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Sykes v. Propane Power Corp.

New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division
541 A.2d 271 (1988)


Facts

William Sykes was killed by an explosion at the power plant at which he worked. Barbara Sykes (plaintiff) brought a wrongful-death suit against Propane Power Corporation and others (Propane Power) (defendants). Barbara and William were not legally married but had lived together for 22 years, had four children together, and held themselves out as husband and wife. The trial court granted Propane Power’s motion to dismiss Barbara’s claims. Propane Power’s motion was based on New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act, which provided that wrongful-death benefits were awarded only to those persons entitled to take the decedent’s intestate property. Under New Jersey law, only a surviving spouse who was legally married to the decedent was entitled to take the decedent’s intestate property. Barbara appealed, arguing that the law denied her equal protection under the law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Michaels, J.)

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