Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Waube v. Warrington case brief

Waube v. Warrington case brief summary
258 N.W. 497 (1935)

Defendant driver appealed a decision of the Circuit Court for Shawano County (Wisconsin), which found in favor of plaintiff, the administrator of a deceased mother, in an action for damages for the death of the mother, whose child who had been struck and killed by the driver.

The mother witnessed her child being struck and killed by the driver of a vehicle. She died shortly thereafter because of emotional upset.

The administrator brought an action against the driver for damages and the lower court found for the administrator.


  • The court reversed and held that the emotional distress or shock had to have been occasioned by fear of personal injury to the person sustaining the shock, and not fear of injury to his property or to the person of another. 
  • The administrator argued for the extension of the rule to cases where a defendant's conduct involved merely an unreasonable risk of causing harm to the child or spouse of the person sustaining injuries through fright or shock. 
  • The court balanced the social interests involved in order to ascertain how far a defendant's duty and a plaintiff's right might justly and expediently have been extended. 
  • The court concluded that they could neither justly nor expediently be extended to any recovery for physical injuries sustained by one out of the range of ordinary physical peril as a result of the shock of witnessing another's danger.

The court reversed the decision in favor of the administrator.

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