Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grube v. Union Pacific Railroad case brief

Grube v. Union Pacific Railroad case brief summary
886 P.2d 845 (1994)

Appellant railroad company sought review from a judgment of the Wyandotte District Court (Kansas), which held in favor of appellee employee in the employee's action to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C.S. § 51 et seq. (1988).

The railroad company challenged the trial court's award of damages to an employee for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The employee, who was a train engineer, allegedly suffered emotional distress after the train he was driving hit a car that was stalled on railroad tracks.

  • Finding that the employee failed to establish an essential element of the zone of danger test, the court reversed the judgment. 
  • Essential elements for recovery under the zone of danger test were that the employee be within the zone of danger and suffer imminent apprehension of physical harm which caused or contributed to the emotional injury. 
  • The employee's emotional injury did not result from fear of his personal safety. 
  • The employee argued that the physical impact he experienced at the point of collision brought him within the zone of danger test. 
  • Physical impact under the zone of danger test contemplated an impact relating to the resulting emotional distress. 
  • The employee testified that he had no fear for his personal safety and that the impact he experienced did not cause his physical injury nor did it have any effect on his resulting severe emotional distress.


The court reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of the employee and entered judgment for the railroad company.

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