10 A.2d 673 (N.H. 1940)
The subscriber suffered traumatic neurosis, an emotional injury accompanied by loss of sensation on the left side, after wires fell during a storm and caused an explosive sound in the telephone she was using. She did not claim that the company was negligent, but rather that it had a duty to maintain devices at cross-overs to prevent wires from coming into contact with a telephone wire. The two devices suggested were a wire-mesh basket suspended from the poles or insulation.
- The court examined both alternatives and found that each presented flaws and potential dangers, particularly that there was danger of electrocution in the street.
- As long as the telephone company's safety devices were properly installed and maintained, there was no danger of electrocution in the house.
- The only foreseeable danger to the telephone subscriber was fright and neurosis from noise.
- Balancing the two, the danger to those such as the subscriber was remote, while that to those on the ground near the broken wires was obvious and immediate.
- The balance would not have been improved by taking a chance to avoid traumatic neurosis at the expense of greater risk to the lives of others.
The court held that a verdict should have been directed for the company and ordered judgment in its favor.
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