Brief Fact Summary. Appellant Borelli, entered into a contract with her late husband to provide nursing care for him at home in exchange for property. Appellant’s husband did not leave her the promised property in his will. Appellant is bringing this claim against Appellee Brusseau, also the executor of her husband’s estate, to recover the promised property.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Contracts between spouses to provide care during illness in exchange for compensation violate public policy.
The trial court instructed the jury that the husband could recover, as wrongful death damages, for the loss of his wife's love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace or moral support, any loss of enjoyment of sexual relations, or any loss of her physical assistance in the operation or maintenance of the home.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does a contract for a spouse to provide care for an ill spouse in exchange for compensation violate public policy?
Held. Yes. A contract for a spouse to provide care for an ill spouse in exchange for compensation violates public policy.
Spouses have a duty to support each other. This duty includes caring for an ill spouse. Because a spouse already has a duty to provide care for an ill spouse, to allow a spouse to contract for compensation in exchange providing that care would violate public policy.
Appellant argues that the public policy invalidation of such contract is based on “outdated views of the role of women and marriage.” The Court disagrees pointing out that public policy invalidation has been applied to both husbands and wives in various areas of law.
Dissent. The dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority on several points. First, the dissent does not find a preexisting duty for spouses to provide the type of nursing care involved in the present case. Second, the dissent argues that the policy is inconsistent with modern attitudes and mores. Third, the dissenting opinion argues that spouses should be able to contract with each other in the same way as non-married persons. Fourth, the dissent makes a distinction between the duty to care for an ill spouse and the duty to personally care for an ill spouse
Discussion. In the present case, the Court holds that a contract between Appellant and her husband for Appellant to care for him in exchange for property violates public policy.