Tort Law

Estate representative can sue herself for causing decedent's wrongful death

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A woman who lost control of her vehicle, causing the death of her common-law husband, is authorized as representative of the estate to sue herself for negligence, the Utah Supreme Court has ruled.

The Utah Supreme Court allowed the suit in an Oct. 27 decision (PDF), the Legal Profession Blog reports.

Such a lawsuit is permitted by Utah’s wrongful death and survival action statutes, the state supreme court said, upholding a February 2015 decision by the state appeals court.

The suit is not barred by the “absurdity doctrine,” the supreme court said, because lawmakers could have reasonably intended to allow a person acting as an heir or personal representative to sue himself or herself for negligence.

Such suits can benefit other heirs and creditors of the estate, the court said.

Bagley had a State Farm motor vehicle insurance policy. The record does not indicate whether she made a damages claim with State Farm.

The court ruled in the case of Barbara Bagley, who sought to sue herself on behalf of the estate for causing the December 2011 car accident that killed her common-law husband, Bradley Vom Baur. Bagley had lost control of her Range Rover, causing it to flip over and kill Vom Baur, who was riding in the vehicle.

The case is Bagley v. Bagley.

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