Wrongful Death – Whose Claim Is It?

Tennessee’s wrongful death law is a little unusual. The claim is the claim that the decedent would have been able to bring if the decedent were still alive.
Tennessee law spells out who has the right to bring an action of behalf of the decedent. The person who has the right to bring the claim is the only proper party plaintiff. Of course, after the Jordan opinion, certain beneficiaries can prove loss of consortium damages, but those parties are not true “plaintiffs” in the traditional sense of the word. Not only is it not necessary to add the other statutory beneficiaries but their efforts to remain in the case will be met with a motion to dismiss.

So, before you file a wrongful death case, study Title 20, Chapter 5, identify the proper plaintiff, and prepare your papers accordingly. It is appropriate to plead the existence of and even identify other beneficiaries who are entitled to prove loss of consortium, but they should not be named as plaintiffs in the case.