Borer v. American Airlines, Inc.

19 Cal. 3d 441, 138 Cal. Rptr. 302, 563 P.2d 858 (1977)



Courts do not recognize a nonstatutory cause of action for the loss of parental consortium.


Following an injury to a mother, struck by a falling lighting fixture in an airline terminal, her nine children brought suit against the airline for loss of her services, companionship, affection, and guidance. In the consolidated action, the court affirmed the demurrer of plaintiff children's action for negligence, breach of warranty, and manufacture of a defective product, which disabled their mother, against defendants airline and company, and plaintiffs' mother and father action for loss of companionship and affection of their disabled son. Plaintiffs challenged the decision of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) and sought damages for loss of consortium.


Is there a cause of action for the loss of parental consortium?




The court declined to recognize a new cause of action for loss of consortium in a parent-child relationship, concluding that loss of consortium is an intangible injury for which money damages do not afford an accurate measure or suitable compensation. The court concluded that recognition of a right to recover for such losses might substantially increase the number of claims asserted in ordinary accident cases, the expense of settling or resolving such claims, and the ultimate liability of the defendants. The court distinguished between the marital relationship and the parent-child relationship and limited the cause of action for loss of consortium to the marital situation because social policy intervened to limit such liability imposed on defendants. The court found that no state permitted a child to sue for loss of parental consortium. The court AFFIRMED the judgment declining to recognize a loss of parent-child consortium cause of action after taking into consideration all issues bearing on the question, including the inadequacy of monetary compensation to alleviate that tragedy, the difficulty of measuring damages, and the danger of imposing extended and disproportionate liability.

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