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Court: Same-sex partner can pursue claim in toddler's death

Last Updated Aug 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm EDT

TRENTON, N.J. – A woman whose same-sex partner’s biological daughter was killed in a New Jersey traffic accident can seek damages for emotional distress even though she and the other woman weren’t married or in a civil union.

An appeals court issued that ruling on Friday, reversing a lower court’s decision.

The 2-year-old was killed in 2009 when a firetruck and a pickup truck collided while she was waiting to cross a street in Trenton to see a “Disney on Ice” show at Sun Bank Arena.

A lower court had ruled Valerie Benning couldn’t sue for infliction of emotional distress because she hadn’t shown she had a “genuinely intimate bond” with the child.

Friday’s ruling held that a jury could find Benning was a “de facto mother” to the girl.