In 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a punitive damages award against dead person allowed. The deceased person’s estate can be held responsible for punitive damages if a trial court awards such damages against the decedent, cutting into the share of the estate the heirs can receive.
Facts Justifying Punitive Damages Award Against Dead Person Allowed
In June 2010, a great aunt was babysitting a five year old and a two year old child. When the mother returned, she discovered the great aunt had one hand on the five year old child’s neck and a pillow over the child’s face. The mother rescued her children and sued the great aunt. A default judgment was entered against the great aunt while she was alive but she died before the hearing on punitive damages. The Ohio Supreme Court found that punitive damages were permissible because the great aunt was alive when she was found responsible. Most of the other states do not allow punitive damages against dead wrongdoers because one of the purposes of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer. Those other states subscribe to the notion that you cannot punish someone who is already dead.
Consequences of Punitive Damages Award Against Dead Person Allowed
Allowing punitive damages means such damages can be imposed as a claim in probate court. This claim would be paid out of the probate estate’s assets. While the heirs would not be held liable for the debt, the debt would be paid out of assets that the heirs stood to inherit, greatly reducing or eliminating their inheritance.
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Personal Injury Articles Related To Punitive Damages Award Against Dead Person Allowed
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