The Hollywood Reporter reports today that the death of Lisa Robin Kelly at a drug rehabilitation facility in California (“Pax House”) has spawned a wrongful death lawsuit by her former husband, Robert Gilliam. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/estranged-husband-70s-show-actress-710636). The story seems to indicate that Mr. Gilliam was “estranged” from Kelly in the period shortly preceding her death. The allegations as set forth in his complaint are that he was trying to get Kelly into a drug rehab closer to their former home in N.C. and that he had a loving relationship with Kelly and, therefore, valid claims as a widower.
What is the standard under California law for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Obviously, Mr. Gilliam will have to prove that the drug rehabilitation facility is liable for the death of Ms. Kelly, which require showing that they fell below the standard of care for a health practitioner in the business of providing addiction treatment. He will also need to show that this was a legal cause which contributed in more than a trivial way to the death. If he does prove these allegations, however, he must then demonstrate the value of his claim (i.e. his “damages”).