Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Arturo Labao was a passenger in a car driven by his son-in-law, Pacifico Ferrer, when it crashed into Noemi Guevara’s car when she did not yield the right of way. Labao had to have two surgeries. Due to kidney failure, he had to go on dialysis. He had a neck brace and a tracheostomy. He could not communicate while in the hospital and frequently cried. He became frustrated when his daughter, Corazon, had to change his diaper. He said he was tired and said, “I just want to go.” The accident occurred on Oct. 17, 2002. Labao assigned his rights to a suit to Corazon on April 19, 2003, and Labao died on May 29. Corazon sued Guevara. She provided evidence of her father’s active life before the accident, which included running his own business, lifting weights and reading reference books so he could challenge his grandchildren. She presented evidence that he was checked out by a cardiologist just two weeks before the accident and that he was fine. Corazon presented the bills Labao incurred, including those for ambulance, hospital bills and continuing care services, as well as for supplies. At the close of Corazon’s case, Guevara moved for a directed verdict, arguing Corazon had not proved she had standing under the survival statute to bring suit, and arguing that Corazon had not provided legally or factually sufficient evidence of causation of Labao’s past medical treatment, expenses and damages. The trial court denied the motion, but following a jury verdict in Corazon’s favor, the trial court later granted Guevara’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict as to Labao’s past medical expenses and pain and mental anguish awards. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The court first addresses Guevara’s argument that the Corazon did not have standing to bring suit under the survival statute. The court explains that personal injury lawsuits are generally capable of being assigned, though four exceptions apply: 1. medical malpractice suits; 2. Mary Carter agreements; 3. tortfeasor against joint tortfeasor; and 4. interests in an estate. The court further explains that under the survival statute, a person’s heirs can maintain a suit for the four-year period for instituting administration hearings, provided the heirs can prove there is no administration pending and none is necessary. The court agrees with Corazon that she has standing as an heir under the survival statute. Labao’s personal injury claim is for serious bodily injury, physical and mental pain and anguish, and reasonable and necessary medical expenses as a result of Guevara’s negligence. Because Labao’s claim is not one of the four exceptions, the assignment of his claim to Corazon is valid. Corazon only has those rights Labao had before his death, but that is all she seeks: compensation for expenses related to Labao’s injuries from the accident. Corazon is not asking for wrongful-death compensation or for expenses incurred after her father’s death. “Because the assignment was valid, as of April 19, 2003, [Corazon] had all right, title, and interest in the claim for the personal injury cause stemming from the accident. Mr. Labao no longer had any interest in the claim, so when he died, the claim did not die with him as [Guevara] contends, it remained with [Corazon]. Therefore, [Corazon] had standing to continue the suit initiated by her father because she gained right to the cause of action prior to his death.” Furthermore, because Corazon was not suing as a personal representative, she did not need to prove that she was the personal representative of her father’s estate. She only needed to prove that she was Labao’s heir, which she did. She otherwise met the requirements of the Probate Code, too, for maintaining the suit. The court then finds that there is a scintilla of evidence to prove the causal nexus between the accident and Labao’s injuries. There was also more than a scintilla of evidence to prove the damages for mental pain and anguish and past medical expenses, the court finds. The court rejects Guevara’s contention that Corazon had to introduce expert testimony to establish causation. The court finds that lay testimony was appropriate in this case to show a sequence of events that provided a “strong, logically traceable connection between the event and the condition.” The court also finds there was enough evidence for reasonable minds to differ as to whether the amounts Corazon offered on Labao’s past medical expenses were reasonable or necessary. OPINION:Chew, J.; Barajas, C.J., McClure and Chew, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.