Marion County wrongful death claim to get another review by Missouri Supreme Court

By Sam Knef | Sep 6, 2017

ST. LOUIS — A woman's wrongful death claim involving the care of her late husband will get another review by the Missouri Supreme Court.

On Aug. 22, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District transferred to the high court a case brought by Ruth Mickels against Dr. Raman Danrad, alleging he failed to diagnose an incurable, terminal brain tumor in Joseph Mickels Sr.

In April 2016, the high court had vacated a Marion County trial court ruling that had granted summary judgment to Danrad and remanded the case back to the trial court. The state Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs, including Ruth Mickels, could not sue for wrongful death under the section of law that their suit claimed. However, their allegations did state a cause of action for negligence that would have been actionable if brought by Joseph Mickels' personal representative.

In a decision filed on Aug. 22 by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Ruth Mickels appealed Marion County Judge John Jackson's denial of her application to be appointed personal representative of Joseph Mickels' estate.

Jackson denied the application, finding it to be untimely and barred by Section 473.020.

The appeals court panel, which included judges Lawrence Mooney, Kurt Odenwald and Colleen Dolan, disagreed.

"We conclude that the trial court should exercise its equitable powers and consider granting Mrs. Mickels' application given the unique facts of this case," Mooney wrote in the decision. 

"Thus, we would reverse the trial court and remand the cause," Mooney said in the decision. "However, given the circumstances, and the dearth of Missouri law on the interplay of equity and probate's time limits, we transfer the case to the Missouri Supreme Court."

The panel found that the Mickels case differs from situations "where the courts have rigidly enforced the statute of limitations contained in the probate code." 

"This is not an outside party seeking to extend the life of the estate," Mooney said in the decision. "This is unlike the claim cases noted above that involved the administration of assets, where the claim would operate to the detriment of the estate by decreasing asset estates. 

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