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Wrongful death lawsuit settled between former state Sen. Regola and family of late teen

October 6, 2018

Former state Sen. Robert Regola

A settlement has been reached in decade-old wrongful death lawsuit accusing a former state senator of negligence in connection in the death of his 14-year-old neighbor.

Court records show the case against Robert Regola, his wife, Janette, and their son, Robert “Bobby” Regola IV, concluded this week with a confidential settlement among the former neighbors. Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Marsili sealed terms of the agreement, keeping them secret from the public.

Neither Regola nor his lawyer could be reached for comment on Thursday.

Louis Farrell, 14, was found dead in July 2006 with a gunshot wound to his head. Bobby Regola discovered the body in a wooded section of his family’s backyard on Glenmeade Road in Hempfield. A 9mm Taurus handgun belonging to the senator was found next to Farrell.

Coroner Ken Bacha ruled the death a suicide, saying evidence indicated the teen died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Farrell family disagreed and said there was no evidence the boy was suicidal.

During the lawsuit as well as two criminal cases that resulted from the incident, the Farrells contended someone else was in the woods when Farrell was shot, possibly Regola’s son, who was 16 at the time. The Farrells claimed the Regolas were at fault for their son’s death by leaving an unsecured gun in the home and allowing juveniles access to the weapon.

“Obviously, they are happy to have the wrongful death lawsuit completed and to be done with this chapter. Now they can only have good memories of Louis,” said Jon Perry, the Farrells’ attorney.

Because settlement details are confidential, Perry said he was unable to disclose financial terms of the deal.

Regola was serving his first and only term in the state Senate at the time of the incident. He has long denied any wrongdoing in connection with the death.

Farrell entered the Regola home to feed their dog and found the unsecured gun stored under a bed, police said.

Regola told police he brought the weapon home to scare transients away from his backyard.

The gun, police contended, was not properly stored in the Regola home despite the senator’s claim that it was locked away.

District Attorney John Peck charged Regola with weapons offenses and perjury. A jury found Regola not guilty of both offenses.

Regola’s son was convicted as a juvenile with a gun possession offense and served probation.

Perry said the lawsuit was about more than just the death of the Farrells’ son.

“They are happy they stood up for what they felt was irresponsible gun ownership. They are not against guns but believe if you own a gun, you do it responsibly,” Perry said.

The Farrells and Regolas continued living next to one another for 12 years after the death. In August, the Regolas paid $825,000 for a new home in North Huntingdon, real estate records show. They have since moved, Perry said.

“They put their house on the market before the case was resolved,” he said. “We were going to seek that they do that as part of the settlement.”

Robert Regola now serves as president and chief operating officer of his own government lobbying and consulting firm.

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