The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently decided in favor of a plaintiff in a loss of consortium case stemming from a March 2010 accident. Apparently, several Albuquerque police officers responded to a report of a stolen car in a parking lot. The officers parked in various locations around the parking lot in unmarked cars.
The decedent and his children drove into the parking lot and parked next to the stolen car, and one of his children got out of the car and walked up to the stolen vehicle. The officers then parked one car behind the father, and as the father was backing out of the spot, he hit the police car. The officer then shot at the father’s car and hit him in the chest. Tragically, the unarmed father died from the gunshot wounds.
About four years later, the children’s guardian brought a lawsuit against the city for loss of consortium under the Tort Claims Act, arguing that the defendant shot the father in violation of City policy, and the father did not pose a threat. Furthermore, they contended that the city was also responsible for the death in the negligent hiring, training, and retraining of the officer who killed the father.
The defendants moved to dismiss for several reasons, including failure to state a claim, statute of limitations, and insufficient facts. The Court of Appeals disagreed and found that the children’s loss of consortium claim was appropriate under the Tort Claims Act.
New Mexico Tort Claims Act and Loss of Consortium
The court in this case discussed loss of consortium claims and how they fit within the Tort Claims Act. According to the opinion, loss of consortium is considered the emotional distress that a spouse suffers after they lose the normal company of their partner. Later, the courts recognized that loss of consortium can be extended to children, siblings, grandparents, and unmarried cohabiting partners. Furthermore, a loss of consortium claim derives from the underlying claim by the physically injured person.
There is a specific section of the statute that deals with the liability of governmental entities, and a plaintiff’s claim must fit within one of the exceptions, or it cannot be pursued. The defendants in the above case argued that loss of consortium was not specifically listed in the governmental waivers of immunity, and thus they should not be held liable. The Appeals Court found that the case on which the defendants were relying did not explicitly disregard loss of consortium, and therefore the judges refused to uphold the defense’s argument and concluded that loss of consortium claims can be brought under the Tort Claims Act.
Have You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries Because of Another Party’s Negligence?
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries, you should discuss your case with one of the dedicated attorneys at the Fine Law Firm. As you can see, loss of consortium claims can be difficult to pursue if you are not well versed in the legalities and complexities of the claim. The Albuquerque wrongful death attorneys at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in determining what exactly your rights and remedies are and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
State Supreme Court Denies Governmental Immunity for Transportation Commission in Wrongful Death Claim, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2016.
State Court Finds Plaintiff Was Not Entitled to a New Trial in Lawsuit over Medical Expenses, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 28, 2016.