RICHMOND, Texas --The family of a sheriff's deputy who died five years ago in the line of duty is being sued by Fort Bend County in Texas.
Deputy J.D. Norsworthy was critically injured Dec. 27, 2010, after swerving to avoid traffic on his way to back up a fellow officer. Norsworthy died days later after hitting a tree and flipping his patrol car.
In the time since Norsworthy's death, the county has never tried to recover reimbursement for his medical bills or lost wages. Only now, after his daughter Kaitlyn Norsworthyy settled with the party deemed liable for the crash, has the county sued Kaitlyn Norsworthy, her brother and her mother Melissa Norsworthy.
"Why would you make it even worse? There are no words for it. It's just wrong," said Kaitlyn Norsworthy.
She was 13 years old when her father was killed. Five years later, Kaitlyn Norsworthy said she still has trouble with post-traumatic stress disorder because she and her mother happened to drive up upon the crash moments after it occurred.
She said the images still haunt her.
"You know, but you don't want to believe it," she said.
According to the lawsuit, Fort Bend County claimed it "has been deprived" and "is entitled to the first monies paid by any third party."
It lists that amount at nearly $300,000.
"We're obligated to file that suit to make reasonable recovery," Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert said, although he acknowledged it may not be a popular decision. "It puts us in an unusual predicament, but we have to look to the taxpayers first and protect their money if at all possible."
Kaitlyn Norsworthy and her mother said they were stunned. Melissa Norsworthy said she and J.D. Norsworthy were to celebrate their 20th anniversary the year he was killed.
She called the county's lawsuit disrespectful.
"We don't understand why it is coming to this. Why have we reached this point? I think it's disrespectful," she said. "It's a slap in the face."
The attorney representing the Norsworthy family said there was a statute of limitations, which prohibits the county from filing the suit against the family and stated that expired after two years.