Sunday, December 8, 2013

Graves v. Estabrook case brief

Graves v. Estabrook case brief summary
818 A.2d 1255 (2003)

Plaintiff fiancee appealed a ruling of the superior court, Hillsborough-southern judicial district (New Hampshire), which granted defendant driver's motion to dismiss her complaint for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED).

The fiancee, who had lived with the fiance for seven years, was driving directly behind her fiance and observed the driver collide with the fiance's motorcycle. The fiancee stopped her car and rushed to her fiance's aid, observing blood and severe head trauma. The fiance died the next day and the fiancee instituted an action against the driver, alleging NIED. The trial court dismissed the action, finding that the fiancee could not recover for NIED because she was not related by blood or marriage to the decedent.


  • On appeal, the court reversed and remanded. 
  • The court held that the fiancee could recover for NIED as a result of witnessing the collision. 
  • New Hampshire followed the traditional foreseeability test in lieu of a bright-line rule in the context of determining whether recovery for NIED was permissible, citing the bright-line rule as both under and over-inclusive. 
  • In applying the traditional foreseeability analysis, it was reasonable to infer that in the course of their lengthy cohabitation the fiancee and her fiance enjoyed mutual dependence, common contributions to a life together, emotional reliance on each other, and attended to life's mundane requirements together.
The court reversed the decision of the trial court and remanded the case.

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