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Levy v. Louisiana

The Levy Family

Louise Levy gave birth to five illegitimate children. They all lived with her and she raised them as any parent would. For an income, Levy worked as a domestic servant. They routinely attended church every Sunday and were enrolled at a parochial school at the family expense. Upon her death, one son, Adolph J. Levy, filed a wrongful death suit under a Louisiana law on behalf of all five children. The suit was against the doctor who treated the mother and the insurance company. Levy claimed two types of damages, the loss of their mother and their pain and suffering.

The Louisiana District Court dismissed the case because of their birth circumstance. The appeals court, in affirming the district court's decision, held that an illegitimate child was not a surviving "child" under state law. Intent of the law was to maintain acceptable "morals and general welfare" by discouraging child birth out of wedlock. After the state supreme court denied the case, Levy appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Levy v. Louisiana - Significance, The Levy Family, An Important Reversal: Illegitimate Children As Persons, An Important Reversal