This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


Roberta L. Belisle,


Nova Barha Dori, et al.,

Filed November 16, 1999
Shumaker, Judge

Hennepin County District Court
File No. 9812441

Michael J. Orme, John J. Todd, Orme & Associates, Ltd., 3140 Neil Armstrong Blvd., Suite 203, Eagan, MN 55121 (for appellant)

B. Jon Lilleberg, Matthew M. Johnson, Johnson & Condon, P.A., Financial Plaza, 7235 Ohms Lane, Minneapolis, MN 55439-2151 (for respondents Dori, et al.)

Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant Roberta L. Belisle challenges summary judgment in favor of respondents Nova Barha Dori, et al., arguing that the common law right to claim loss of consortium should be expanded to include unmarried persons. We affirm.


Richard Larson was killed when his motorcycle collided with a rented sport utility vehicle driven by respondent Dori. Appellant Belisle had lived with Larson in Minnesota for 14 years immediately prior to his death. Although the couple were not legally married, they held themselves out as husband and wife and had planned to marry.

Asserting a claim for loss of consortium, Belisle sued respondents on grounds of negligence and gross negligence. The district court granted respondents' motion for summary judgment, ruling that a loss of consortium claim is available only to married persons. The court also held that a loss-of-consortium claim is derivative and is allowable only if the other spouse recovers damages.

In her appeal, Belisle urges this court to expand Minnesota law to permit her loss-of-consortium claim.


"A cause of action arising out of an injury to the person dies with the person," except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 573.02 (1998), the wrongful death statute. Minn. Stat. § 573.01. Therefore, the only remedy available for claims resulting from decedent's death would fall under the wrongful death statute, which provides that "recovery in the action * * * shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin * * * ." Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 1.

Because Belisle and Larson were not married when Larson died, she cannot recover under the wrongful death statute. Contending that loss of consortium is a common law claim, she urges us to ignore the statute. She argues that the development of the common law is properly within the sphere of judicial responsibility and authority.

Belisle is not asking us to clarify existing law or to determine whether an existing law extends to unique facts. Rather, she urges this court to create a new common law claim. Authority to create new law rests in the legislature and the supreme court. Tereault v. Palmer, 413 N.W.2d 283, 286 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Dec. 18, 1987). This court, as an error-correcting court, is without authority to change the law. Lake George Park, L.L.C. v. IBM Mid-America Employees Fed. Credit Union, 576 N.W.2d 463, 466 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. June 17, 1998). It is not the function of this court to establish new causes of action, even when such actions appear to have merit. Stubbs v. North Mem'l Med. Ctr., 448 N.W.2d 78, 81 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Jan. 12, 1990). Under current Minnesota law, the right to claim loss of consortium extends only to a spouse. Lefto v. Hoggsbreath Enters., Inc., 567 N.W.2d 746, 750 (Minn. App. 1997), aff'd, 581 N.W.2d 855 (Minn. 1998). We are bound by that law and must apply it here.

Because we lack authority to create a new cause of action, we do not reach the merits of Belisle's argument that the common law should reflect societal changes and should recognize the right of unmarried persons to claim loss of consortium.

The district court did not err in concluding that current Minnesota law does not extend the right to claim loss of consortium to unmarried persons.