Selders v. Armentrout

192 Neb. 291, 220 N.W.2d 222 (1974)

 

RULE:

The amount which should be awarded in any wrongful death case is incapable of computation and is largely a matter for the jury. The amount to which a parent is entitled cannot be accurately determined because of the numerous contingencies involved. The amount being very problematical, it is peculiarly for the jury to determine, after hearing all the evidence bearing upon the situation, including the parent's position in life, the physical and mental condition of the child, his surroundings and prospects, and any other matter that sheds light upon the subject. Members of juries generally have children of their own and have information as to the pecuniary value of children's services and the expense involved in their care and education. A jury is peculiarly fitted to determine the loss sustained by a parent in such a case. At best, the verdict can only be an approximation as no yardstick exists by which the correct answer can be found with exactness.

FACTS:

Plaintiffs' minor children were fatally injured in an automobile accident. The trial court entered a monetary judgment in their favor in the amount of $ 1,500 for each of the three deceased children after a separate trial on liability. The court affirmed. At the time of the accident, plaintiffs were separated, and custody was awarded to the administratrix. The evidence of the divorce exhibits had some relevancy to rebut plaintiffs' testimony concerning their conduct and family relationships. 

ISSUE:

Is the amount that should be awarded in any wrongful death case, capable of easy computation?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The amount which should be awarded in any wrongful death case is incapable of computation and is largely a matter for the jury. As stated in the case of Dorsey v. Yost: "The amount to which a parent is entitled cannot be accurately determined because of the numerous contingencies involved. The amount being very problematical, it is peculiarly for the jury to determine, after hearing all the evidence bearing upon the situation, including the parent's position in life, the physical and mental condition of the child, his surroundings   and prospects, and any other matter that sheds light upon the subject. Members of juries generally have children of their own and have information as to the pecuniary value of children's services and the expense involved in their care and education. A jury is peculiarly fitted to determine the loss sustained by a parent in such a case. At best, the verdict can only be an approximation as no yardstick exists by which the correct answer can be found with exactness."

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