DutyOfCare_MentalDisturbanceAndResultingInjury-Thing_v_LaChusa by aiowmnyv



Page 452

Thing v. La Chusa, Supreme Court of CA, 1989


Can the mother recover for the emotional distress caused her by seeing her son after the accident and thinking he was dead?

Normally, courts use the foreseeability test; but policy considerations need to limit infinite liability – need to narrow the class of potential ∏. Amaya: damages could not be recovered by persons outside the zone of danger even when shock is reflected in physiological symptoms. Dillon: Mother witnessed child’s death, but could not recover because she was not endangered by ∆’s actions – but sister could recover because she was in the danger zone and suffered emotional distress – she could’ve been endangered. Molien: Duty was owed to the husband – foreseeable harm to him. But in Dillon, mother was bystander rather than a direct victim. The distinction between bystander and direct-victim was confusing. Dillon said: have to take on a case-by-case basis – can’t come up with rule. Foreseeability test was too difficult – Foreseeability is endless. Close relatives, are likely to suffer a lot more than others. Seeing the traumatic cause is a lot more impacfult than just hearing about it or just seeing the resultant injury. Severe emotional distress is an unavoidable aspect of the “human condition”. caused by observing

A ∏ can recover damages for emotional distress

(2) upon hearing of the accident, ∏ (the mother) rushed to accident site when her daughter told her about it.

negligently inflicted injury on a 3rd person

(1) ∏’s son John was injured when hit by ∆’s car.

If and only if o o o ∏ is closely related to injury victim Is present at scene at time and is aware that event is causing injury to victim As a result suffers serious emotional distress o o Beyond what which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness Not abnormal response under circumstances

(3) ∏ suffered severe distress when she saw her son on the ground and thought he was dead.

Held Procedure P argues D argues

Reversed court of appeals – mother didn’t see it. Action for emotional distress on grounds that ∆’s negligence was the proximate cause. Trial court granted summary judgment to ∆ because she did not see the accident. Court of appeals reversed. ∆ appeals.

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