Thing v. La Chusa case brief
California Supreme 1989
Facts: A mother did not witness her child get hit by a truck but suffered emotional distress when she arrived on scene, question of whether she should recover. She thought son was dead and that is where the distress came from. Dillon (previous case) created a test of whether it should have been foreseen by defendant such an accident would cause emotional distress. Part of that foreseeability duty was whether plaintiff was located near, whether shock resulted as a direct emotional impact from sensory info, and whether there was a relationship btwn plaintiff and person struck.
Decision: Appeals decision reversed, summary judgment should have been granted for the defendant.
Reasoning: Discussed Dillon and other precedents and difference between direct victims and bystanders since bystanders cannot recovery under the same rules. Found that cohabitation without marriage is not a close enough relationship. Using very arbitrary rules under social policy guidelines saying that holding people liable for these injuries will, in many cases, just be unfair. They do not want unlimited liability for people. Said that when a loved ones conduct was cause of emotional trauma, there can be no recovery. Persons unrelated may never recover even if extent of emotional distress is huge. So to recover, requires close relation to victim, present at the scene at time of the injury-producing event and aware it causes injury and suffers serious emotional distress. Requires observation of negligently inflicted injury. Mom didn’t see injury.
Holding: A plaintiff may recover for damages from a negligent infliction of emotional distress by the defendant if present at the scene of the injury causing event and aware of the injury, plus a strong relationship to person, coupled with serious emotional distress.