Injured Party Who Releases All Claims Against Tortfeasor Does Not Release Spouse’s Consortium Claim

From Crabtree v. Woodman, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69054 (D. Utah Sept. 11, 2008):

[T]he court initially answers a question that is a matter of first impression in Utah. That is, does an injured person who releases all claims against a tortfeasor also release a loss of consortium claim by his or her spouse? While Utah courts have not yet considered this issue, several other states have done so, giving guidance as to what the Utah Supreme Court might rule. For the reasons below, the court concludes that as a matter of Utah law, an injured person who releases his or her claims does not release his or her spouse's claim for loss of consortium.

Where the action for loss of consortium is seen as purely derivative of the original cause of action for the injury, it has been held that once the original cause of action has been released, the action for loss of consortium is also barred. However, the more prevalent view seems to be that the loss of consortium suit is not barred as it is a separate and independent cause of action which is the property of the spouse and cannot be controlled by the injured person.

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