Elardo, Bragg, Appel & Rossi

Wrongful Death – Adopted Yes; Natural Yes – But Not if Adopted

Edonna v. Heckman, 227 Ariz. 108, 253 P.3d 627 (App. Div. 1 2011)

Edonna brought a negligence and wrongful death claim as the “sole surviving beneficiary” of his biological father, who had agreed to Edonna’s adoption by his stepfather several years prior. On appeal from a jury award for Edonna, the Court reversed the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Court held that the plain language of A.R.S. § 12-612(A) creates a limited class of beneficiaries who have standing to bring a wrongful death action and that this right is a legal incident of the parent-child relationship that is lost upon adoption.