Miss. Judge: Tear Gas Maker Owes $1.1 Million

June 28, 2011

A judge has ruled that the maker of tear gas used in a 2006 Jackson police raid must pay $1.1 million to five children of a woman who died after inhaling the fumes.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd ruled that Pennsylvania-based Combined Systems failed to warn police or Linda White of the potential lethal nature of the chemicals, particularly to someone with health issues.

White was not involved in any criminal activity. She died after the raid in which police used tear gas to force out three auto burglary suspects who broke into her home on April 26, 2006. White suffered from a lung disorder.

White’s sister, Dyanne Lewis, filed a suit on behalf of her sister’s five children against Combined Systems and the Jackson Police Department.

Kidd issued his order 15 months after hearing the case against the company without a jury.

An attorney who tried the suit on behalf of the company, David Curtis, declined comment to The Clarion-Ledger.

White had given police permission to enter her home during a search for the three suspects. Two juveniles were captured at the house, and another teenager fled but was caught. White and family members entered the home later that night and began coughing and tearing up from the residual effects of the chemicals released in the house, her family said.

The 42-year-old White died less than two weeks later in a hospital.

Kidd said Combined Systems was negligent for failing to warn that the chemicals had the potential to cause death or injuries to those with pre-existing conditions. He said the company also gave inadequate warnings and training to the city of Jackson regarding decontamination of structures and continuous exposure.

“We believe the judgment is very reasonable considering the damage Linda White sustained,” said Chris Graves, an attorney for White’s family. “No amount of money can bring their mother back.”

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