GILBERT, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
John Michael Biro was killed in an automobile collision on December 23, 1976, while operating his motor vehicle on Route 198, a Montgomery County public highway. At the time of his death, Mr. Biro was twenty (20) years old. He is survived by his father, John P. Biro and his mother, Louise P. Biro.
In November 1977, the parents of John Michael Biro brought suit in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County against Robert L. Schombert.
Count II of the declaration, grounded on Maryland Estates and Trusts Code Ann. § 7-401, averred that John P. Biro had been appointed as the Personal Representative of his son's estate. By means of Count II, the estate claimed "funeral and burial expenses for John Michael Biro in the sum of $1773.81," as well as future loss of earnings.
Following some preliminary sparring among the litigants in the form of discovery, the appellee, Robert L. Schombert, tried for a "technical knockout" by throwing two "blows" in rapid succession.
First, he sought a "partial summary judgment in its [sic] favor on the issue of future damages and injuries to the Estate...." Second, he endeavored to avoid liability to the Biros by maintaining that "no cause of action exists under Maryland's `Wrongful Death Statute.'"
Maryland Rule 605 a permits a trial court to enter "a final judgment upon one or more but less than all of the claims only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment." (Emphasis supplied.) By directing the entry of the "final judgment," the trial court paved the way for appellate review of the "partial summary judgment." Brooks v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 261 Md. 278, 274 A.2d 345 (1971); Borden v. Director, State Department of Assessments & Taxation, 19 Md.App. 112, 309 A.2d 773 (1973); Flores v. King, 13 Md.App. 270, 282 A.2d 521 (1971).
The single issue raised by the personal representative, as appellant, is, "[i]n a survival action brought pursuant to [Estates] Article 7-401 Annotated Code of Maryland ..., may a decedent's personal representative recover for loss to the estate, based upon the decedent's loss of prospective income and savings?"
The appellant urges us to construe the phrase "including the commencement of a personal action which the decedent might have commenced or prosecuted" to mean that the personal representative, on behalf of the estate, may seek wages that the decedent would have earned during his life expectancy, had he survived. The argument by the appellant
Appellant states that "[w]hile there is no Maryland case directly in point, the decisions of other states, including the neighboring ... [Commonwealth] of Pennsylvania, whose law the Court of Appeals relied on in Smith v. Gray [Concrete Pipe Co., 267 Md. 149, 297 A.2d 721 (1972)], would support the claims asserted by the personal representative."
A review of the Pennsylvania decisions reveals that it has indeed interpreted statutory language similar to that in Estates art. § 7-401
Even if we were to believe that the reasoning of those courts, which permit recovery by the estate of a decedent for the loss of future earnings less probable future expenses, is sound, we may not follow that line of cases because a barrier exists which blocks such a path. Contrary to the appellant's urging on oral argument, we do not "write on a clean slate." The "slate" has been written upon by the Court of Appeals as far back as 1906. At that time the Court decided Stewart
By Laws 1888, ch. 262, and codified as Md. Ann. Code art. 93, § 103 (1904), suits for personal injuries were excluded from that class of cases that abated upon death of either or any party to the cause. Then section 103 provided:
The Stewart Court said that the above-quoted statutory language standing alone manifests that the decedent "could have brought a suit in his lifetime for the injuries sustained by him...." Id. at 337, 65 A. at 51. The difficulty in Stewart, as in the case sub judice, is that then section 103 did not stand alone anymore than does current Estates art. § 7-401. Both Code of 1904, § 103 and Estates art. § 7-401 must be read and interpreted in the full light of Maryland's erstwhile and present Negligence Causing Death statutes.
Damages in such a case are measured by the standard of pecuniary value
The sum and substance of Stewart is that under former and current Maryland law two separate actions arise from a death caused by the negligence of another. Specified persons may maintain a suit for injury to them as a result of the death, Courts art. § 3-904. The other, related in that it stems from the same occurrence but, nevertheless, different action, may be brought by a personal representative, Estates art. § 7-401
We hold that Judge Shure did not err in granting the partial summary judgment in favor of appellee with respect to the appellant's claim for loss of future earnings.
One final comment is in order. The appellant urges that "a parent finds it hard to accept the harsh view the law has taken of the value of a child's life...." He notes that under the existing law it is cheaper to kill than to injure. Such a result he argues is unjust.
The answer to appellant's moralistic argument is that 1) the parents are not without a remedy. Maryland's version of Lord Campbell's Act was brought into being for the purpose of invalidating the common law concept of no recovery by any one except the injured person. Hence, when that party died the claim died with him. The Legislature, recognizing the devastating social impact of the common law, wisely provided that the wife, husband, parent, and child, as the case may be, can maintain a suit. Courts art. § 3-904. 2) Over 72 years have passed since the Stewart case was decided by the Court of Appeals. The General Assembly has met many times during those years, but they have not seen fit to modify, alter, or change through legislation, the Stewart decision. See Criminal Injuries Compensation Board v. Gould, 273 Md. 486, 497, 331 A.2d 55, 63 (1975). Certainly, a reasonable mind can, therefore, properly conclude that the General Assembly meant in former Code of 1904, art. 93, § 103, what Stewart
Costs to be paid by appellant.