Case Summary: Standing and the Survivor’s Act

Chandler v. Kasper, A-2143-20 (App. Div. June 14, 2022)

In Chandler v. Kasper, Docket No. A-2143-20 (App. Div. October 7, 2021), the Appellate Division dismissed a plaintiff’s cause of action under the Survivor’s Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:15-3), finding that the plaintiff (the decedent’s daughter) did not have standing to file a lawsuit under the Survivor’s Act because she had not yet been appointed as administrator of her father’s estate. Following the decision, the plaintiff filed a motion with the New Jersey Supreme Court for leave to appeal. On January 18, 2022, while the motion was pending, the New Jersey State Legislature amended the Survivor’s Act and the Wrongful Death Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:31-2) through Assembly Bill 6133. The language of the respective Acts, as amended, now each permit certain persons to pursue a lawsuit for damages for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s survivors.

As a result of the plaintiff’s motion and the new legislation, the Supreme Court granted plaintiff’s motion and summarily remanded the matter to the Appellate Division with instructions “to consider the impact of the new legislation.” On remand, the Appellate Division in Chandler v. Kasper, A-2143-20 (App. Div. June 14, 2022) applied the newly amended language of the Survivor’s Act and held “that based on the express language of the statute as amended, plaintiff became qualified to pursue her late father’s Survivor’s Act claim because, at the time she filed the complaint, she was acting in her capacity as an [administrator ad prosequendum].” Id. at *8.