In providing a framework for determination of lost future income, courts are not determining the "value" of a person.
Three days after being admitted to the hospital, Mamie Hemphill died in the care of Dr. Charles Laney because of an infected dialysis catheter. Martin Vance then filed a wrongful-death suit against Laney. On trial, the lower court instructed the jury to add any amount in valuation of Hemphill’s life. The jury returned with a verdict in favor of Vance and awarded damages against Laney. Laney appealed, arguing for the impropriety of the instruction of putting a value on Hemphill’s life.
May a court instruct a jury to determine the value of a decedent's life?
The court held that it was reversible error for the trial court to instruct the jury that they could consider the "value of life" of the deceased in awarding damages. Section 11-1- 69(2) states that in any wrongful death action, there can be no recovery for loss of enjoyment of life caused by death. Because of this, the court reversed the lower court’s judgment and remanded for a new trial.