Appellate Court Affirms No Cause of Action for Parent-Child Loss of Consortium Claim in California

In an unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a decision to refuse to recognize a child’s cause of action for loss of parental consortium.  Loss of consortium is a claim for damages asserted by a plaintiff, typically a spouse or family member.  The claim refers to the loss of emotional care, affection, and sex (spousal loss of consortium) suffered by a surviving family member. In some jurisdictions, courts recognize a child’s ability to bring a loss of consortium claim following the death of their parent. In this particular case, the appellate court turned to precedent, stating that the California Supreme Court had determined that there was no such cause of action.  Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the defendant ambulance company.

The facts of the lawsuit indicate that the victim’s car collided with an off-duty ambulance, and the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as other complications.  The victim’s infant daughter brought a lawsuit for loss of parental consortium against multiple defendants, including the driver of the ambulance and the ambulance company.   The defendants argued that a minor cannot bring a claim for loss of consortium suffered by a parent, and they demurred to the complaint.  The trial court sustained the demurrers and dismissed the minor’s complaint.

On appeal, the issue was whether California should reconsider a state Supreme Court case, Borer v. American Airlines, Inc., (1977) 19 Cal.3d 441, 444 (Borer).  In that case, a mother of nine children was injured by a falling light fixture in an airline terminal.  After the children sued the airline for loss of services, affection, and guidance, the California Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s grant of the airline’s demurrer, without leave to amend.

In Borer, the California Supreme Court had held that while monetary compensation is inadequate following a tragedy, there remained the “difficulty of measuring damages” and the dangers posed by imposing liability. The Court had held that there was no non-statutory cause of action for loss of parental consortium.

Here, the appellate court stated that the minor in this case recognized they were required to abide by the state Supreme Court’s holding. Despite this recognition, she argued that Borer should be overturned and that other states disagree with its holding.  She claimed that other states allow parent-child loss of consortium claims.  The appellate court stated that out-of-state authority lacks persuasive value when it is at odds with California law.

The court affirmed the judgment, stating that it is not their function to overrule Supreme Court decisions.

At Sharifi Firm, we help individuals and families of accident victims by advocating on their behalf and seeking compensation from the at-fault party or parties. Throughout Southern California, our car accident lawyers have extensive litigation and negotiation experience helping injured people pursue legal claims for damages.  To speak with an experienced attorney regarding your claim, call our office. We offer a complimentary, confidential consultation and can be reached at 1-866-422-7222 or through our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Child Assumed Risks Inherent in Skiing and Relatives Not Negligent, According to California Court of Appeal, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, April 10, 2017

California Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Beneficiaries’ Claims Following Fatal Aviation Collision; Failure to Allege Facts Supporting a Claim Mandates Dismissal, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 30, 2017

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