Facts:Petitioner Josie Armantrout filed a wrongful death suit against respondent Cascade Orthopedics and attending physician Robert Carlson after her daughter Kristen died of a pulmonary embolism two weeks after having surgery on her ankle. Josie has diabetes and is blind, and Kristen provided her mother with a variety of services which were valued at around $36,553 a year. The Superior Court for King County entered a judgment on a verdict against Cascade awarding damages to Josie of $1.15 million for being “substantially financially dependent on Kristen for support,” but did not find Carlson guilty of negligence. On Cascade’s appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed the judgment and remanded the case for a new trial on the wrongful death claim, holding that the trial court committed prejudicial error by instructing the jury that financial support of Josie by the deceased Kristen includes services having economic value in addition to purely monetary support. The Supreme Court of Washington granted Josie’s petition for review.
Question(s): Can the provision of services that have an economic value be considered by the trier of fact when determining if a parent is “dependent for support” on an adult child as required by RCW §4.20.020 to maintain an action for wrongful death?
Conclusion: Justice Madsen’s opinion for a unanimous Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, holding that by excluding the everyday services a child would routinely provide, the trial court clearly established the boundaries within which the jury would have been allowed to consider Josie’s financial dependence on valuable services. Finding that the trial court correctly stated RCW §4.20.020 as allowing triers of fact to consider services that have monetary value when assessing a claimant’s dependency on the decedent for support, the Court reinstated the Superior Court’s judgment.
Petitioner: Josie Armantrout
(Counsel: Simeon Osborn and Susan Machler)
Respondent: Robert Carlson
(Counsel: Steven F. Fitzer, Melanie T. Stella, And Timothy R. Gosselin)
- Answer to Petition for Review
- Appellant Brief
- Petition for Review
- Petitioners Supplemental Brief
- Reply to Answer to Petition for Review
- Respondent Brief
- Respondent's Answer to WSTLA Amicus
- Respondent's Response to Wsaj Amicus
- Respondents Supplemental Brief
- Response to Wsajf Amicus
- WSTLA Amicus
- Wsajf Amicus
Argument: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Opinion: 166 Wn.2d 931 (2009)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.