Lawsuit Over Western Nebraska Crash Will Invoke Fetal Death Law


A Nebraska law that extends legal protections to fetuses at any stage of development is being used in a wrongful-death lawsuit in the case of a western Nebraska crash that killed an entire family, including a pregnant woman.

This will be the first time the law has been invoked in a case since it became law in 2003.

The federal lawsuit was filed by the parents of Christopher and Diana Schmidt, a Maryland couple killed along with their two children and unborn son in September. The lawsuit cites a 2003 Nebraska law allowing wrongful death claims for fetuses, regardless of their gestation level.

Though still in district court, similar laws have led to appeals-court battles in Utah and Alabama and could bring the debate to Nebraska.

The suit accuses trucker Josef Slezak, his employer and two other trucking companies of negligence and wrongful death. It doesn't seek a specific dollar amount.