Wife Sues Herself after Husband Dies

Interestingly a lady (Barbara Bagley) at Utah Court has brought in a case against her own self. Bagley v. Bagley, No. 20131077-CA (Feb 12, 2015).  This distinguished case is the outcome of a fatal road accident that took place on December 27, 2011 in Nevada, where her husband died while she was driving and hit a sagebrush and flipped the Range Rover over. Her husband was thrown from the car and later died from injuries. Now she turns up with a lawsuit where she sued herself for negligence charges claiming that she was negligent for not keeping control of her vehicle and for failing to maintain a proper lookout. Ms. Bagley is seeking damages to cover medical and funeral expenses along with compensation for the pain suffered by her husband, who died 10 days after the December 2011 crash.

At the first instance the State Third District Judge Paul Maughan dismissed the lawsuit last year for the majority view in other jurisdictions that disallowed a negligent beneficiary or sole survivor from effectively enriching oneself through the assertion of a wrongful death or survival action.

Reversing the above holding, the suit has recently been reinstated by the Utah Court of Appeals this February 2015 in a unanimous 3-0 ruling that the state law doesn’t ban Bagley from suing herself for damages, as such a language has not provided in the wrongful death or survival action statutes. Instead, the basis for the District Court’s denial lay in the comparative fault statute, which is not at stake for this case.

Mark Rose and Reid Tateoka, the attorneys representing the widow in her capacity as personal representative, allege that Bagley has sued to meet her legal responsibility to act to benefit the estate, because creditors will have to be paid before she can receive any money as her husband’s only heir. She has been forced to sue herself to receive money from her insurers who refused to pay. Although, the Utah Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision to proceed with the lawsuit, Court based its opinion on state’s current law on the issue, but that does not necessarily resolve the bizarre legal wrangling the case presents.



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