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Lawsuit filed against grandparents of teen blamed in Plant High senior's heroin death

Cliff and Dawn Golden have filed a lawsuit in connection with the overdose death of their 17-year-old daughter Katie Golden. The teen was a senior at Plant High. [Times (2017)]
Published Apr. 19

TAMPA — The parents of a Plant High School cheerleader who died in 2017 from a heroin overdose have filed a lawsuit against the grandparents of the young man accused of causing her death.

Katie Golden was 17 when she died two years ago.

Her former boyfriend, Titan Goodson, later told detectives that they had snorted heroin together at his home. A grand jury last year indicted Goodson on a manslaughter charge.

While the criminal case against him remains pending, Golden's parents, Dawn and Clifford Golden, filed their lawsuit last week in Hillsborough Circuit Court. The defendants include prominent Tampa attorney Sherman Brod and his wife, Sandra, who are Goodson's grandparents.

The complaint accuses them of allowing Goodson to possess drugs in the Harbor Island condominium where he lived with them. It also says they invited Golden into their home for a "social gathering" the night before she died.

READ MORE: Parents of Plant High cheerleader urge others to learn from her death by heroin overdose

Sherman Brod declined to comment Friday morning, saying he had not yet seen the complaint.

The lawsuit also seeks damages from the couple who own the Harbour Island condominium where Golden died.

Sandra Brod told detectives that her grandson had lived with her and her husband since the boy was 6, according to a Tampa police report of the death investigation. She said Goodson stayed with them because his father had substance abuse problems.

The grandmother told police that she was afraid of Goodson because "he is a strong young man and treats her poorly," a detective wrote in the report. He would not let his grandparents into his room and they planned to make him move out once he turned 18. She said she suspected Goodson used drugs, but she had never caught him with any illegal substances, the report stated. Goodson told police that he and Golden dated, but they had broken up. They were together the night of April 14, 2017, and snorted heroin together, according to the police report. Goodson denied giving her the heroin. They both fell asleep. He said she woke at about midnight and could not get her to wake up, so he put ice packs on her body. When he checked her again at 5:30 a.m., her fingernails were blue and she wasn't breathing, the report stated. He then woke his grandfather. Paramedics took Golden to Tampa General Hospital. She died there four days later, a mo nth beefore she was scheduled to graduate from high school.

Golden's death became a flashpoint amid the broader struggle against the opioid crisis. In a visit to Tampa last year, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned her as he called attention to increased federal prosecutions for opioid-related crimes.

Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

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