Injury & Accident Law

Court OKs wrongful death case for child whose father died three months before she was born

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A child whose father died before she was born can sue for loss of companionship in a wrongful death case, the Iowa Supreme Court found Friday.

The opinion was a matter of first impression for the state, and the court cautioned that the finding should not be used in forthcoming abortion cases, the Associated Press reports. Similar opinions have been published in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

The lawsuit stems from the death of Paul Gray, who was a bassist with the heavy metal band Slipknot. He died after an overdose of morphine and fentanyl, and the doctor who treated Gray at a pain management clinic is named as a defendant in the wrongful death action.

Gray’s widow, who is also the child’s mother, was dismissed from the lawsuit on the basis that she missed a 2-year statute of limitations deadline for filing the complaint. However, the law has an exception for minors, which holds that children under the age of 8 can bring claims regardless of the time frame until they are 10 years old.

Since she never met her father, they had no relationship, attorneys for Dr. Daniel Baldi argued. Whether the child, now 5, could suffer from her father’s death was a claim to be decided by a jury, the court found.

“Whatever deprivation of consortium [the child] is currently experiencing is no less real just because she did not experience it while in utero,” the opinion states.

Baldi was acquitted in 2014 of manslaughter charges brought against him for the deaths of Gray and other patients, the Des Moines Register reports. Defense attorneys argued that Baldi did not prescribe the drugs that killed Gray.

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