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12 Vt. L. Rev. 57 (1987)
Parents' Pecuniary Injuries for the Wrongful Death of an Adult Child: Where Is the Love

handle is hein.journals/vlr12 and id is 63 raw text is: PARENTS' PECUNIARY INJURIES FOR THE
Emily J. Joselson*
Wrongful death has been a statutory cause of action in Ver-
mont since 1849.' Based on an apparent legislative recognition of
the catastrophic emotional and financial injuries suffered by sur-
viving family members, the wrongful death statute protects indi-
viduals in various relational capacities to the victim of another's
wrongful act.2 By its express terms, however, the wrongful death
* B.A., 1975, University of Florida; M.A., 1977, University of New Hampshire; J.D.,
cum laude, 1982, Harvard University. From 1982-1983 the author served as a law clerk to
Chief Justice Franklin S. Billings, Jr. of the Vermont Supreme Court. The author is cur-
rently an associate with the firm of Langrock, Sperry, Parker, & Wool in Middlebury, Ver-
mont. Additionally, she co-authored: Pro Se Divorce: A Strategy for Empowering Women, 1
J.L. & INEQUALITY 239 (1983). The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of John
L. Kellner and Anna E. Saxman, both attorneys at Langrock, Sperry, Parker, & Wool, and
Paul D. Schwartzberg, law clerk, in the generation of this article.
1. Pub. Act No. 8 (Oct. Sess. 1849), codified at Gen. Stat. Ch. 52, §§ 15-17. Now codi-
fied at VT. STAT. ANN. tit. 14, §§ 1491-1492 (1974 & Supp. 1986).
2. Specifically, the statute provides:
(c) The amount recovered shall be for the benefit of such wife and next
of kin or husband and next of kin, as the case may be and shall be distrib-
uted by such personal representative as hereinafter provided. Such distribu-
tion, whether of the proceeds of a settlement or of an action, shall be in pro-
portion to the pecuniary injuries suffered, the proportions to be determined
upon notice to all interested persons in such manner as the county court, or
in the event such court is not in session a superior judge, shall deem proper
and after a hearing at such time as such court or judge may direct, upon
application made by such personal representative or by the wife, husband or
any next of kin. The distribution of the proceeds of a settlement or action
shall be subject to the following provisions, viz:
(1) In case the decedent shall have left a spouse surviving, but no chil-
dren, the damages recovered shall be for the sole benefit of such spouse;
(2) In case the decedent leaves neither spouse nor children, but leaves a
mother and leaves a father who has abandoned the decedent or has left the
maintenance and support of the decedent to the mother, the damages or re-
covery shall be for the sole benefit of such mother;
(3) In case the decedent leaves neither spouse nor children, but leaves a
father and leaves a mother who has abandoned the decedent, the damages or
recovery shall be for the sole benefit of such father;
(4) No share of such damages or recovery shall be allowed in the estate
of a child to a parent who has neglected or refused to provide for such child
during infancy or who has abandoned said child whether or not such child
dies during infancy, unless the parental duties have been subsequently and
continuously resumed until the death of the child;

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