Torts II, Pages 603–605

Selders v. Armentrout

Supreme Court of Nebraska, 1973

Facts:

Three children were killed in an automobile accident due to defendant's negligent conduct. The parents sued for wrongful death.

Issue:

What damages are in a wrongful death case for children?

Procedural History:

Trial court said medical and funeral costs plus expected benefits minus costs

Plaintiff's Argument:

The loss of the society, comfort, and companionship are compensable, as well as amounts invested or expended

Reasoning:

Children used to have to work on the farm or in the factories. Now that is not usually expected, so they are not highly valued in that respect and actually cost parents money. This would imply that children have a negative worth to their parents. Children should be more valued than that.

Rule/Holding:

[T]he measure of damages for the wrongful death of a minor child should be extended to include the loss of the society, comfort, and companionship of the child.

Judgment:

Affirmed.

Dissenting Opinion:

White: The majority throws out 50 years of law without even a public hearing. It opens the doors to emotion and sentiment.

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