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As the court interprets La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315, the term "surviving" has reference to survival in fact, in point of actual time, not survival of the accident. As harsh as the result seems to be, that is the result dictated by the clear meaning of the article. The jurisprudence cited above has so interpreted the article.
A tractor-trailer unit jackknifed on the highway and collided with a vehicle driven by Michael Lawrence Blanchard. Michael died instantly as a result of injuries received in the collision. Michael’s wife, Cheryl Verret Blanchard, also died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision, but she exhibited some sign of life, a heartbeat, for a period of time after Michael's death. There were no children of the marriage of Michael and Cheryl. The parents of Michael brought a wrongful death action and a survival action arising from Michael’s death. The defendants filed exceptions of no right of action grounded on the contention that plaintiffs have no right of action under LSA-C.C. art. 2315. According to the defendants, Michael’s wife survived him, and therefore, she acquired the right to assert a survival action for his death and a wrongful death action for her personal damages sustained from his loss. Furthermore, the defendants asserted that the rights passed to Cheryl Verret Blanchard's parents by inheritance when she died some minutes after Michael. The trial court sustained the exception, and dismissed the action. Plaintiff parents appealed.
Under the circumstances, could Michael’s parents pursue a wrongful death action against the defendants?
The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, dismissing the decedent's parents' wrongful death action arising out of a vehicular collision. As the court interpreted La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315, the term "surviving" had reference to survival in fact, in point of actual time, not survival of the accident. The court was compelled to conclude that, in actual fact, the decedent's wife survived the decedent. Therefore, decedent's wife was the surviving beneficiary under art. 2315. The decedent's wife's parents could pursue a wrongful death action, but the decedent's parents could not.