Judge rules against parents in lost wages case

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that parents cannot sue to recover the wages they lost while caring for their disabled adult son.

In a ruling last month, Judge Joseph DiClerico said that state law requires parents to care for children who become disabled before they turn 18, and past court rulings have allowed parents to sue for lost wages while caring for an injured minor. But state law and court rulings are unclear on whether parents must care for children who become disabled after they turn 18, and no law in New Hampshire or elsewhere gives parents the right to sue for lost income under those circumstances, DiClerico wrote.

The order came in the case of Rhonda and Mark Smith of Swanzey, whose son Matthew suffered permanent brain injuries after a van hit his bicycle in August 2002.

Matthew was 19 at the time of the accident, which occurred on Route 10 in Swanzey.

In March, his parents sued the van’s driver, Janet Stilphen, of Middletown, Conn., for $10 million, including Matthew’s medical bills, lifetime rehabilitation costs and “for the future economic losses attributable to the permanent inability of Matthew Smith to care for himself,” according to court documents.

Stilphen asked the court to dismiss the Smiths’ claim for lost income, and DiClerico agreed.

The Smiths still can sue for Matthew’s medical expenses.

Categories: News