Wrongful death lawsuit filed in pond drowning death of Indianapolis father

Suit targets apartments, vehicle manufacturer

INDIANAPOLIS--  The family of a 3-year-old girl who lost her father to drowning has filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex and car manufacturer, alleging they are responsible for the death.

Anthony Burgess Jr., 24, died on March 26 after jumping into a pond after his car rolled in with his daughter Amina Garrett inside.

Amina survived, and her father has been honored as a hero.

His family filed a wrongful death suit on April 13 against Core Riverbend Apartments, Core Realty Holding Management, Inc. and General Motors Corporation.

Their attorney Dan Chamberlain used a basketball to demonstrate what he calls a safety concern at the apartment complex—a sloping parking lot with nothing to prevent a car from rolling into the pond below.

“There’s no warning signs, no barriers, there’s nothing to help people,” said Chamberlain. “There needs guards and warning signs. If you look at this apartment complex, there’s one stair case to get out of the retention pond, and unfortunately my client was not able to get to the stair case.”

The lawsuit says the apartment complex had a duty to protect Anthony from bodily injury or death on its premises.

Anthony’s vehicle, a 2008 Pontiac G6, was also to blame, Chamberlain said.

Call 6 Investigates ran the VIN on the car and found an unfixed recall for a defect that could cause it to roll away even if the shifter is in park.

“The family was not aware of the recall,” said Chamberlain, who bought the car used.

The family is suing General Motors, saying it was aware of the “dangerous and defective product it manufactured.”

"GM and other companies need to do more to make sure people drive safe cars, and this was not a safe car,” Chamberlain said. “If people knew their car would kill them, would they drive the car? No."

According to Carfax, currently one out of every five cars on Indiana roads have an unfixed recall on them, adding up to more than 1.2 million vehicles.

The defects can be dangerous and put your life at risk, according to Chris Basso with Carfax.

"These are cars that are in use that you could be behind the wheel of right now or that you could be laying down your hard-earned money on," said Basso.

It’s easy to miss a recall notice in the mail, and you may not get one if you’re the second or third owner of the vehicle.

“The longer those parts go unfixed, it increases the likelihood that the part could fail and injury, crash and even death because of that recall,” said Basso. “The manufacturer wants to make sure the car to make sure it's safe and they want to do it for free."

The Burgess family is still reeling from the loss of Anthony.

“The family is absolutely devastated,” said Chamberlain. “You have three kids without a dad. Was it preventable? Absolutely yes.” 

Call 6 Investigates reached out to General Motors and Core Riverbend Apartments for their response to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for General Motors said they had not been served and could not comment.

We left a business card at the apartment complex and we are still waiting for a statement.

Anthony Burgess, Sr. and Amina Garrett are listed as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Does Your Car Have a Recall?

  • Go to the federal government’s website SaferCar.gov and put in your VIN (or call 1-888-327-4236)
  • Go to the MyCarfax app and put in your license plate number
  • Go to sites like Autocheck and put in your VIN-If a recall pops up, call your dealer or manufacturer to set up an appointment to get your vehicle fixed
  • Bring your recall letter or postcard with you, if you have one
  • Use free tools to stay up to date on recalls such as CarfaxAutocheck and NHTSA:
  • Report a safety problem with your vehicle with NHTSA
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