peculiarly subject to the power and duty of the trial judge to consider same with a view to the bounds of reasonable probability. It might be said that this rule leaves much to be determined as to certainty, but it is not altogether a stranger to tort actions in general. Verdicts in personal injury suits, * * * differ materially in cases where the circumstances are not dissimilar.
'Under the rule in this State, a parent, on the finding of negligence causing the death of a minor son, is entitled to a substantial verdict.'
In Atkeson v. Jackson Estate, 72 Wash. 233, 240-241, 130 P. 102, 105, the Court in sustaining an award of substantial damages for the death of a child two years old, discussed this subject as follows: 'It may be that, had the daughter reached her majority, and had the respondents maintained their present financial condition and carried out their expectations concerning her, the expense of her care, nurture, and education would have exceeded her earnings on their behalf. But, since adversity and misfortune are sometimes the accompaniments of life, as well as prosperity and success, there is another side to the picture. It is possible that the respondents may lose the property they have accumulated, and at the same time their health and ability to earn money. If such a misfortune should befall them, might it not be said that the daughter's earnings, had she lived, would have greatly exceeded her cost of maintenance? And who shall say that such a misfortune may not befall them? And if the probability exists, why may not a recovery be based thereon? There is, of course, no certain measure of damages in cases of this character; but, notwithstanding this difficulty, the great weight of authority is that a substantial recovery may be had.'(Emphasis ours.)
To multiply quotations would unduly extend this discussion. It will suffice to cite a few additional cases which enunciate the same principle, Clevenger v. Kern, 100 Ind.App. 581, 584, 197 N.E. 731; Immel v. Richards, 154 Ohio St. 52, 53-56, 93 N.E.2d 474, Jasper County Lumber Co. v. McMillan, Tex. Civ. App., 188 S.W.2d 731.
Counsel for the defendant refers to three cases which tend to support a contrary view.
These decisions are in the minority. As indicated above, the great weight of authority sustains the doctrine that substantial damages should be awarded for the wrongful death of a child of tender age, even though the amount of damages cannot be computed with any degree of certainty. Moreover, as also shown above, the District of Columbia adheres to the majority view.
Clearly the amount of the verdict in this case is not excessive. It does not shock the Court's conscience. In determining what constitutes a reasonable amount of damages the shrinking purchasing power of the dollar must be borne in mind. Juries are properly sensitive to this consideration. A day-to-day observation leads the Court to the view that because of this circumstance the size of verdicts in tort cases has increased considerably in the past few years, and properly so. As far back as 1888, a verdict of $ 1,000 for the death of a four-month old child was upheld in City of Joliet v. Weston, 1888, 123 Ill. 641, 14 N.E. 665; and in the following year a verdict of $ 2,000 for the death of a one-year old child was sustained in Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul ry. Co. v. Wilson, 1889, 35 Ill.App. 346. Bearing in mind the difference between the value of money in the 1880's and its present value, a verdict over sixty years ago of one or two thousand dollars is equivalent to one for many times that amount as of today.
In 1906 a verdict for $ 2,160 for the death of a child less than a year old was sustained in Abby v. Wood, 43 Wash. 379, 86 P. 558.
In 1924 a verdict for $ 8,000 for the death of two children,- one two years old and the other seven months old- , was upheld by a Texas court, Schaff v. Young, Tex. Civ. App., 264 S.W. 582, 585.
More recently a verdict for $ 5,000 for the death of a nine months old baby was sustained in Immel v. Richards, 154 Ohio St. 52, 53-56, 93 N.E.2d 474.
In 1936 a verdict of $ 6,000 for the death of a twelve-day old baby was upheld in Criss v. Angelus Hospital Ass'n. 13 Cal.App.2d 412, 420, 56 P.2d 1274. The Court stated that it would take judicial notice of the decrease in purchasing power of money. An award of $ 6,000 in 1936 would be equal to one of over $ 12,000 in 1951 or 1952.
In Couch v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 80 Cal.App.2d 857, 183 P.2d 91, 97, a verdict of $ 27,500 for the death of a ten-month old child was reduced by the trial judge to $ 15,000. The appellate court affirmed the action of the trial judge stating that, 'We cannot say that the sum allowed by the court is excessive.' This decision was rendered in 1947 when the purchasing power of money was somewhat higher than it is today.
It seems unnecessary to multiply citations on this point. The verdict in this case is clearly within reasonable bounds, certainly as compared with verdicts in other jurisdictions in similar cases.
The Court is of the opinion that substantial justice has been done.
Motion for a new trial is denied.