Parents plead for lawsuit rights on adult child wrongful death

OLYMPIA, Wash. — For parents suffering the loss of a child, the grief will always be raw.

"On July 7, 2014, our son Bradley Hogue, 19, was horrifically killed on his second day at work," his mother Deanna Hogue said.

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​Hogue told her story to members of the House Judiciary Committee. They are considering legislation introduced by Seattle Democrat Sharon Tomiko Santos to allow parents of adult children to sue for wrongful death.

Bradley Hogue was killed by a wood chipping machine. His employer paid a fine, but his parents could not sue because he was a young adult who had no financial dependents.

Haram Kim was killed in the Ride the Ducks crash. A native of South Korea, her parents could not sue either.

"Her parents do not count under the current law because they didn't live here, they just sent their daughter here," said attorney Andrew Ackley.

Katie Chale was killed when a bus driver lost control and hit her head-on.

"Because Katie was 22 years old, not married and had no kids, Washington state law allowed absolutely no recourse, as parents we had no legal standing in a wrongful death suit," said Jeff Chale, Katie Chale's father.

Seattle Democrat Sharon Tomiko Santos has introduced legislation that would allow parents of adult children to sue for wrongful death.

But representatives of government and the medical industry said changes would open the door to much higher legal costs.

"We know there will be more lawsuits and again when there are more lawsuits there's concerns about liability and exposure for providers," said Lisa Thatcher of the Washington State Hospital Association.

Still, parents are asking for justice.

"They lost a little money, we lost our son and that's just outrageous," said Deanna Hogue.