Church sued for boy's lightning death fighting back
McGregor Baptist wants most claims dismissed
Fighting back! A Fort Myers church facing a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit after a boy was fatally struck by lightning is responding tonight. Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS - Fighting back! A Fort Myers church facing a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit after a boy was fatally struck by lightning is responding tonight. McGregor Baptist Church filing its answer to the lawsuit, saying most of the claims should be dismissed. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason has been following this story and is live in studio with more.
It has been more than 3 months since Jesse Watlington's death. The case is now in court and both sides are battling it out.
Since the day his son Jesse was struck and killed by lighting, Chuck Watlington has been searching for answers.
Chuck Watlington: "That's all I want is justice for my son."
11 year old Jesse was taking the field for football practice last October when a bolt of lightning struck him in the chest....he died in a hospital four days later.
Although McGregor Baptist and Senior Pastor Richard Powell held vigils offering prayers of support, Chuck says since then the tides have turned.
Chuck Watlington: "He basically would snub me every time I would see him."
Last November the Watlingtons filed a lawsuit hoping to get answers....they claim the church was negligent for not having coaches certified in CPR, not having a defribulator or lightning detector on the field that stormy day.
Chuck Watlington: "What the coaches and the children are saying is totally different than what was reported by the Senior Pastor to the media."
And Chuck says while Jesse was still in the hospital, Pastor Powell opened an account for the Watlington's medical bills called "Jesse's Fund". Chuck says the church gave his family a total of 27-thousand dollars.
Mike Mason: "Have they paid all the medical bills?"
Chuck Watlington: "No, in matter of fact none of them."
In the Watlington's lawsuit they demand to know how much the church actually collected. In court records the church contends the family has no legal right to that information, saying: "There is no evidence that any type of contract or other agreement was ever entered into between the (Defendant) Church and the (Plaintiffs) Watlingtons regarding 'Jesse's Fund'."
Pastor Powell says he can't comment, and court records speak for themselves....but for Chuck that's not enough.
Chuck Watlington: “They're just not a holding to what they said."
Mike Mason: “You're not happy about it.”
Chuck Watlington: “No"
In the church's response to the lawsuit they're requesting to have most allegations dismissed...including claims of neglect and liability. The Watlington's say they won't agree to any financial settlement out of court - they plan to take this lawsuit to trial.