§78.3 Distribution of Proceeds
The Case: Kline v. Eyrich, 69 S.W.3d 197 (Tenn. 2002).
The Basic Facts: Plaintiffs were the wife and children of a man killed in a motorcycle accident who brought a wrongful death suit against the Defendant motorist. The children and wife initially filed separate suits, but the trial court then consolidated the cases, giving the wife the authority to prosecute the singular wrongful death action.
The Bottom Line:
- "FN3. Proceeds of a wrongfuldeath action aredistributed according to the laws of intestatesuccession.See Foster v. Jeffers, [813 S.W.2d 449, 452 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1991)] ( '[I]t is the law in Tennessee that the proceeds from a wrongfuldeath action become personal property of the deceased and the court will look to the statutes on distributionof personalty as a guide [to distributing those proceeds ].' (citing Anderson v. Anderson, 211 Tenn. 566, 366 S.W.2d 755 (1963))." 69 S.W.3d at 201.
Recent Cases: Rickman v. Rickman, No. M2013-00251-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 5656214 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2013) (holding that postnuptial agreement entered into by widow prevents her from benefitting from the wrongful death settlement obtained by deceased husband’s personal representative); Lawson v. Lawson, No. M2009-00537-COA-R3-CV, 2010 WL 3853289 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2010) (holding UM/UIM funds should have been deposited in court where wrongful death case was pending, not in probate court because wrongful death proceeds pass outside of the estate).