Law School Case Brief
Thorn v. Mercy Mem'l Hosp. Corp. - 281 Mich. App. 644, 761 N.W.2d 414 (2008)
Because an action under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act (WDA), MCL 600.2922, grounded in medical malpractice is a medical malpractice action in which the plaintiff is allowed to collect damages related to the death of the decedent, to determine whether loss of service comprises an economic or noneconomic element of damage, courts look to MCL 600.1483 to discern the nature and character of the damages available to the plaintiff. MCL 600.1483(2) mandates that in awarding damages in an action alleging medical malpractice, the trier of fact shall itemize damages into damages for economic loss and damages for noneconomic loss. The Supreme Court of Michigan has determined that WDA cases arising in medical malpractice permit a plaintiff to receive damages awarded for loss of society and companionship and that such damages are noneconomic. MCL 600.1483(3) defines "noneconomic loss" as damages or loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, or other noneconomic loss. However, there is no commensurate provision defining the types of damages encompassed within MCL 600.1483 for economic loss.
Plaintiff Marchelle Thorn, the personal representative of the estate of Laurie Ann Greene, deceased, filed an action in Michigan state court contending that the medical malpractice committed by defendants Mercy Memorial Hospital Corporation (MMHC), Blessing B. Nwosu, M.D., S. Ahadi, M.D., P.C., Kianoush Khaghany, M.D., and Tanvir Iqbal Qureshi, M.D., resulted in the decedent's bleeding to death from the site of a Caesarean section. Thorn sought to recover damages pursuant to the wrongful death act (WDA), MCL 600.2922, including the economic value of household services the decedent had provided to her minor children. To develop an estimate of the replacement cost for these household services, Thorn retained Dr. Nitin Parajpne as an expert in the field of economics. Parajpne opined that the cost to replace the services lost to the decedent's children was $ 1.45 million. Defendants filed motions seeking to preclude Thorn's claim for economic damages for the loss of household services and to exclude testimony by Thorn's expert. Defendants argued that the language of MCL 600.2922(6) did not specifically list loss of services as a recoverable element of damages. Alternatively, defendants contend that Thorn's claim for loss of services is merely a factor included in the damages for loss of society and companionship and was, therefore, noneconomic in nature and subject to the damages cap of MCL 600.1483.
Did MCL 600.2922 preclude Thorn's claim for damages for the loss of household services?
The appellate court concluded that the statutory language of MCL 600.2922(6) did not preclude Thorn's claim for loss of service damages. It rejected defendants' argument that loss of service was merely a component of a claim for the loss of society and companionship or the equivalent of a claim for loss of consortium. As a result, Thorn's claim for loss of service comprised an economic damage that was not subject to the damages cap of MCL 600.1483.
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