No. 2985 October Term, 1978, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County, Civil Action, No. 75-9516-10-2 Trespass
Howard T. Gathright, Doylestown, for appellant.
Paul R. Beckert, Jr., Fairless Hills, for appellee Manning.
James C. Bowen, Sellersville, did not file a brief on behalf of appellees Capelli and Panelrama, Inc.
Price, Gates*fn* and Dowling,*fn* JJ. Gates, J., files a concurring opinion.
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 209]
This is an appeal from the order of the court below confirming distribution of the proceeds of a wrongful death action pursuant to a schedule of distribution submitted by the appellee, Patricia Ann Manning, Administratrix of the estate of the deceased. The sole question presented for our determination is whether appellant, Linda Civitella, an adult, emancipated child of the deceased, is entitled to share in the distribution of damages, when the deceased has also left surviving minor, unemancipated and/or dependent children.
The appellant is the daughter of the deceased by a prior marriage. The deceased and appellant's mother were separated when appellant was eight months old, and divorced when appellant was two years old. From the time of her
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 210]
parents' separation through the remainder of her minority and up to her father's death, appellant had lived apart from the deceased's home and had received no support, financial or otherwise, from the deceased.
As a result of the deceased's accidental death, a wrongful death action was instituted by the surviving spouse as administratrix of her husband's estate, eventuating in a compromise settlement. The court below distributed 1/3 of the proceeds to the surviving spouse, and the remaining 2/3 equally among the deceased's two unemancipated minor children and one adult, dependent child. The appellant filed exceptions arguing that she has been improperly excluded and praying for 1/4 of the proceeds distributed to the deceased's children. Upon denial of her exceptions by the lower court, appellant brought this appeal.
We are asked to determine whether Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death Statute, Act of April 15, 1851, P.L. 669, authorizes appellant to participate in the aforesaid distribution, notwithstanding her being an emancipated and financially independent adult.
The Wrongful Death Act of April 15, 1851, P.L. 669, as amended by the Acts of April 26, 1855, P.L. 309, and June 7, 1911, P.L. 678 (12 P.S. § 1601 et seq.) created a right of action unknown to the common law in cases where death resulted from violence or negligence and no suit was brought by the injured party in his lifetime. After first establishing the right of action, the Act provides that: "The persons entitled to recover damages for any injuries causing death shall be the husband, widow, children, or parents of the deceased, and no other relatives; . . . and the sum recovered shall go to them in the proportion they would take his or her personal estate in case of intestacy . . . ." 12 P.S. § 1602. Under the Intestate Act of April 24, 1947, P.L. 80 (20 ...