Should courts support a negligence cause of action where the injury is purely economic? If so, how far should courts extend the boundaries of the negligent actor's liability?
Notes: The defendants' negligence led to the risk of a tank car exploding. The business operations of plaintiff's airline—which was within a one-mile radius of the tank car—was interrupted due to a forced evacuation by municipal authorities. Ultimately, no explosion resulted and there was no property damage suffered by the plaintiff. However, plaintiff sued the defendants on the theory that their negligence resulted in economic loss due to the disruption of plaintiff's business activities.
Should plaintiffs be allowed to sue for emotional distress which is not connected to any physical injury?
Notes: 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.
When a public utility fails to provide its services, should it be liable for possible economic harm flowing from the disruption in service?
Notes: Defendant electric-power company negligently caused a blackout. Plaintiff municipality sued for the increased overtime wages of police, fire, sanitation and hospital personnel as a consequence of the blackout; other plaintiffs sued for lost sales, transfers, transactions, tolls and fares not paid; and lastly, some plaintiffs sued for property damage resulting from looting and vandalism by rioters.
Should plaintiffs be able to recover damages solely for the emotional distress they feel while watching a loved one suffer and die?
Notes: 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.
If a plaintiff is harmed by a public utility's breach of contract to a third-party, should the public utility be liable?
Notes: Plaintiff lived in an apartment managed by the defendant realty company. During a blackout caused by the defendant electric-power company, plaintiff was injured while going down stairs located in the apartment's common area. The plaintiff had a contract with the defendant power company for electricity in his apartment unit. However, power to the apartment's common areas was provided under a separate contract between the defendant power company and defendant realty company.
Should people be allowed to recover for the emotional distress they feel when their pets are injured?
Notes: 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.
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?
Notes: 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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