Commonwealth v. Serge Case Brief Summary | Law Case Explained

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Commonwealth v. Serge | 896 A.2d 1170 (2006)

If a person dies as a result of another’s wrongful conduct, state statutes typically allow the person’s family or estate to seek damages from the wrongdoer via a civil wrongful death action. But what if the person impacted is a fetus that consequently isn’t born alive? In E ndresz versus Friedberg , we explore the intersection of wrongful death actions and the deaths of unborn children.

While seven months pregnant with twins, Janice Endresz was involved in a car accident and suffered injuries. Two days later, both babies were delivered stillborn. Janice and her husband, Steve, filed multiple suits against the parties responsible for the accident, including Fred Friedberg, alleging negligence. Among those suits were two wrongful death actions, one for each child, brought by Steve as the administrator of the unborn children’s estates. The suits sought compensation for the parents’ loss of anticipated care, comfort, and support from the children, and for the medical and funeral expenses resulting from the deaths. Friedberg and the other defendants moved to dismiss the wrongful death actions, arguing that New York didn’t recognize a cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child.

The trial court granted the motions to dismiss, and the Appellate Division affirmed. Endresz appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

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