Two years after her daughter’s death, Brittany Murphy’s mom has no intention of letting anyone off the hook.
She has filed a lawsuit against the attorneys that represented her in a suit against the builders of the home where the actress died, claiming the lawyers never told her about a possible wrongful death suit due to mold in the house.
Brittany died of pneumonia in 2009 and just months later her husband suffered the same fate.
In a complaint filed Monday, Sharon Murphy charges the firm of Steiner & Libo with legal malpractice, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty for not properly informing her that in January 2011 – when she accepted the final settlement of that earlier lawsuit – she was giving up her right to sue for the wrongful death of her daughter due to the presence of mold in the 13-year-old, 8,000-square-foot-home.
Sharon Murphy claims the people who built the house are to blame for the mold that caused their illnesses. In a new lawsuit, Sharon alleges she was misled by her lawyers and tricked into giving up her rights to sue the builders for wrongful death.
The suit says that the law firm that was first hired in early 2009 “should have known that Brittany and Simon had died and that their deaths were the result of complications from conditions associated with the subject property,“ the suit alleges. The law firm “had a duty to advise and/or inform (Sharon Murphy) that she may have had a wrongful death claim.”
Sharon has hired a new attorney to sue her former ones for legal malpractice and demanding they pay her what she could have won in a wrongful death suit.
Sharon and Brittany Murphy had purchased the five-bedroom home from singer Britney Spears in June 2003 for $3.85 million. Spears for a time lived there with Justin Timberlake until their relationship ended.
On December 20, 2009, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to “a medical request” at the Los Angeles home Murphy and Monjack shared. She had apparently collapsed in a bathroom. Firefighters attempted to resuscitate Murphy on the scene. She was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead on arrival at 10:04 after going into cardiac arrest.
Shortly after her death, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told the Associated Press: “It appears to be natural.” An autopsy was performed on December 21, 2009. Her death certificate listed the cause of death as “deferred”.
Later the Los Angeles County coroner stated that the primary cause of Murphy’s death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication. Murphy was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on December 24, 2009.
Five months later her widower Simon Monjack was found dead at the same Hollywood Hills residence. In July 2010, Los Angeles Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter stated that the cause of his death was acute pneumonia and severe anemia.
It was reported that the Los Angeles County Department of Health had considered toxic mold in their house as a possible cause of the deaths, but this was dismissed by Ed Winter, who stated that there were “no indicators” that mold was a factor.
Murphy’s mother Sharon described the reports as “absurd”, saying that the house had never been inspected for mold.
Sharon Murphy had been very close with her daughter, who became a TV and movie star as a teenager, and starred in such movies as Clueless, 8 Mile and Just Married. After Brittany married Monjack in 2007, the three resided in the big house together.
In January 2010, TMZ reported that Sharon Murphy was facing a possible foreclosure on the property. After negotiations, there was no foreclosure action. In July, the property was sold for $2.7 million, according to a report filed with Los Angeles County.
In the final weeks she owned the house, Sharon Murphy moved to a hotel because of her concern about the mold problem. She has since moved to another residence. [via Huffington Post, E! Online and The Holywood Reporter]