Broken Families Make for Complicated Wrongful Death Claims, per the Middle Section

LATONY BAUGH, ET AL. v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James S. Higgins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, James Denzmore.

Dana C. Holloway and David A. Chapman, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, United Parcel Service, Inc. and Jason Sanders.

H. Anthony Duncan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Latony Baugh.

Judge: DINKINS

Shortly after the mother of four children was killed in an accident, her husband instituted an action to recover damages for her death; the father of the children moved to intervene in the action and for the court to hold a hearing on whether the husband had abandoned the mother, thereby waiving his right as surviving spouse to participate in the wrongful death action. The trial court did not hold a hearing; rather, it held that the husband was the proper party to pursue the action, allowed the Guardian of the children to represent the interest of the children in the action, and dismissed Father’s petition. The surviving spouse, Guardian and tortfeasor subsequently petitioned the court for approval of a settlement of the wrongful death claim; the court granted the petition. Father appeals, contending that the court erred in failing to hold a hearing on the issue of whether the husband was estranged from the mother, in approving the settlement, and in placing the settlement documents under seal. We remand the case for a hearing on whether the husband waived his right as surviving spouse to participate in the wrongful death action and reverse the court’s placement of the settlement documents under seal; in all other respects the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

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