An interesting decision yesterday from the Minnesota Court of Appeals in In the Matter of Appointment of Trustee for Next of Kin of Ombabi:
Nadir Ibrahim Ombabi was a taxi driver in Minnesota and a Minnesota resident. He married respondent Nariman Sirag Elsayed Khalil in Sudan, under the Islamic law of Sudan. He died in an accident in Minnesota. His estate brought a wrongful-death claim, which settled for $183,000 in Minnesota.
But how to split the money? Minnesota law says that any recovery “shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin, proportionate to the pecuniary loss severally suffered by the death.” (Other states do things differently.) In this case, the court concluded that the wife was entitled to the entire amount, less expenses, because there was “no credible evidence to prove” that the other next of kin “experienced a pecuniary loss, or more importantly what that pecuniary loss is, because of Mr. Ombabi’s passing.”
Ombabi’s brother (Hosameldin Ibrahim Imbabi), however, disagreed. He “argued that the district court should apply Islamic law and, after payment of expenses from the settlement proceeds, distribute 25% of the proceeds to [Ombabi’s widow], 16.7% to Ombabi’s mother’s estate, and the remaining proceeds to Ombabi’s siblings, with the males to receive ‘twice the share of the female.’ ”