Thursday, December 22, 2016
WRONGFUL DEATH: Personal representative may sue self for damages for wrongful death of the decedent. The decedent died from injuries suffered in a one-vehicle motor vehicle accident. The decedent’s common law spouse was the driver. The spouse was appointed as the personal representative. Then, as the sole heir and personal representative of the estate, she brought suit against herself as an individual under both Utah’s wrongful death and survival action statutes. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the actions on the ground that the statutes and public policy prevent a person from suing herself. On appeal the Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plain language of the statutes permits a person acting as an heir or personal representative to sue him or herself as an individual for damages; that this reading of the statutes does not lead to an absurd result requiring judicial modification of the statutory text and that there is no gap in the statutory scheme requiring the court to rewrite the statutes based on public policy. Bagley v. Bagley, No. 20150182, 2016 WL 6299507 (Utah Oct. 27, 2016).
Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.