Denton v. Superior Court (In re Denton)

In Denton v. Superior Court (In re Denton)(1997) 190 Ariz. 152, 156, 945 P.2d 1283, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded that Arizona's elder abuse statute allows recovery of damages for a decedent's pain and suffering despite that state's survival statute that otherwise would bar recovery of those damages. ( Id. 190 Ariz. at pp. 155-157.) Denton noted in part: "The legislature's intent and the policy behind the elder abuse statute are clear. Arizona has a substantial population of elderly people, and the legislature was concerned about elder abuse. In civil actions for elder abuse, pain and suffering may be the only compensable damages the victim may recover. Because incapacitated or vulnerable adults are not employed, they cannot recover damages for lost earnings or diminished earning capacity. Because incapacitated or vulnerable adults generally have Medicare, Medicaid coverage, or other insurance, they may not recover for medical expenses. . . . As a result, the most likely form of damages recoverable in these cases are for pain and suffering. Furthermore, most vulnerable or incapacitated adults are near the end of their lives. Under defendants' theory, the tortfeasor would have a great incentive to delay litigation until the victim dies. If we were to subscribe to defendants' theory, the policy of the elder abuse statute would not be furthered." ( Id. 190 Ariz. at pp. 156-157.)