Welcome to the National Center for Victims of Crime

We are the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. Please join us as we forge a national commitment to help victims of crime rebuild their lives.

Return to the Case Law Sample List


Pavlick v. Pavlick
491 S.E.2d 602, Va., VA, 09/12/1997
Category Victim v. Perpetrator 
Topic Special Victims 
Filename Child Victims 
Crime Child Abuse; Homicide 
Location Residence 
Prevailing Party Plaintiff (in part) 
Other Parties None 

Statement of Facts: The plaintiff, Shari Pavlick, as Administratrix of Justin Pavlick's estate, brought a wrongful death action against Thomas Pavlick, Jr. Thomas and Shari were Justin's parents. Justin died at the age of approximately two months while in his father's care. Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder in Justin's death. Shari alleged in the wrongful death action that Justin died as a result of Thomas' negligence or, in the alternative, Thomas' intentional act. Shari filed a motion for judgment, and Thomas filed a plea to the motion for judgment, asserting that he was immune from suit under the doctrine of intra-family immunity. The trial court sustained the plea and dismissed the plaintiff's motion for judgment. She appealed. Holding: The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court declined to overrule previous court decisions and denied the plaintiff's request to abrogate the rule of intra-family immunity completely. However, the Court recognized an exception to the rule of intra-family immunity when a child's death results from the intentional act of a parent. No Virginia case had applied the rule of intra-family immunity to an intentional tort committed by a parent against a child. Thus, to recognize an exception with respect to an intentional tort by a parent resulting in the death of a child would neither disturb established precedent nor offend principles of stare decisis. Furthermore, such an exception was supported by public policy. Thus, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment to the extent that it sustained the plea of intra-family immunity with respect to the defendant's alleged negligence. However, the Court reversed the judgment to the extent that it failed to recognize an exception to the rule of intra-family immunity that would have allowed recovery against the defendant for the death of his unemancipated child as a result of his allegedly intentional act. 

Damage Award None 
Victim's Counsel     
Plaintiff's Counsel Not listed 
Plaintiff's Expert      
Defense Counsel Not listed 
Defense Expert

The National Center for Victims of Crime, All rights reserved