Karen Irby recently settled with the families of the two doctors she struck and killed while driving under the influence in Jackson, Mississippi. The wrongful death settlement agreement is fairly short, but includes the intriguing stipulation that the plaintiffs pay Karen Irby’s debts. Paying a defendant’s debts is not a common requirement in personal injury settlements, but a settlement agreement can include any stipulation as long as it is not contrary to law or policy. A settlement is simply a contract between the two parties and can include various financial arrangements, confidentiality agreements and other conditions depending on the situation.
We cannot know for certain why the plaintiffs have agreed to pay Karen Irby’s debts, but my guess is that she had limited assets and limited insurance available to pay the plaintiffs’ wrongful death claims. By settling under conditions that are favorable to Karen Irby, the families’ personal injury lawyers are likely planning to use Karen Irby as a witness against her husband, Stuart Irby. Stuart Irby has more assets, so the plaintiffs should benefit financially by pursuing a civil claim against Stuart Irby separately. If the plaintiff’s attorneys had tried the wrongful death claim against both Stuart and Karen together, the two would probably have pointed the finger at each other. As it stands, I imagine that Karen Irby will be an aggressive witness against Stuart Irby.
This is all conjecture – there may be additional reasons for the settlement details. But whatever the reason, there is surely more civil litigation to come in the Irby wrongful death case.