In the largest federal wrongful death verdict in Utah history, a judge awarded the family of Esther Nakajjigo more than $10 million in damages. Nakajjigo was killed near the entry to Arches National Park, when an unsecured gate swung into the road and collided with the car she was in on June 13, 2020, killing her instantly. 

In their legal complaint, Nakajjigo’s parents and newlywed husband, Ludovic Michaud, alleged that the National Park Service was negligent for not properly installing, maintaining, and securing the gate. Nakajjigo’s death, they said, could have been prevented with an $8 padlock, as NBC News reported. 

Government officials admitted fault in the death and apologized, but argued for a lower amount of damages. U.S. District Court Judge Bruce Jenkins wrote the ten-page verdict, evaluating the impact of Nakajjigo’s death on her husband and family. 

“There is genuinely no satisfactory metric to measure those losses with precision,” before awarding Michaud $9.5 million and Nakajjigo’s parents a total of $1,050,000.