XIV.A. Emotional Harm | Jonathan Zittrain | December 21, 2012


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XIV.A. Emotional Harm

by Jonathan Zittrain Show/Hide
  1. 1 Show/Hide More Falzone v. Busch--"The Almost Automobile Accident"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should plaintiffs be allowed to sue for emotional distress which is not connected to any physical injury?
    Plaintiff was seated in her husband's automobile when she saw a negligently driven automobile strike her husband—who was standing nearby. The plaintiff was almost struck by the negligent driver as well. She sued for the distress felt while apprehending a collision between the defendant and herself.
  2. 2 Show/Hide More Portee v. Jaffee--"The Child Dying in the Elevator"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should plaintiffs be able to recover damages solely for the emotional distress they feel while watching a loved one suffer and die?
    A seven-year-old boy became trapped between the outer door of an elevator and the wall of the elevator shaft. The elevator is activated and drags the boy's body up three stories. A child sees the trapped boy and runs to find help. Soon after, his mother—the plaintiff—and police officers arrive. Officers tried to free the boy for four hours, to no avail. Throughout the ordeal, the boy cried out and flailed his arms. His mother was restrained from touching him, to prevent interference with the rescue efforts. The boy died while still trapped, his mother a helpless observer. After her son's death, the plaintiff became depressed and unsuccessfully attempted suicide by slitting her own wrist. The plaintiff sued the defendant property owner for negligence in failing to provide a safe elevator.
  3. 3 Show/Hide More Pizarro v. 421 Port Associates--"The Decapitating Elevator"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should plaintiffs be allowed to recover for the emotional distress they feel when they witness a nearby stranger getting hurt?
    An elevator malfunctions, decapitating one of the passengers. The head landed near the feet of the plaintiff, who was also a passenger of the elevator.
  4. 4 Show/Hide More Roman v. Carroll--"The Dismembered Poodle"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should people be allowed to recover for the emotional distress they feel when their pets are injured?
    Plaintiff watched defendant's St. Bernard dismember her poodle while walking her dog near her home. The poodle died two days later. The plaintiff sued for the shock from witnessing the incident and for the danger she felt during the attack.
  5. 5 Show/Hide More Gammon v. Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, Inc.--"The Severed Leg in the Bodybag"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should the plaintiff be able to recover for emotional distress, despite the lack of risk of physical harm nor the mishandling of a relative's corpse?
    Plaintiff was accidentally given a severed leg along with the personal effects of his deceased father. He initially mistook the leg as belonging to his father, but eventually discovered the leg was a pathology specimen removed from another body and returned it. Plaintiff alleged that the incident caused him to experience nightmares for the first time in his life, his personality to change, and his relationship with his family to deteriorate.

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February 17, 2014

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