SANTA ANA — The mother of late Olympic sprint champion Florence Griffith Joyner filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week against her son-in-law, Al Joyner, in what she said is part of an escalating family dispute over control of the famed runner's legacy.
The four-page complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court includes few specific allegations other than the charge that Joyner failed to "exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk of harm" to his wife and that "harmful or offensive touching" caused her death.
An Orange County coroner's report completed shortly after Griffith Joyner's death in September 1998 at age 38 concluded that she suffered an epileptic seizure in her sleep and suffocated. The autopsy found no indications of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
"We're standing by our autopsy," said Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo.
Al Joyner could not be reached for comment. The plaintiff, 69-year-old Florence Griffith, declined to speak directly about the lawsuit but said it stems in part from a dispute with Joyner over his decision to start a foundation in his wife's honor.