FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas --Fort Bend County is suing the widow and children of a sheriff's deputy who died five years ago in the line of duty.
Deputy J.D. Norsworthy was critically injured December 27, 2010, after swerving to avoid traffic on his way to back up a fellow officer. He hit a tree on FM 762 near Benton Road and flipped his patrol car. Days later, he died.
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 Norsworthy's daughter Kaitlyn has settled with the party deemed liable for the wreck, has the county sued Kaitlyn, her brother and her mother.
"Why would you make it even worse? Theres 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 says she still has trouble with PTSD because she and her mother happened to drive up upon the wreck moments after it occurred. The images still haunt her.
"You know, but you don't want to believe it," she said.
According to the suit, Fort Bend claims 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," said Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert.
He knows 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," Hebert added.
Fort Bend County is self-insured.
Kaitlyn and her mother are stunned. Melissa Norsworthy said she and J.D. were to celebrate their 20th anniversary the year he was killed. She calls the county's suit hypocritical.
"We don't understand why it is coming to this. Why have we reached this point, I think its disrespectful," she said. "It's a slap in the face."
The attorney representing the Norsworthy's says there was a statute of limitations which prohibits the county from filing the suit against the family. That expired after two years.