The Appellate Division ultimately held that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover damages under this claim, and as a result her lawsuit was dismissed (by way of defendants’ motion for summary judgment) as the decedent was not the plaintiff’s “immediate family.” The Court notes that although the decedent was plaintiff’s stepfather, and the plaintiff lived with him since she was four years old and he had financially supported her for the majority of her life and acted as her father, he was not her biological father and therefore not considered to be her "immediate family" member (citing Bovsun v. Sanperi, 61 NY2d 219 and Trombetta v. Conkling, 82 NY2d 549). The Court stated the following: “There is no blood relationship, even if the plaintiff and the decedent had the same quality of relationship that a parent has with his or her biological child. In light of the strong public policy limiting liability under the zone-of-danger rule and favoring an objectively defined class of individuals who fall within ‘immediate family’ for purposes such as liability, we concluded that stepchildren are not immediate family members. Thus, the Supreme Court properly granted the motion of the moving defendants for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted by [plaintiff] against each of them.”
Salvatore R. Marino, Esq.