Thursday, December 27, 2012

Second Department Considers Wrongful Death Claims Brought By Siblings And Nephew

In Johnson v. Richmond University Medical Center, the plaintiffs brought a medical malpractice and wrongful death action to recover for their decedent's death from surgical complications. The plaintiffs were the decedent's three living siblings and nephew, who was the son of a predeceased brother. Under the wrongful death claims, the plaintiffs sought to recover funeral expenses and other pecuniary losses. Notably, the Second Department dismissed the claim for funeral expenses because the plaintiffs had been reimbursed for those costs by a family friend, and thus the plaintiffs had no pecuniary losses on that claim.  

With respect to the remaining wrongful death claims, the Second Department held that the defendant failed to meet its burden to dismiss claims by the decedent’s adult sisters. The court noted that the decedent often took care of one sister’s house and regularly gave her money, and babysat the other sister's children. The Second Department did modify to dismiss the wrongful death claims by the decedent's brother and nephew because the defendants showed there was no pecuniary loss and plaintiffs failed to raise an issue of fact on that ground.

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