BEIM v. HULFISH
50 A.3d 42 (2012)
427 N.J. Super. 560
Robert B. BEIM and Franklyn Z. Aronson, as Co-Executors of the Estate of John G. Kellogg and Barbara Kellogg, Franklyn Z. Aronson as Trustee of the Anne D. Kellogg Marital Trust and Judith Medina and Prudence Krause, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Trevor R. HULFISH and Teresa Cupples, Defendants-Respondents, and
Russell Marks, Jr., and Patricia H. Marks, Defendants, and
Chubb Insurance Company of New Jersey, Defendant/Intervenor-Respondent.
Docket No. A-5947-10T4
Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
Argued April 25, 2012.
Decided May 29, 2012.
Richard J. Mirra, New Brunswick, argued the cause for respondents Trevor R. Hulfish and Teresa Cupples (Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP, attorneys; Mr. Mirra, of counsel and on the brief).
Joseph A. Deer argued the cause for respondent Chubb Insurance Company of New Jersey (Bashwiner and Deer, LLC, attorneys; Mr. Deer, on the brief; John M. Bashwiner, of counsel).
Before Judges FUENTES, J.N. HARRIS, and KOBLITZ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
JONATHAN N. HARRIS, J.A.D.
This appeal arises in connection with the Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:31-1 to -6. The novel issue presented is whether an heir's loss of a prospective inheritance resulting from the imposition of increased estate taxes — incurred due to the premature death of a decedent — is recoverable in a wrongful death action. Because such a tangible, readily-calculable diminishment in an heir's expectancy is in the nature of "pecuniary injuries resulting from such death," N.J.S.A. 2A:31-5, we conclude that it is an element of damages for the jury to consider in this case, subject to appropriate expert evidence. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.I.
On January 25, 2008, John G. Kellogg and his second wife, Barbara Kellogg,1 were passengers in an automobile owned by defendant Patricia Marks and operated by defendant Russell Marks. The Marks's vehicle collided with a car owned by defendant Teresa Cupples and operated by defendant Trevor R. Hulfish. Mr. Kellogg was ninety-seven years old at the time of the accident. Immediately following the collision, he was treated at the University Medical Center at Princeton. He remained in the hospital for one week, and on February 1, 2008, he was discharged to the Merwick Rehabilitation Center. At the time of discharge, Mr. Kellogg was diagnosed with a displaced rib fracture, non-displaced rib-fracture, and a possible pulmonary contusion. Although showing initial signs of improvement, Mr. Kellogg's condition rapidly deteriorated, and on February 6, 2008, he returned to the hospital. Mr. Kellogg died one day later due to "blunt force injury sustained during the car crash."2
Plaintiffs Robert B. Beim and Franklyn Z. Aronson are the co-executors of the Estate of John G. Kellogg. Aronson is also trustee of the Anne D. Kellogg Marital Trust, which for many years served as Mr. Kellogg's primary source of income. Plaintiffs Judith Medina and Prudence Krause are John's and Anne's daughters.