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Murdered socialite's daughter files wrongful death lawsuit

Patricia M. Jarzobski

Legal repercussions over the murder of socialite Nancy Pfister continue. Her daughter, Juliana, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado against Nancy Masson-Styler, the woman she believes was complicit in the murder of her mother. The wrongful death lawsuit also claims that William Styler III, Masson-Styler's husband at the time of the murder, fraudulently confessed to the murder solely to keep his wife from standing trial for the crime.

Juliana's attorney noted that she has not filed the lawsuit for financial gain but as an effort to get justice for the murder of her mother she feels was not received from the court. Masson-Styler was released from prison after 107 days when her ex-husband formally confessed that he acted alone; in addition, prosecutors were said to lack sufficient evidence against her. The lawsuit also targets a novel Masson-Styler wrote about the murder, claiming that it defamed the character of the murder victim and her entire family.

The standard of proof required to win a civil case is not as challenging as that of a criminal case. Juliana and her attorney hope the evidence will prove Masson-Styler assisted Styler in committing the murder. Relying upon the testimony of a sheriff who responded to the scene, they assert that Styler could not have committed the murder without some help, due to the condition in which the victim was found.

Styler killed himself in prison nearly 14 months after his confession, leaving his ex-wife as the beneficiary of $1 million. Because of an earlier filing for protection from bankruptcy, Masson-Styler's attorney claims she may not have to pay on any monetary judgment awarded. He says it depends on the amount of an award, should there be one.

Surviving family members may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties thought to be responsible for a loved one's death. The act resulting in death does not have to be intentional, though evidence of negligence that caused or led to the fatality will be required. Personal injury attorneys experienced in handling Colorado wrongful death claims will be able to assist family members considering this option.

Source: summitdaily.com, "Wrongful death suit filed in Nancy Pfister murder in Aspen", Feb. 26, 2017

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