Domonique “Nikki” Smith

Today, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the wrongful death lawsuit against megachurch, Family Christian Center and its pastors, Steve and Melodye Munsey may proceed.

In November 2016, Vicki Olds sued the Munster church and its pastors for the June 1, 2015 death of her 18-year-old daughter, Domonique “Nikki” Smith. Nikki babysat the Munseys’ 6-year-old granddaughter. On May 29, 2015, Nikki, a certified lifeguard, and the six-year-old were playing in the pool. A surveillance video captures the young girl going inside the Munsey home at approximately 3:10 p.m. returning with her grandmother, Melodye Munsey, two minutes later. On the surveillance video, Munsey is observed walking around the pool and placing her hand in the water but she did not try to rescue Nikki. According to the 911 records, Melodye Munsey reported the suspected drowning at 3:15 p.m. where she said, “I think there’s someone drowned in the pool.” Paramedics arrived on the scene at 3:24 p.m. and resuscitated the 18-year-old babysitter. Smith was transported to St. Margaret in Dyer where she never regained consciousness. On June 1, 2015, Smith died.

The Church and its pastors claimed the lawsuit was frivolous and tried to have it dismissed. Lake Superior Court Chief Judge, John R. Pera ruled in favor of Olds and the Munseys appealed last September. After seven months, the Court of Appeals affirmed Pera’s ruling and the case can proceed. (Read the Court’s Opinion). “Our client is relieved about the appellate court ruling,” said Trent A. McCain, one of the family’s attorneys. “As a mother who lost her only child, we are delighted that she will have her day in court to hold those responsible to account,” McCain added.

The next court date in Lake Superior Court has not been scheduled.