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Utah Court Allows Woman To Sue Herself For Wrongful Death Of Her Husband

Salt Lake City, Utah (CBS LAS VEGAS) — A Utah woman has been granted the ability to sue herself for negligence in the case of a deadly accident that killed her husband in 2011.

The Utah Court of Appeals has ruled that Barbara Bagley will be allowed to proceed with a wrongful-death lawsuit against herself for alleged negligence in the Dec. 27, 2011 accident east of Battle Mountain, Nev., that killed her husband, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports. Court documents show that Bagley will be suing the driver of the vehicle, Bagley, for an unspecified amount of money stemming from losses in medical, funeral costs and mental anguish.

Bagley lost control of a Range Rover while driving in the desert when she hit a sagebrush which caused the vehicle to flip over. Her husband, 55-year-old Bradley Vom Baur, was thrown from the vehicle and suffered severe injuries that ultimately led to his Jan. 6, 2012 death.

Bagley made news after the crash when the family’s dog went missing but then showed up a month later for a surprise reunion.

Court documents show that Bagley claims she was negligent for failing to maintain proper control of her vehicle and for not keeping a proper lookout as she was driving.

The case was dismissed by Third District Judge Paul Maughan in 2014 but the Utah Appeals Court last week reinstated the suit in a 3-0 ruling that state law doesn’t ban Bagley from suing herself for damages.

Attorneys for Bagley say the widow is pursuing legal action for the benefit of the estate, and not just herself. Creditors will be paid prior to Bagley receiving the money she’d receive as her husband’s sole heir.

Lawyers defending Bagley – as the driver – are representatives from her insurance carrier. These attorneys say the wrongful-death suit should follow other state rulings in which cases involving people suing themselves for damages have been declared unjust.

Much of the case centers around each side’s view of the phrase “of another” to determine which heirs or personal representatives of an estate can sue for damages.

“If this suit is allowed to continue, a jury would be asked to determine whether Barbara Bagley’s fault caused Barbara Bagley’s own harm,” attorneys Peter Christensen and Kathryn Tunacik Smith said in a motion to dismiss the suit. “The jury would be asked to determine how much money will fairly compensate Barbara Bagley for the harm she caused herself. The jury will be highly confused — it cannot order a person to compensate herself.”

Insurance company attorneys for Bagley – the driver – told the Tribune Tuesday that no decision has been made on whether to appeal the ruling with the Utah Supreme Court.

Benjamin Fearnow

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