ILNews

Question remains as to whether son is ‘child’ under Wrongful Death Statute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendants on two parents’ claims under the Child Wrongful Death Statute regarding their 21-year-old son who died in a car accident. The appellate court found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the informal apprenticeship the son was participating in at the time of his death would be considered a vocational program under the CWDS.

Matthew Longest and his father Robert were involved in a car accident in 1998 with Lisa Sledge, resulting in Matthew Longest’s death and injuries to Robert Longest. The father, his wife Maribel – who is now deceased – and the son’s estate sued Sledge under the Child Wrongful Death Statute and the General Wrongful Death Statute, as well as sued for the father’s injuries and the mother’s loss of consortium. At the time of his death, Matthew Longest was studying under his father to be a journeyman mason through an informal, non-union apprentice.

The defendants sought partial summary judgment that the parents’ claims under the GWDS were limited to funeral, medical and administrative expenses because they were not their son’s dependent next of kin. The defendants also argued that Matthew Longest wasn’t a child under the CWDS because he wasn’t enrolled in a vocational program as required under the statute. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the defendants on these issues.

In Matthew Longest, Deceased, by Robert Longest, Adm. & Parent of Matthew Longest, & Robert Longest, Jr. Adm. of Maribel Longest, Deceased v. Lisa M. Sledge, minor & Roger Brown & Donna Sledge, 47A05-1211-CT-594, the Court of Appeals reversed regarding the claims under the CWDS, rejecting the defendants’ argument that Matthew Longest had to be enrolled in a formal program that incorporated some component of traditional classroom instruction. Thus, there is a question as to whether the son is considered a child under the CWDS.

The judges affirmed the ruling in favor of the defendants that Matthew Longest’s parents weren’t his dependent next of kin. The parents were unable to prove that although the son was living at home and paying rent to his parents, as well as performing household chores, this qualified as even a partial dependency on him by the parents. The COA concluded the son’s actions were the sort of kindness one expected of a son living under his parents’ roof.

The judges also affirmed the trial court’s decision to reduce the attorney fees awarded to the Longests to one-fourth of the total amount performed for the four claims they brought, as attorney fees were only awardable to the estate of Matthew Longest on its claim.
 
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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