Howard Frank v. Superior Court of Ariz

In Howard Frank v. Superior Court of Ariz., 150 Ariz. 228, 722 P.2d 955 (1986), parents of an adult child brought a loss of consortium action against a doctor, alleging negligent administration of anesthesia caused their child severe brain damage. The Arizona Supreme Court reasoned that the common-law basis for the development of the claim was the relegation of a child's role as servant to the father. Id. at 959. The element of damages at common law was the father's loss of services and wages resulting from injury to a minor child. The court observed that today the laws against child labor virtually guarantees "that children will not be an economic asset of their parents." Ibid. It pointed out that the emotional loss associated with loss of consortium has replaced the loss of services and earnings as the significant action in favor of parents. Ibid. The court recognized that age distinction is no longer justified, given the demise of the master-servant rationale which spawned the common law. Id. at 959-60. In reaching its conclusion to permit the cause of action, the Arizona Supreme Court also indicated that it did not "believe that increased litigation will be a problem because in the vast majority of cases involving injury to a child the injury will not be so severe that the parents suffer a loss of society and companionship." Id. at 960.