Wrongful Death Damages not Allowed Under Vulnerable Adult Statute

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Torts - Wrongful Death Damages Not Allowed in Vulnerable Adult Action

Estate of Mary Winn, __Ariz. Adv. Rptr. __, 1 CA-CV 09-0649 (App., Div. I, August 10, 2010) (J. Downie)

ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES ACT WHILE ALLOWING "ACTUAL DAMAGES" DOES NOT ALLOW RECOVERY OF DAMAGES FOR THE LOSS OF THE PROTECTED ADULT'S LIFE

Mary Winn died in the Plaza Healthcare nursing home and her estate filed suit against the home under the Adult Protective Services Act ARS sec. 46-454 et seq. seeking damages for the "inherent or intrinsic value" of Mary's life. The trial court granted defendant summary judgment finding that the APSA does not allow for recovery of such damages and the Court of Appeals affirmed.The Court of Appeals found that while pre-death pain and suffering are and "actual damage" under the statute damages for the death of the ward is not. Damages for the death of an individual are covered by the Arizona Wrongful Death statute (ARS sec. 12-163) and must be pursued under that statute. Vulnerable Adult damages are instead limited to the damages the vulnerable adult and in this case decedent would have and could sue for. A vulnerable adult cannot sue for the loss of her own life so wrongful death damages are not available under the APSA.

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