This is a probate case in name only. But, as it comes out of a probate court and because it is published, I feel some obligation to address it here.
The case holds that “grandchildren and grandparents are immediate family members for purposes of bystander recovery for negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
In other words, when these grandchildren saw their grandparent die in a fiery car crash, they had standing to be compensated for their emotional distress. Prior to this decision, they did not meet the test as they were not considered members of the decedent’s “immediate family.”
To the extent this case has any probate law implications, maybe you could say it reflects the growing uneasiness in our courts with respect to the traditional definition of “family.” In the probate world we have seen, for example, the appellate courts contort themselves over questions having to do with when a spouse has abandoned a marriage, and we have seen contentious cases dealing with the issue of whether stepchildren can be treated as kin, among others.
Otherwise, this is a decision for the plaintiffs’ bar to celebrate.