Ranney v. Whitewater Engineering
Alaska Supreme Court
122 P.3d 214 (2005)
Sharon Ranney (plaintiff) and Gary Stone were in an intimate relationship and moved in together in 1995. Ranney and Stone shared a joint checking account and were jointly listed in their town’s telephone book. Ranney was listed as the primary beneficiary on Stone’s life-insurance policy, the couple made purchases together, and Ranney depended on Stone’s income to maintain her standard of living. Ranney and Stone never married, but Stone bought Ranney a wedding ring and proposed to Ranney in March of 1999. In April of 1999, Stone died in a work-related accident during his employment with Whitewater Engineering (Whitewater) (defendant). Ranney sought death benefits from Whitewater, claiming to be Stone’s “unmarried spouse.” The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board denied Ranney’s benefits application after concluding that Ranney was ineligible to recover benefits as Stone’s widow because she and Stone had never married. A state superior court affirmed the board’s decision, and Ranney appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bryner, C.J.)
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