United States District Court, D. Minnesota
NANCY MURRAY, individually and as Independent Executor of the Estate of STEVEN MARK MURRAY, deceased, Plaintiff,
CIRRUS DESIGN CORPORATION, d/b/a CIRRUS AIRCRAFT, a corporation, Defendant.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
E. Brasel United States District Judge
products liability case resulting from a fatal airplane
crash, Defendant Cirrus Design Corporation
(“Cirrus”) argues that Plaintiff Nancy Murray,
the executor of her husband's estate, lacks standing
because she was not appointed as a trustee to bring the
action, which is required under Minnesota law. Murray does
not dispute that she was not appointed a trustee, but argues
that Texas law, not Minnesota law, governs the case, and
Texas law contains no trustee appointment requirement. For
the reasons stated below, the Court agrees that Texas law
applies and denies the motion to dismiss.
August 2015, Steven Mark Murray was piloting a Cirrus SR22
aircraft from Illinois to Arkansas, when the aircraft
experienced mechanical difficulties and crashed in Kewanee,
Illinois. [ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) at ¶¶3,
6.] Murray sustained fatal injuries in the crash.
(Id.) Murray's wife, Nancy Murray, brought this
suit in her individual capacity and as the court-appointed
Independent Executor of the Estate of Steven Mark Murray.
(Id., ¶1.) Nancy Murray (“Murray”)
is, and Steven Murray was, a resident of Texas.
(Id., ¶1.) Defendant Cirrus is incorporated in
Wisconsin and has its principal place of business in
Minnesota. (Id.) Murray asserts four claims against
Cirrus, alleging the aircraft was defectively designed and
negligently designed, manufactured, assembled, and sold.
(See generally id.) The Complaint alleges
the wrongful death of Steven Murray, stating “[h]ad
Decedent survived, he would have been entitled to bring an
action for damages, and such action has survived him.”
argues that Murray failed to petition this Court or any other
court to appoint her as trustee to bring this action, as
required by Minn. Stat. § 573.02, or that she was so
appointed before filing the Complaint. Minnesota law requires
this appointment prior to the filing of a wrongful death
When death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of any
person or corporation, the trustee appointed as provided in
subdivision 3 may maintain an action therefor if the decedent
might have maintained an action, had the decedent lived, for
an injury caused by the wrongful act or omission.
Any other action under this section may be commenced within
three years after the date of death…
Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 1. The statute also provides
the procedure for appointing the required trustee:
Upon written petition by the surviving spouse or one of the
next of kin, the court having jurisdiction of an action
falling within the provisions of subdivisions 1 or 2, shall
appoint a suitable and competent person as trustee to
commence or continue such action and obtain recovery of
damages therein. The trustee, before commencing duties shall
file a consent and oath….
Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 3. Maintaining a wrongful
death action under Minnesota law thus requires the surviving
spouse or next of kin to petition the court within three
years of the decedent's death so that the court can
appoint the trustee. Id.
does not deny that she has not been and cannot now be
properly appointed as trustee under Minn. Stat. §
573.02. Rather, she asserts that Texas's wrongful death
statute governs the claims under Minnesota's choice of
law analysis, and Texas law has no such trustee appointment
requirement. Under Texas's wrongful death statute,
“[a]n action for actual damages arising from an injury
that causes an individual's death may be brought if
liability exists under this section.” Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code § 71.002(a). The statute sets forth the
persons who may benefit from and bring a wrongful death
(a) An action to recover damages as provided by this
subchapter is for the exclusive benefit of the surviving
spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
(b) The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the
deceased may bring the action or one or more of those
individuals may bring ...