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Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Case of Teen Killed for an IPhone Finished

DALLAS (CN) - Though she will never get the money, a Dallas County judge awarded $50 million to the mother of a teenager who was dragged to death by a train after four teenagers beat him up and tried to steal his iPhone.

Dallas County Judge Martin Hoffman on Sept. 19 granted Takeysha Keys' motion for default judgment against Verendez Gage, Cortney Woods, Daymion Savannah and Royneco Harris. She sued the four attackers and train operator Dallas Area Rapid Transit in 2013 for wrongful death and negligence.

The individual defendants were 12 to 15 years old when they attacked Octavius Lanier on Nov. 22, 2011 as he rode a light rail train to the Martin Luther King DART station in east Dallas.

Keys said the train conductor sped away from the station rather than call for help or stop the beating as her son became pinned between the train and platform.

"As the DART train left the station, Octavius' leg became caught between the train and the station platform," the complaint stated. "The DART train conductor failed to assure conditions were safe before driving the train from the MLK station. Octavius was dragged over 30 feet by the train, severing his femoral artery," killing him.

Keys said the transit authority knew that violent crimes were increasing on its network that year.

Keys settled her claims against DART on Aug. 12. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Her judgment against the four attackers is largely symbolic, as they are all incarcerated and unlikely to ever satisfy the judgment.

The attackers "acted in concert with one another to engage in murder/and or aggravated assault" that proximately caused Keys' damages, Hoffman wrote in his final judgment.

In her August motion for default judgment, Keys asked for $5 million for mental anguish, $10 million for future mental anguish, $5 million for loss of companionship, $10 million for future loss of companionship and $20 million in punitive damages.

Judge Hoffman approved each amount.

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