In this pathetic case out of the State of Rhode Island, a man paid his RI child support arrears, not to support his child, but to profit off of the child’s death as a result of a fatal car accident. This was an unseemly legal tactic in which a dead beat father sought to collect for the tragic death of his child, despite not supporting his child for numerous years. This sordid tale played out in front of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in the case of Yvette M. BONNEY v. Paul E. BONNEY, 695 A.2d 508 (1997) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1314528.html (Yvette JOHNSON a.k.a. Yvette Rochelle a.k.a. Yvette M. Bonney v.Paul E. BONNEY.)
Say it ain’t so!
What a slap in the face to the mother of this child that despite an ability to pay, he refused to pay $40 dollars a week (not even enough money to pay for 1/2 of weekly groceries) for numerous years and now he wants a share of a wrongful death verdict or settlement. And then this clown all of a sudden comes up with $13,ooo AFTER THE CHILD’S DEATH to evade a willful contempt finding so he can financially benefit from his sons death? REALLY? Say it aint so? Where was that money when the heating bill, rent and healthcare co payments came due. Also, the decision states that he sporadically visited or called his son. C’mon man!
Rhode Island Supreme Court weighs in
The top Court in RI, sitting in the Capital City of Providence, set forth the pertinent facts “Yvette M. Bonney (Yvette) and Paul were husband and wife until they were divorced in 1987.” – http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1314528.html#sthash.BtpjhFsu.dpuf While the parties were married they had a child to wit, Jaime Bonney December 9, 1985. In 1989 The Plaintiff secured a child support order against the defendant for a measly $40 week. Id. The defendant consented to this support order. id.
For a short period in 1990 the defendant paid support as a result of a child support wage garnishment of approximately $182.50. The defendant later relocated to the state of Florida but made no support payments after moving. Id. “While residing in Florida, Paul held a number of construction and maintenance jobs and then moved to Michigan where he was employed as a maintenance engineer at a hotel and as a floor guard and skating-room worker at a skating facility. He occasionally called his son, and on two occasions Jaime visited him in Florida. However, during this period Paul paid no child support.”: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1314528.html#sthash.BtpjhFsu.dpuf
Tragically the young child was killed in a fatal RI Automobile accident in North Kingstown.
A motor vehicle that the child was a passenger in was struck by a North Kingston Police Cruiser. Id. Plaintiff, mother sought compensation as a result of the alleged wrongful death by filing a lawsuit against the Defendant by and through her Rhode Island wrongful death attorney. For his part, the defendant, despite not supporting his child for several years, also filed a RI wrongful death lawsuit utilizing a RI Personal injury Lawyer seeking compensation for the deadly Rhode Island car crash. It is unclear whether the wrongful death lawsuit was settled or whether anyone was compensated as a result of the collision and fatality.
“Section 10-7-2 of the wrongful-death statute as amended on July 8, 1994, by P.L.1994, ch. 180, § 1, reads in part as follows:“[N]o person who is adjudged to be in wilful contempt of being in excess of six (6) months in arrears of an order to pay child support for the deceased individual shall be allowed recovery pursuant to this chapter and such person shall be deemed to have predeceased the child for the purpose of determining distribution under the intestacy statute.” – Case Law
Wrongful death law in RI
After Husband filed his wrongful death cause of action, Plaintiff sought to hold the defendant in willful contempt of the Family Court child support order so that he would not be compensated pursuant to the terms of 10-7-2,.
In what appears to be an unseemly tactical ploy by the defendant and his RI lawyer, “Before the motion came on for hearing in the Family Court, Paul deposited $13,000 into the registry of the court and filed a motion for determination by the court in regard to the exact amount of child support due to plaintiff.” Id. Nonetheless, the Plaintiff pursued her contempt motion seeking to “in excess of six months at the time of the child’s death and prior to the payments being made.” Id
“Insult to injury”
The trial judge determined that ““Paul Bonney is in contempt under every definition of the word…” and further reasoned “To add insult to injury, he paid $13,000 into the court registry after his son’s tragic death in order to preserve his interest as a potential beneficiary of his son’s estate. Yet, during the last * * * years of his son’s life, he chose to pay not one dime for the child’s benefit.”
“He then commented that it was the legislative intent in amending § 10-7-2 to prevent a person such as Paul from paying off his arrearage for the purpose of recovering for the wrongful death of his child. He asserted that such an interpretation of the statute would render it a nullity.” Id. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1314528.html#sthash.BtpjhFsu.dpuf
“Paul could not avoid the consequences of his willfully contemptuous conduct by the transparent device of depositing a sum of money into the registry prior to the hearing on Yvette’s motion to adjudge him in contempt. In accepting jurisdiction and declaring the defendant in willful contempt for more than six months, the trial justice was correct in fact and in law.” – See more The Highest Court in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations showed amazing restraint by not lambasting the defendant’s improper motives and questionable legal tactics.
*”§ 10-7-2 Persons who may bring actions – Limitation of actions – Minimum recovery period. ‘ Statute sets forth the statutory beneficiaries as a result of a wrongful death truck, motorcycle, van, bus or bicycle accident including husband, wife, spouse, parents children, etc.