BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The estate of a developmentally disabled woman who was murdered by her own mother can sue Erie County, an appellate court has ruled.
Terry Connors, who represents the estate of Laura Cummings, tells News 4 an appellate court has overturned a decision that prevented the estate from suing Erie County over her murder and the heinous acts proceeding it.
In July 2012, State Supreme Court Justice Diane Devlin ruled that Erie County and the sheriff’s office could not be held liable, but now the Appellate Division out of Rochester says the county and sheriff’s office can be sued, concluding that the claims for “negligent hiring, training, and supervision…were not beyond the scope of plaintiff’s notices of claim.”
Cummings was 23-years-old when she was raped and tortured by her half-brother, Luke Wright, in their North Collins home before being brutally murdered by her mother, Eva Cummings in January of 2010.
The estate is looking to sue Erie County Adults Protective Services, which lawyers argue should have done more to protect the physically and mentally challenged woman.
“The most important part about this decision is that the case has been returned to the trial court and now we can proceed to discovery, get a chance, to ask these people under oath why they did what they did, or didn’t do what they should have done,” says Connors.
Family friend, Caroline Lee, thinks Erie County Adult Protective Services should have known about the abuse by Laura’s mother.
“They should’ve, they had to know, but to me in this world today, nobody wants to be bothered.”
Laura’s brother, Edward Overmoyer, knows that money can’t bring his sister back.
“We all know that, my family knows that, but we just want justice, want to see justice done, that’s the bottom line.”
Another brother, Richard Cummings, lived out of town and called Erie County from North Carolina to try to stop what he knew was abuse. He’s relived that this civil case can move forward.
“What it would mean to me is that I’d be happy to have people understand that they need to take their jobs more serious and do what they need to do, not just collect a paycheck and everyone’s tax money.”
Erie County officials declined comment about this ruling because it still involves pending litigation.