Estate of Faucheaux v. Provo CityAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' decision reversing the district court's order granting Provo City's motion to dismiss this wrongful death suit on the ground that an estate lacks the legal capacity to assert a claim sounding in wrongful death, holding that the district court erred in dismissing the case on the basis of a lack of capacity.
Helen Faucheaux died of a drug overdose in an incident in which Provo City police officers were dispatched to her home. Faucheaux's heirs brought a wrongful death suit against the City. The caption of the complaint listed "The Estate of Helen M. Faucheaux" as the plaintiff. The district court dismissed the case on the ground that an estate lacks the legal capacity to assert a claim sounding in wrongful death. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed on alternative grounds, holding (1) the caption of a complaint has no controlling significance, and because the complaint made clear that the action was being pursued by the personal representative on behalf of the heirs the district court erred in dismissing the case on the basis of a lack of capacity; and (2) even if this action had been initiated by the estate, the estate's lack of capacity could have been corrected by substitution.