SW Legal studies in Business

Loss of Consortium Measure Goes Beyond the Life of the Party Who Died
Description

Kentucky high court held that when measuring the value of the loss of consortium when a spouse dies from negligence, the consortium does not only include the time of incapacity before death but the value of the loss of consortium after death.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Wrongful Death; Negligence; Loss of Consortium

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Mrs. Shreve was in a car accident and was taken to a hospital. While she did not look too bad, she had suffered blunt trauma and went from normal blood pressure to being in shock. The emergency room doctor and nurse suspected internal bleeding that required a surgeon. No surgeon was available at the hospital and one was not called. A CT scan was done and the films were sent to another hospital to be read. After four hours it was decided to transfer to another hospital, but she was dead before she got to that hospital. Her husband sued for medical negligence. The doctor settled the case before trial; the case against the hospital proceeded. The jury awarded her husband $250,000 for loss of consortium, the maximum allowed by Kentucky law. That award was for the loss of consortium during the few hours she lived after the accident. The court of appeals overturned that verdict, holding that such payment for that time period was not permissible. The husband appealed.

Decision

Reversed; verdict reinstated. Loss of consortium damages, under a statute providing that a wife or husband may recover damages against a third party for loss of consortium, resulting from a negligent or an intentional act, do not end at death of the injured spouse. That was the traditional rule, but it is a rule that will no longer apply in Kentucky. Hence, the husband can recover for the loss of consortium that occurred after Mrs. Shreve’s death; the verdict need not cover the time between when she was injured in an accident and when she died. As such, the damages are not unreasonable and are upheld.

Citation Martin v. Ohio County Hospital Corp., ---S.W.3d--- (2009 WL 3161375, Sup. Ct., Ky., 2009)

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