A judge approved the terms of a wrongful death suit alleging a St. Clair attorney and businessman was negligent in the death of a Union woman in Mexico.
Evalena Duncan was awarded $300,000 in the suit against John B. Loveless for the death of Tamra Turpin.
According to court records, Duncan and Loveless agreed to a settlement and a petition was filed in the Franklin County Circuit Court requesting a judge rule that the settlement is fair. The judge is charged with determining if the settlement is reasonable under the circumstances.
Associate Circuit Court Judge Dave Hoven agreed to the settlement Tuesday morning.
Turpin, 36, was found dead March 2, 2016, in a condo the couple had rented in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. A forensic examination concluded she died of asphyxia by strangulation. Loveless was acquitted by a Mexican tribunal in March 2017.
A check was issued to Duncan Tuesday by Billings Mutual Insurance. Duncan lives in Grand Prairie, Texas. She was being represented by Becker, Robinson & Brinkmann LLC, Union.
Jodi Mills, Turpin’s sister, told The Missourian she and another sister are not pleased with the settlement.
“Personally, I think $300,000 was a slap in the face,” she said. “Why did the judge say it was OK?
“I don’t think it should have taken place in Franklin County,” Mills added. “It should have been somewhere where (Loveless) does not have ties.”
According to Mills, her mother had asked for $1.2 million but was offered $300,000 to be paid by the insurance company.
She said her mother wanted the settlement to move quickly.
“I personally would not have settled,” Mills said. “I would have drug it out. I am not worried about the money.
“No amount of money would really be satisfying,” Mills added. “No amount can replace her — but I wanted it to come out of his pocket to affect him more.”
She stated an earlier court hearing was pushed back because Mills and her sister were asked to sign an agreement that they would not pursue additional money through a suit in Mexico.
Mills said no agreement was signed.
“Technically, in the United States we can’t do anything. My mom is the next of kin and only she has say so,” she commented. “My sister and I agreed not to mess with (another suit) at this time but we wanted to leave the option open.”
Mills said her family has not been contacted by Loveless.
“We need to hear an apology and that he did wrong,” she said. “He needs to take some responsibility. That would be the appropriate thing to do.”
Loveless was represented by Tyler J. Finnegan, St. Charles, and David P. Bub, with Brown and Janes PC, St. Louis.