California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377 - Interpretation

In Perry v. Medina, 192 Cal. App. 3d at p. 610, the court concluded that "a parent cannot claim they are dependent within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 377 if they receive financial support from their children which merely makes available to them some of the niceties of life they might not otherwise be able to afford. But, if a parent receives financial support from their child which aids them in obtaining the things, such as shelter, clothing, food and medical treatment, which one cannot and should not do without, the parent is dependent upon their child. The death of that child in this type of situation results in a distinct pecuniary loss to the parent which requires the parent to find aid elsewhere for the basic things we all need." (Ibid.) After setting forth its test for dependency, the court in Perry v. Medina applied that test to the facts before it. There, the appellant was a mother claiming status as a dependent parent. She "lived on a meager $ 400 a month. Decedent brought her $ 100 worth of groceries a month. They both ate from the groceries he brought. After he moved out of the apartment and stopped paying $ 100 a month in rent, decedent gave her $ 50 a month in addition to the groceries. Although in this day and time $ 50 a month and some food to eat may seem like a very small amount, its value is greatly increased when viewed in the perspective that appellant lived on $ 400 a month, $ 200 of which paid her rent." ( Perry v. Medina, supra, 192 Cal. App. 3d at p. 610.) Given those facts, the court concluded that a triable issue was presented on the question of the mother's dependence. (Ibid.)