Father denied participation in wrongful death claim.
David Klinske appealed to the Court of Appeals after he was denied any compensation for the death of his 8-year old son, Kyle Klinske. David Klinske was instructing the boy on how to ride a motorbike when the boy accidentally rode the bike from the front lawn into the road in front of a passing motorist. A lawsuit was filed by the child's estate against Klinske and others, alleging negligence. The claim was ultimately settled for $196,000.00, with Klinske's insurer contributing $50,000.00. A hearing was held to determine how the settlement should be allocated among the Interested Person claimants. The judge ultimately awarded 55% of the recovery to the child's mother, Tracy Sullivan, and a total of 45% of the recovery to the child's half-siblings. David argued that he should have shared in the recovery, since he, too, suffered a loss of the child's society and companionship.
The Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that the trial court's decision was not abuse of discretion. It reported that the judge had pointed both to David's "fault" in causing the incident, and also to the fact that David's involvement in Kyle's upbringing had been sporadic. Noting that David had fallen behind on child support and once caused the family to resort to food stamps, and also taking into account David's negligence, the appellate judges concluded that while David had, indeed, suffered a significant loss, it was "equitable" and "just" to award the recovery to the family members who actually lived with Kyle.