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Burgess v.Superior Court Case Brief

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					In the case of Burgess v. Superior Court (2 Cal.4th 1064, 9 Cal.Rptr.2d 615, 831 P.2d 1197 (1192), a mother delivered a baby and the obstetrician negligently caused the child to suffer brain damage. Burgess sued for damage to the baby, but also for emotional distress.
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The Court held that there are two classes of emotional distress claims: o Where the plaintiff is a bystander who has no preexisting relationship with the defendant. o Where the plaintiff is in a relationship (here doctorpatient) and the claim is based on a breach of duty assumed by the defendant that arises out of the relationship. For bystander claims, the rule for liability is described in Thing v. LaChusa. For special relationship claims like this one, liability is based on the relationship between the parties. o Both parties understood that a physician owes a duty to a pregnant woman not to negligently damage her baby. Basically, if you are in a preexisting relationship with someone, and are deemed responsible for their happiness, you can be held liable for emotional distress because you have a duty to care about their happiness.

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posted:1/29/2008
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