51 Tul. L. Rev. 1 (1976-1977)
American Tragedy: Damages for Mental Anguish of Bereaved Relatives in Wrongful Death Actions

handle is hein.journals/tulr51 and id is 19 raw text is: TULANE
LAW REVIEW
VOLUME 51  DECEMBER 1976  NUMBER 1

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY: DAMAGES FOR
MENTAL ANGUISH OF BEREAVED
RELATIVES IN WRONGFUL
DEATH ACTIONS
STUART M. SPEISER* & STUART S. MALAWER**
INTRODUCTION
The subject of this article is the law of the United States on
the question of awarding damages for mental anguish of be-
reaved relatives in wrongful death actions. There is a separate
body of law relating to damages for the pain and suffering of
the decedent. The common law rule, still the majority rule in
the United States, is that no compensation may be awarded in
a wrongful death suit to the relatives of the deceased for their
mental anguish. This rule has been vigorously criticized, and
has been rejected by a number of common law jurisdictions
and most civil law countries. It is based upon nothing more
substantial than the nineteenth-century distrust of jurors'
ability to assess emotional injuries fairly. Since jurors are now
permitted to make such assessments in thousands of personal
injury cases each year, there is no longer any rational basis for
denying compensation to bereaved relatives for their mental
anguish in wrongful death cases.
Mental anguish claims in personal injury and wrongful
death cases are inconsistently treated under American law. In
* Member of the Bars of New York, the District of Columbia, and Connecticut;
author, Recovery For Wrongful Death (2d ed. 1975). J.D., Columbia University
School of Law.
** Professor of Law, New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts. J.D.,
Cornell Law School; M.A., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Diploma, Hague
Academy of International Law (Research Centre).

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