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Decapitated Ugandan activist’s family wins lawsuit after park accident

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Family of a Ugandan human rights activist killed in a horrific accident at a Utah national park will receive more than $10 million in damages from the U.S. government, a federal judge ruled Monday.

The amount was substantially less than pursued, but attorneys representing Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo’s family celebrated the win and said it was the largest federal wrongful death verdict in the state’s history.

In November 2020, Nakajjigo’s family filed a more than $270 million wrongful death and personal injury claim against the National Park Service after she was decapitated by an unsecured gate at Arches National Park.

Nakajjigo, 25, and her new husband Ludovic “Ludo” Michaud, 26, were driving to get ice cream during a June 13, 2020 camping trip when a metal gate blew closed in strong winds and sliced through the side of their car “like a hot knife through butter,” according to the administrative claim, which was filed in October. The gate narrowly missed Michaud.

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