Adopted Children Cannot Bring Wrongful Death or Survival Action for Biological Parents in Louisiana

On rehearing, the Louisiana Supreme Court recently reversed its prior ruling and held that a child given up for adoption does not have a right of action to assert wrongful death or survival actions for the death of their biological parent.

Rismiler v. Gemini Insurance Co. – Background

In Rismiler v. Gemini Insurance Co., 2021-ca-00313 (La. 6/30/2021), the biological father of the plaintiffs died in an accident with a tractor-trailer. The plaintiffs had been given up for adoption in their youth and adopted by their adoptive parents. They attempted to bring wrongful death and survival actions for the death of their biological father.

Louisiana Supreme Court Ruling

The Court held that term “child” in the Louisiana wrongful death and survival statutes does not include a child given up in adoption. The Court noted that as a result of adoption, the adoptive parent becomes the parent of the child for all purposes. While adopted children do qualify as children of the adoptive parents, the Court has held that children given up for adoption do not have rights pertaining to their biological parents. The Court also rejected a constitutional challenge under the equal protection clause.