Florida Court Rules Widow Cannot Recover Damages in Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful Death LawsuitA Florida appellate court recently denied a widow damages in the wrongful death case of her husband. Janis Kelly sought damages when her husband of nearly 40 years passed away in 2015 from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos during his time working on a construction project at a high school during the years of 1973-1974. Florida’s Fourth District Court ruled that Mrs. Kelly is not entitled to damages caused by her husband’s death because they were not married when the exposure occurred. The Kellys were married in 1976, several years after his initial exposure.

This 2-1 decision from the Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal is a break from how courts in other states have ruled in similar cases on the issue. The Florida court ruled that Mrs. Kelly cannot recover damages for loss of consortium, or companionship, under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act due to common law or previous judicial rulings, reasoning that spouses cannot recover damages if they were married after an injury causing death occurred.

Even though John Kelly was exposed to asbestos in 1973-1974, he was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until 2014 and died a year later. Mrs. Kelly’s attorneys claim that due to the fact that the diagnosis occurred during their marriage, Janis is entitled to damages. Her attorneys plan on appealing the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Wrongful Death Cases Involving Mesothelioma Can be Tricky

Mesothelioma victim advocates are extremely concerned about the outcome of this case. These types of cases can be rather tricky due to the fact that the diagnosis often comes years after initial exposure. When a spouse is seeking damages in a wrongful death suit, it is vitally important that they are aware of the types of laws that cover recovery of certain types of damages. The defendants in this particular case cited common law regarding a marriage predating a spouse’s injury and argued that the widow was not owed benefits for the loss of consortium, or companionship, because she was not married to the victim at the time that he came into contact with the asbestos, despite the length of their marriage and the time of her husband’s diagnosis.

Losing a loved one due to negligence of another can be an extremely confusing and emotional time for any family. It’s important to know how the laws will affect your family when it comes to filing a wrongful death case. The knowledge of an experienced attorney can help loved ones navigate the complexities of these types of wrongful death cases.

References:

Ampel, C. (2017, February 24). Timing of Asbestos Injury Key for Court in Denying Widow Damages. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202779868865/Timing-of-Asbestos-Injury-Key-for-Court-in-Denying-Widow-Damages?slreturn=20170124182150

Florida Appeals Court Denies Widow of Mesothelioma Victim. (2017, February 23). Retrieved February 27, 2017, from https://mesothelioma.net/mesothelioma-news/florida-appeals-court-denies-widow-mesothelioma-victim/