The Utah Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss a Utah County woman's lawsuit against a motorist alleging the driver was responsible for her husband's accident injury-related impotence.
The woman's suit claimed that because of the injuries her husband sustained in the accident, she no longer could enjoy his affection and companionship the way she previously could.Her husband has already won a $142,784 claim from the other driver, who was found to be 100 percent responsible for the accident because of his negligence.
But the wife sued on her own behalf, claiming the defendant deprived her of her rightful "consortium" from her husband, defined as "the companionship and support provided by marriage, including the right of each spouse to receive this from each other."
Utah's Married Women's Act of 1898 functionally did away with the perceived right of a man to sue for his wife's injuries, on the theory that he was personally damaged because his wife was his property.
That act gave women the right to act on behalf of themselves.
But the wife in the recent case claimed that act was unconstitutional because Article I, Section 11, of the Utah Constitution forbids the alteration or abolition of any causes of action that existed in common law before statehood.
She then said that if that right still exists, it exists for women as well as men because of the modern-day recognition that women are equal to men.
But the state justices Thursday rejected the idea that the common-law right to sue for personal injuries because of a spouse's injuries still exists.