Appeals Court Awards Attorney Fees in Child’s Wrongful Death Case
John and Megan Crays filed a wrongful death suit after their 13-year-old son was electrocuted and died while swimming. The couple who owned the pool reached a settlement with the homeowners, the Crays, but the manufactured housing community where the accident occurred, Angel Shores Mobile Home Park, proceeded to a jury trial.
In March 2014, the jury found for the Crays with total damages at $3 million and 5 percent fault attributed to Angel Shores, resulting in the verdict amount of $150,000 against Angel Shores. Afterwards, the Crays filed a motion seeking legal fees and the trial court awarded attorney fees of $60,000 and litigation costs at $72,864.85. This brought to total judgment to $282,864.85.
Angel Shores appealed, arguing the Indiana Child Wrongful Death Statute (CWDS), does not include a provision for the attorney fees and litigation expenses. The Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld the award, citing cases that examined the language in Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS) and the General Wrongful Death Statute (GWDS).
“As the plain language of the CWDS allows for other remedies as provided by law, and the second category of the GWDS provides for attorney’s fees, it is logical to construe the two in harmony, and conclude that a party filing an action under the CWDS, like a party filing an action under the AWDS, is entitled to attorney’s fees under the second category of the GWDS,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the court.