(251) 299-0101

Wrongful Death - Standing to Sue

Watson v. The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, P.C., [Ms. 1170057, Apr. 27, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). The Court (Sellers, J., and Stuart, C.J., and Bolin, Parker, Main, and Mendheim, J.J., concur; Shaw, J., concurring in part and concurring in the result; Wise and Bryan, J.J., dissenting) affirms a summary judgment entered by the Jefferson Circuit Court in a wrongful death action in favor of The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and Graham C. Towns, M.D. Noting the facts were undisputed, the Court holds that once a personal representative petitions a probate court for a final settlement of a decedent's estate, and the probate court enters a judgment of final settlement discharging the personal representative and his surety from all further liabilities, the former personal representative no longer has lawful authority to commence a wrongful-death action pursuant to § 6-5-410, Ala. Code 1975. Further, Rule 60(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., cannot be invoked beyond the 30-day deadline afforded by § 12-13-3, Ala. Code 1975, for setting aside or amending or reopening a judgment entered by a probate court, to correct, amend, or substantively enlarge or modify the probate court's judgment to make it say something other than what was originally pronounced.

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