Loss of Parental Consortium Cases

It is irrelevant that parents are not entitled to the services of their adult children; they continue to enjoy a legitimate and protectible expectation of consortium beyond majority arising from the very bonds of the family relationship. Surely nature recoils from the suggestion that the society, companionship and love which compose filial consortium automatically fade upon emancipation; while common sense and experience teach that the elements of consortium can never be commanded against a child's willat any age. The filial relationship, admittedly intangible, is ill-defined by reference to the ages of the parties and ill-served by arbitrary age distinctions. Some filial relationships will be blessed with mutual caring and love from infancy through death while others will always be bereft of those qualities. Therefore, to suggest as a matter of law that compensable consortium begins at birth and ends at age eighteen is illogical and inconsistent with common sense and experience. Human relationships cannot and should not be so neatly boxed. "The law does not fly in the face of nature, but rather acts in harmony with it." Harper v. Tipple, 21 Ariz. 41, 44, 184 P. 1005, 1006 (1919) Frank, 722 P.2d at 960. However, the Arizona Supreme Court also went on to discuss that Arizona's wrongful death statute does not distinguish between minor and adult children. Id. Similarly, several states which recognize either that a parent has a cause of action for loss of an adult child's consortium or that an adult child has a cause of action for loss of his or her parent's consortium do so based in part upon specific statutory authorization. Some other states recognizing the claim do so based upon the absence of any statutory limitation of the consortium claims to minors. As previously noted KRS 411.135 explicitly provides: See Jordan v. Three Rivers Hospital, 984 S.W.2d 593, 601 (Tenn. 1999), holding that Tennessee's wrongful death statute does not preclude either a minor child or an adult child from seeking compensation for loss of parental consortium; Nelson v. Four Seasons Nursing Center, 934 P.2d 1104 (Okla. App. 1996), holding that Oklahoma's wrongful death statute expressly allows recovery for the "loss of companionship of the children and parents of the decedent" without regard to the age of the claimant Id. at 1105; Sebastien v. McKay, 649 So. 2d 711 (La. Ct. App. 1994), holding that while claims for loss of consortium are usually made by minor children, Louisiana statutes offer relief without regard to the majority or minority of the party aggrieved; Masaki v. General Motors Corp., 71 Haw. 1, 780 P.2d 566 (1989), holding that Hawaii's wrongful death statute recognized a parent's cause of action for loss of an adult child's consortium; Audubon-Exira Ready Mix, Inc. v. Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Co., 335 N.W.2d 148 (Iowa 1983), did not rely on any statutory language, but concluded that the Iowa wrongful death statute did not limit a child's claim for loss of a parent's consortium to the period of the child's minority. Overruling Weitl v. Moes, 311 N.W.2d 259 (Iowa 1981). the courts in Reagan v. Vaughn, 804 S.W.2d 463 (Tex. 1990), and Ueland v. Reynolds Metals Co., 103 Wn.2d 131, 691 P.2d 190 (1984), recognized common law claims for loss of parental consortium by a minor child in negligent injury cases, and then gratuitously extended the cause of action to adult children. But see Mealey v. Marella, 328 N.J. Super. 129, 744 A.2d 1226 (N.J. Super Ct. Law Div. 1999), in which recently a New Jersey appellate court recognized a common law cause of action under which parents could claim loss of consortium caused by negligent injury to an adult child. Yet more recently, Mealey was overruled in part by Tynan v. Curzi, 332 N.J. Super. 267, 753 A.2d 187 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2000).