A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Parents Not Entitled to Pursue Claim for Loss of Consortium of Minor Child Injured in Escalator Accident

By on October 3, 2014 in Blog with 0 Comments

Juan and Nora Valdez filed a lawsuit in federal court against defendants Macy’s and Thyssenkrupp Elevator America, Inc. due to the personal injuries suffered by their 10 year daughter whose right foot and leg got trapped in an escalator while visiting a Macy’s store. J.V. by her GAL Juan Valdez v. Macy’s, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138952 (D.N.J. September 30, 2014). The minor underwent 13 surgeries to save her foot and leg, but she did have her pinky and second toes amputated.  They sued in their own names, as well as on behalf of their daughter, claiming negligence against the defendants. Their lawsuit also included a claim for parental loss of consortium. Both defendants filed a motion to dismiss the loss of consortium claim.

The parents claimed the loss of consortium and services premised on the assertion that as parents, they were entitled to the services and consortium that parents would typically expect from a child living in the same household and that they have lost that based upon the defendants’ conduct. In deciding this motion, the court looked to New Jersey law.

The District Court found that a parental loss of services of a minor child resulting from a negligence claim was a viable claim under New Jersey law. However, the Court noted that New Jersey law does not provide for the right of recovery by parents to sue for the loss of consortium of a minor child.

Parents can sue for damages for loss of the child’s past or future services. The rationale for such a claim is rooted in the common law when children would work on the family farm or at a factory as early as age 10. While other states have moved beyond the pecuniary loss calculation of  a parent’s loss, New Jersey remains “off-trend” in prohibiting a loss of consortium claim. Thus, the District Court granted the defendants’ motion in dismissing this claim.


About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 30 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020-2023, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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