2006-02-09 / News

Trial in wrongful death lawsuit starts Monday

By Dotti Farrington

The civil trial in the case of a wrongful death suit against businessman and former Town Councilman David Swain of Jamestown is scheduled to start Monday, Feb. 13, before Associate Justice Patricia A. Hurst in Providence Superior Court. The trial will begin with the seating of jurors.

The case against Swain was filed March 5, 2002 by retired professor Richard Tyre of Jamestown, who is claiming that Swain is responsible for the death of Shelley Arden Tyre, 46, Swain’s wife and Tyre’s daughter. She drowned March 12, 1999, while she and her husband were scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands.

Tyre’s wife Lisa is not a coplaintiff, but she said at the time of filing that she concurs with his suit.

Last week, the court accepted the request of Swain’s lawyers to withdraw from the case. Swain advised the court in writing that he did not intend to present or cross examine witnesses.

Court records also show that Swain filed for bankruptcy this past October.

Tyre’s lawyer, Renn Olenn of Warwick, said a judgment in the wrongful death case would not be protected by bankruptcy status and would be valid for 20 years, with options for renewal.

Shelley Tyre’s estate has been frozen pending judgments in the court cases. Shelley Tyre had no children. She named Swain’s two children from a previous marriage as secondary beneficiaries in her will.

Swain countersued his fatherin law in April, 2002, for defamation because Tyre said Swain had murdered Shelley for her money on a March 2002 television broadcast.

Tyre’s lawyer said that Swain had caused the suit to be continued since 2002, and it was again delayed when Swain filed for bankruptcy. Tyre’s lawyer said he had the bankruptcy stay on court action dismissed because the bankruptcy would not affect or be affected by the wrongful death judgment.

Tyre’s lawyer said Swain’s countersuit is also pending. The outcome of that case rests on the judgment in the wrongful death case, Olenn said. The lawyer suggested that the countersuit will be dismissed if Swain does not present a defense in the wrongful death trial.

Tyre’s lawyer said he was prepared to present Tyre’s case in a substantial way, calling on expert witnesses from the Virgin Islands, California, and Florida, including the Dade County Miami medical examiner. He estimated that presenting his case would take five to seven court days.

Tyre’s lawyer said an important factor in such a civil trial is that the defendant is not entitled to a presumption of innocence and is not entitled to a public defender.

Tyre’s lawyer said Tyre is asking for monetary damages, which would be set by the jury, that represent his daughter’s loss of income as well as punitive damages resulting from Swain being found responsible for her death directly or contributing to her death.

Swain was contacted by the Press, but declined to comment on the suit.

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