Nearly three years after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that wrongful death actions are derivative, the state high court must now consider whether a lower court erred in dismissing a family’s wrongful death action against Philip Morris because the decedent “could not ‘have brought an action for the injuries that caused [his] death at the time he died.’”

The full Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments Monday in two similar cases, Michael Cuddy v. Philip Morris USA Inc., and Mary Fuller v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. In both cases, the parties asked whether the Superior Court erred in dismissing the complaint in a wrongful death action, where the complaint was filed within three years of the decedent’s death but the statute of limitations on the decedent’s personal injury claims had expired.

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