Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Brandon v. County of Richardson case brief

Brandon v. County of Richardson case brief summary
624 N.W.2d 604 (2001)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant brought an action against appellees for negligence, wrongful death, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The District Court for Richardson County (Nebraska) found appellee county negligent and awarded economic and noneconomic damages. The court then reduced the damage award, and denied recovery on the intentional tort claim. Appellant sought review, and appellees filed a cross-appeal.

CASE FACTS
Appellant brought a claim for wrongful death against appellees county and county sheriff for failure to protect her daughter, who was killed by the two men who had raped her six days earlier. Appellant also alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress against appellee sheriff for his actions when interviewing the victim. The trial court awarded economic and noneconomic damages, but reduced the award by 85 percent, and denied the emotional distress claim.

DISCUSSION

  • The supreme court affirmed the finding that appellee county had a duty to protect the victim and failed to discharge that duty. 
  • The court reversed the reduction of damages, as comparative negligence law did not allow for allocation of damages to the acts of intentional tort-feasors. 
  • The court also held that appellee sheriff's conduct was extreme and outrageous, and that the award of zero damages for appellant's loss of society shocked the conscience. 
  • The court therefore remanded to determine whether the deceased suffered severe emotional distress and, if so, whether the sheriff's conduct was a proximate cause; to award damages accordingly; and to redetermine damages for appellant's loss of society.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the finding of negligence on the part of appellee county and affirmed the damage award; the court reversed the reduction of damages and reversed the finding that appellee sheriff's conduct was not extreme and outrageous. The court remanded for findings regarding emotional distress and causation, and for redetermination of damages for loss of society.

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