Cruz v. Wright

In Cruz v. Wright, 765 P.2d 869 (Utah 1988), the Court considered whether the Married Women's Act of 1898 violated article I, section 11. The Court assumed that prior to the passage of the Married Women's Act, the common law rule applied allowing a husband a cause of action for loss of consortium against a third party who negligently injured his wife. The Married Women's Act, as interpreted by this court, eliminated the husband's remedy. The Court stressed that under the Berry test (Berry v. Beech), the legislature may eliminate or abrogate a cause of action entirely if there is sufficient reason and the elimination or abrogation is not an arbitrary or unreasonable means of achieving the objective. The Court wrote: "Therefore, even if a loss-of-consortium cause of action did exist at common law in Utah (and there is no evidence that such an action did exist), that would not prevent the legislature from modifying or abolishing that cause of action if necessary to serve sufficiently strong legislative ends. Having considered the question, we conclude that the passage of the Married Women's Act was a reasonable legislative enactment intended and reasonably tailored to place men and women on equal footing with respect to their ability to bring actions for their own injuries and to extinguish the concept that a wife was the property of her husband. If, in the process, the husband's right to sue for loss of his wife's consortium, which may have never existed in Utah, was abolished, we conclude that the abolition was not an unreasonable step." (Cruz, 765 P.2d at 871.)