The old joke is that chutzpah is defined as the case of the orphan who kills his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.
A pair of Philadelphia parents, however, may redefine the idea for all time. Danieal Kelly, who suffered from crippling cerebral palsy, was 14 when she starved to death in a West Philadelphia rowhouse, covered in bedsores, weighing just 42 pounds. Her mother, “Andrea Kelly was charged with murder on July 31. Daniel Kelly, who authorities say abandoned his daughter despite knowledge of her mother’s neglect, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.” (Three friends of the mother were charged with perjury for lying to a grand jury; four social workers were also charged with felony endangerment, which will no doubt screw up incentives further for over-reacting child protective services everywhere.)
The parents responded as any parents would, and sued the city, the state, city and state agencies, and four social workers, blaming them for Kelly’s death, and seeking damages for “love, tutelage, companionship, support, comfort and consortium” as well as the “economic value of her life expectancy”–which couldn’t possibly be anything other than the taxpayer-funded disability benefits. Public outrage has caused the lawyers, Brian Mildenberg and Eric Zajac, to substitute other parties as plaintiffs so that there is no direct hint of Daniel and Andrea Kelly profiting, but the underlying appallingness of the suit remains. (Julie Shaw & Catherine Lucey, “Lawsuit by Danieal’s parents called ‘disgusting'”, Phil. Inquirer, Aug. 13; Nancy Phillips and Kia Gregory, “Danieal Kelly’s parents sue the city”, Phil. Inquirer, Aug. 13; John Sullivan and Craig R. McCoy, “Nine indicted in fatal neglect of girl”, Phil. Inquirer, Aug. 1; ongoing Inquirer coverage).