Law School Case Brief
Still v. Baptist Hosp., Inc. - 755 S.W.2d 807 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1988)
Several states have stated that a child has the same interest in the consortium of a parent as spouses have in each other, and have permitted recovery for its loss. The vast majority of courts, however, have refused to recognize the cause of action. The courts of Tennessee hold that the issue is best left to the consideration of the legislature.
The plaintiff, Erica Mae Still, a minor, brought suit by her next friend and grandmother, Florence Faye Erlandson, to recover damages for the loss of services, care, society, companionship, love, and support her mother would otherwise have given her. The complaint alleged that the mother was mentally and physically disabled through the negligence of defendants, obstetrician and hospital. Defendants moved to dismiss the claim under Tenn. R. Civ. Proc. 12.02(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The trial judge dismissed the complaint, and the plaintiff appealed.
Did the plaintiff’s suit fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted?
The Court noted that a cause of action for loss of parental consortium had not previously been recognized in Tennessee; and as such, the Court ruled that the question of extending the cause of action should be left to the consideration of the legislature. The court reasoned that if children could recover damages, it was difficult to deny the equally compelling logic and justice of allowing other relatives, friends, and even employees to recover damages on the same grounds.
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