex)
The Washington Post logo
SE Man Sought in Death of Boy, 5, Hit by Motorbike. Washington Post. 4 November 2004.

“D.C. police were seeking a 30-year-old man last night on charges that he struck and killed a 5-vear-old boy last week while riding a motorbike through the courtyard of a Southeast Washington apartment complex . . . [he was] walking home with an adult caregiver from a nearby day-care center when the accident occurred . . .”

The Washington Post logo
5-Year-Old Dies After Hit and Run. Washington Post. 30 October 2004.

Althea Yelverton, the five-year-old boy's mother, said she was angry that her son was walking through a “drug infested area.” She went to the church yesterday and asked church officials, “What the heck were they doing up there?”

ABC 7 News logo
5 Yr. Old Boy Struck by Motorcycle Dies. ABC-7 News - WJLA. 30 October 2004.

“The two boys and five other children were walking with an an adult caregiver from Stanton Elementary School to Young's Memorial Day Care Learning Center on Alabama Avenue, S.E., less than a half-mile away . . .” The caregiver was suspended from work.

The Washington Post logo
Motorcycle Hits 2 Boys, Critically Injuring Them. Washington Post. 29 October 2004.

“Residents said that dirt bikes . . . are a problem in the apartment complex . . . riders often speed around . . . a motorcyclist had been riding in the courtyard since about noon yesterday . . . security workers apparently did nothing . . . ”

NBC 4 logo
Victim’s Brother, 7, Witnessed Hit-And-Run. NBC4. 29 October 2004.

“Sources said 5-year-old Lawrence Yelverton died early Friday morning. ‘I want justice to be served’ said the boy's mother, Althea Yelverton. ‘'I'm not going to rest until then!’”

Pendleton Estate v. District of Columbia (DC Jail Stabbing Death)
City Paper logo
Pearl Beale Gets Justice: City Gives Biggest Payout In Wrongful Death of Inmate. Washington City Paper. 2 December 2008.

Beale's attorney, Douglas Sparks, wanted to talk about the case’s impact on jail reforms, and its impact on Ms. Beale: “During 5 years of litigation following the savage murder of her son, Pearl Beale never stopped telling his story despite her own grief. With eloquence and dignity, she put a human face on the rampant violence at the jail. . . . The fundamental changes made to how the jail is run today would have been unthinkable before Givon’s death. The jail is safer, less crowded, better managed, and more humane because prison reform advocates cared and District leaders acted.”

Washington Lawyers Committee logo
District of Columbia Settles Case Involving Wrongful Death of Prisoner. WASHINGTON LAWYERS' COMMITTEE UPDATE. Fall 2008.

The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, along with co-counsel Douglas Sparks and Covington & Burling LLP “settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the District of Columbia on behalf of the family of a prisoner of the D.C. Jail. The settlment was the largest amount ever offered by the District in a wrongful death action involving a prisoner .”

Washington Window logo
Jailhouse Justice. Washington Window, The Newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese in Washington, Vol. 74 No. 11, November 2005.

“There are no excuses," said Douglas R. Sparks, Beale's attorney. "It's a simple matter. There hasn't been one day since the law was signed that the jail has been in compliance. How can you expect anyone in the jail to have respect for the law when the jailers disregard it with impunity?”

The Washington Post logo
DC Corrections Chief Resigns. Washington Post. 18 February 2005.

“Douglas R. Sparks, an attorney for the family of one of the inmates killed in December 2002, said Washington is “personally” named as a defendant in a $20 million lawsuit against the city. “It’s probably a good thing for the city,” Sparks said of Washington’s departure. “Pretrial detainees haven’t been convicted of anything. They’ve been forced to live in an inhumane jail, and the director is violating their civil rights.”

City Paper logo
Eating Disorder: When Guards at D.C. Jail Do Lunch, Inmates Do Whatever They Please. Washington City Paper. 4 June 2004.

“Attorney Douglas Sparks, a board member of the D.C. Prisoners' Legal Services Project, says: ‘It’s not a coincidence [that inmates are stabbed when guards leave the units].’ He represents the estate of Givon Pendleton, who was fatally stabbed while the third guard was [out of the cellblock]. The incident kicked off the bloodiest four-day span at the jail in memory.”

The Washington Post logo
Consultant Urges Cut in D.C. Jail Population. Washington Post. 3 June 2004.

“But Douglas R. Sparks, an attorney for the family of one of the inmates killed in December 2002, said Director Washington’s position on the report conflicts with the legislation that mandated the study. ‘The bill requires that the mayor now impose the number that the consultants arrived at as the maximum inmate population at the jail,’ Sparks said.”

The Washington Post logo
Protecting DC Inmates. Letter to the Editor (by Douglas Sparks). Washington Post. 16 January 2004.

“I hope that The Post and others of integrity and good conscience will continue to spotlight these conditions so the public will know how these inmates live and die,” wrote Sparks.

The Washington Post logo
Dangerous Brotherhood at the DC Jail? Washington Post. Colbert King -Op.Ed. 27 December 2003.

“Pendleton’s mother, Pearl Beale, is suing the District for millions. Through her lawyer, Douglas Sparks, a board member of the DC Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, Beale charges the city with maintaining poor jail security.

The Washington Post logo
DC Jail Itemizes Smuggled Weapons. Washington Post. 23 December 2003

“Doug Sparks, an attorney for the family of an inmate who was stabbed to death at the jail last December, said the weapon in that case [may have been] smuggled by a corrections officer.”

Fox 5 News logo
Questions About Gunfire at the DC Jail. Fox 5 News. 22 December 2003.

“One year later, tears still flow for Givon Pendleton’s mother. Her lawyer, Douglas Sparks, describes the conditions at DC Jail as a disgrace.”

Fox 5 News logo
Jailhouse Gunfire. Fox 5 News. 22 December 2003.

“One year ago, a folding knife was smuggled into the jail and used to stab Givon Pendleton. Sparks says that the DC Government has yet to explain how the knife entered the jail, but that he intends to get some answers through the wrongful death lawsuit he filed less than two weeks ago.”

9 News logo
Mayor Seeks Answers to DC Jail Shootings. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 21 December 2003.

“Doug Sparks is a DC lawyer suing the city on behalf of the family of Givon Pendleton, a 24-year-old inmate who was stabbed to death . . . last December . . . Sparks says, he [is] not surprised by Saturday’s shooting.”

9 News logo
Legislation on Population Cap at DC Jail Follows Inmate Death. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 7 July 2003.

“Six months after the Court ordered population cap was lifted, Givon Pendleton was stabbed to death. Attorney Douglas Sparks represents his mother and is a big supporter of Council member Patterson’s bill to recap the jail population, but says the issue of violence and overcrowding has already been studied to death.”

The Washington Post logo
Suspect in 2 Killings Charged in Slaying of D.C. Jail Inmate. Washington Post. 3 January 2003.

A D.C. jail inmate awaiting trial in two earlier slayings has been charged with the fatal stabbing of another detainee, Givon Pendleton, during a dinner dispute over a carton of milk.

The Washington Post logo
Inmate Dies, Another Hurt in D.C. Jail Stabbing. Washington Post. 17 December 2002.

One inmate was killed and a second was wounded in separate stabbings over the weekend at the D.C. jail, just days after another detainee was slain in a similar attack.

Martell Estate v. Management Company (Latin Toddler Death/ Fall From Unscreened Window)
La Nación USA logo
Seguridad Para Los Niños en Edificios de Washington, DC. La Nación USA. 12 March 2003.

“La madre del niño y su abogado, Douglas R. Sparks, sostienen que de haberse encontrado las pantallas de protección, se hubiera evitado la muerte del niño.”

Univisión logo
Un Milagro y Una Tragedia. Parte No. 2. Univision. 12 March 2003.

“Douglas Sparks dice que la compania le deberia haber informado a los otros inquilinos cuando se cayo el primer nino.”

Univisión logo
Un Milagro y Una Tragedia. Parte No. 1. Univision. 11 March 2003.

“Douglas Sparks, el abogado de la familia, dice que alguien se tiene que despertar y hacer que los arrendadores sigan la ley que requiera pantallas de proteccion en las ventanas.”

9 News logo
9 News Investigates: Drawn to the Edge. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 11 March 2003.

Attorney Doug Sparks represents the family in a lawsuit. He says: “The real issue is how many more children are going to die before management complies with the law? How much longer are we going to blame the victims? Why didn't they warn parents that another child fell?”

The Washington Post logo
Metro in Brief. Washington Post. 29 August 2001.

An employee of the apartment complex had removed a wire screen about a month ago. District law requires that outside windows be screened from March through November.

The Washington Post logo
District Toddler Dies in Fall From Sixth-Floor Window. Washington Post. 27 August 2001.

Landlord had removed screens from family’s apartment windows during August. A District toddler climbed through the opening and fell six floors to his death.

Jones Estate v. District of Columbia (Man dies from sudden cardiac arrest: improper emergency care)
City Paper logo
Things Are Locking Up . Letter to the Editor (by Douglas Sparks). Washington City Paper. 2 May 2008.

“Although Jones' death occurred well before Devon Brown became the DOC Director, he did not pass the buck. Instead, Mr. Brown apologized to Jones' mother and made sure the entire correctional workforce was retrained, and assured Ms.' Durham that he would not tolerate neglect by DOC employees,” wrote Sparks. Read More

City Paper logo
FOLLOW THAT STORY. Department of Corrections Apologizes. Washington City Paper. 9 April 2008.

“Jennifer Durham settled her lawsuit last year for the death of her son at the D.C. Jail. A video of the incident showed that corrections officers failed to perform CPR or even the most basic life-saving measures on her son. The settlement for Jones' young daughter wasn't enough for Durhams' attorney, Douglas Sparks. He wanted Department of Corrections officials to meet directly with Durham. After they met with DOC Director Devon Brown, Durham said: “It made me feel like what [my son] went through . . . made a difference . . .” As a result of the settlement, the entire corrections workforce now is certified in everything from basic first aid to the operation of portable defibrillators.”

City Paper logo
Video Commentary . Letter to the Editor (by Douglas Sparks). Washington City Paper. 5 July 2007.

“Institutional indifference allowed Thomas Jones to die on a cold gym floor surrounded by poorly trained correctional officers . . . So, is it a bad thing that the public has learned of conditions in the jail? Or will the city make it right? The answer should matter to all people of conscience and good will because, in the words of Jones’ mother, “the next video could be your son,” wrote Sparks.

City Paper logo
Man Down!: How a poorly trained staff at the D.C. Jail let an inmate die. Washington City Paper. 28 June 2007.

In depositions taken by Douglas Sparks, attorney for the ‘man down,’ an Officer gave his definition of CPR: “If you’re laid out there, well, what I can remember is you look at the person, see if they’re breathing or not. Shake them, talk to them”. . . Another officer did not know what a defibrillator was . . .“That’s the big bulb where you assist people to breathe . . . ” To which Sparks replied: “It’s actually an electrical shocking device for cardiac resuscitation.”

McNeil Estate v. District of Columbia (Domestic Violence Wrongful Death / Police Failure to Protect Victim)
DC Trial logo
Catherine McNeil v. District of Columbia. DC Trial. Vol. VI, No. 2. December 2002.

“First successful lawsuit in Washington metropolitan area seeking damages for police failure to protect domestic violence victim from murder by ex-boyfriend who had been the subject of a civil protection order. Settlement to pay over $800,000 to surviving children.”

9 News logo
City Settles Lawsuit Brought by Family of Mother Killed by Ex-Boyfriend. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 4 September 2002.

“It’s not easy to sue the police for failing to protect someone. But Sparks used a legal strategy never tried here before, hinging the case on special police duties involving domestic violence cases, and won a first of its kind settlement.”

The Washington Post logo
Woman Fatally Stabbed Near NE Home After Date. Washington Post. 19 October 2000.

The body of Nicole McNeil, 19, was found with multiple stab wounds in an alley by her home. Earlier, McNeil's mother called police because Nicole's ex-boyfriend had tried to break into their apartment. "And they never came," McNeil said.

The Washington Post logo
Ex-Boyfriend Surrenders in Slaying. Washington Post. 20 October 2000.

James Moore turned himself in to police in connection with the stabbing death of 19-year-old Nicole McNeil, his former girlfriend who had tried to sever ties with Moore. He is accused of dragging her to a dark alley and stabbing her multiple times.

Client Reviews
"Mr. Sparks is by far the best lawyer I have ever met. Lawyers are easy to find, but finding one who is smart, honest, thorough, and truly cares about people is very difficult. Every member of my family has trusted him for over twenty years, and he has never let us down. Mr. Sparks is REAL and passionate about helping others." Sanaz
"Doug made me feel confident and welcome after my first lawyer gave up on my auto accident case. I was impressed by his intelligence, fast thinking, and attention to detail." Auto Accident Client
"A truly rare attorney who is out solely for YOUR best interest. In the courtroom, Doug dominated. He is extremely skilled, and an expert in what he does." Criminal Defense Client