RI House Passes Expansion of Wrongful Death Statute

The Providence Journal reports that the RI House of Representatives recently passed a bill – H5969 – sponsored by State Representative Charlene Lima that will amend the state’s Wrongful Death statute to permit children and parents to make a claim for loss of parental society and companionship regardless of whether the child is under or over the age of 18.  The bill passed by a 61-9 margin on Wednesday.

State lawmakers are attempting to give parents who have lost an adult child as the result of a “wrongful act, neglect or default of another person” a new right to sue for loss of companionship and collect monetary damages.

…Had such a law been in effect earlier, Lima said the parents of the Fairfield University student crushed under the wheels of a bus after a night of revelry in Newport five years ago “would have been able to sue for the loss of that relationship and I think people should have the ability to make that effort.”

As it was, the family of Francis J. Marx reached undisclosed settlements last winter with two former University of Rhode Island students they had accused of contributing to their son’s death. The family alleged their scuffling with their 21-year-old son caused him to fall in the path of a bus bringing URI students to Narragansett after a pub crawl.

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