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Iowa Supreme Court allows suit to go forward for “parental consortium injury” for daughter whose father died when she was an unborn child

by | May 16, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

IowaSupremeCourt9A tip of the hat to World Magazine for a provocative story regarding a decision reached last Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The story of the now three-year-old daughter of Paul Gray (of the band Slipknot) and his wife Brenna is extremely complicated, but the end results is a reminder of how abortion makes schizophrenics of us all.

Brenna Gray was 3-4 months pregnant in 2010 when her husband died of an accidental overdose of morphine and Fentanyl, a pain killer. She sued, arguing various medical individuals and groups “failed to monitor her husband’s drug addiction treatment properly,” according to World Magazine’s Bob Brown.

The state High Court held that Brenna Gray could not proceed on a claim of a spousal consortium injury because she had filed too late. However, while vigorously shying away from any linkage to the abortion issue, the Court did agree that the mother could proceed for damages on behalf of her daughter for “a parental consortium injury, which includes the loss of parental ‘support, companionship, aid, affection, comfort, and guidance,’” Brown explained

“Iowa allows lawsuits on behalf of a minor who was under the age of 8 when the alleged wrongful death occurred, if the suit is brought before the child reaches the age of 10,” Brown added.

Attorneys for the defendants argued the law does not apply to a child yet born. Brown explained that the attorneys contended, “The ‘fetus’ is not a ‘minor’ … because the word ‘minor’ includes only living persons, and an unborn child is not yet living,” and that “‘under the age of 8’ does not include ‘negative age.’”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs ingeniously argued that a ruling against the child “would permit a child who was just seconds old at the time of [her] parent’s death to sue, yet prevent the same suit from a child who was born a second after [her] parent passed away.”

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed that the law does apply to unborn children, allowing the suit to go forward.

“[A] child conceived but not yet born at the time of [her] parent’s death can bring a parental consortium claim” after she is born, the court wrote in its decision,” Brown wrote, quoting from the opinion. “Whatever deprivation of consortium O.D.G. [the designation for the child] is currently experiencing is no less real just because she did not experience it in utero.”

According to Brown

But in strong language, the court attempted to sidestep the implication of its decision on the legality of abortion, explaining it ruled for the plaintiff simply because the petition, filed when O.D.G. was 3 years old, was “clearly ‘brought on behalf of a minor.’”

[Quoting from the opinion], “The semantic argument whether an unborn child is a ‘person in being’ is beside the point. … Any reader who scours this opinion’s interstices for implied sentiments about any context beyond the narrow parental consortium question presented undertakes a fool’s errand.”

Categories: Judicial