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$10.5 million in damages awarded in Utah park decapitation death

Ludovic Michaud filed a lawsuit after his wife, Esther Nakajjigo, died when a metal gate swung into the couple's car as they were leaving Arches National Park.

GRAND COUNTY, Utah — A judge awarded more than $10 million in damages to the husband and parents of a woman who was decapitated by a metal gate at Arches National Park in Utah in 2020.

Ludovic Michaud of Denver was awarded $9.5 million in the death of his wife, 25-year-old Esther Nakajjigo, court documents show. Her parents, Christine Namagembe and John Bosco Kateregga, were also awarded $700,000 and $350,000, respectively.

Nakajjigo died when a metal gate swung into their car as she and her husband were leaving the park on June 13, 2020.

> The video above is from November 2020.

The claim said the gate was left open and unrestrained, causing major damage to the hood and the front passenger fender, door and window. It also said that an $8 padlock or proper maintenance would have prevented the death.

Court documents show the United States conceded fault, apologized for its actions and acknowledged it alone was responsible for Nakajjigo's death. However, the U.S. and the plaintiffs were not able to agree on suitable damages.

Michaud sought nearly $160 million in damages, her mother sought $9.5 million and her father sought just over $1 million in damages. The U.S. argued damages for all plaintiffs should total $3.5 million.


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