Thing v. La Chusa Case Brief

Summary of Thing v. La Chusa, 48 Cal. 3d 644 (1989)

Facts: P’s child was hit by a vehicle driven by D. P did not witness the accident but she was near the scene. On being informed, P went to the scene and saw her child covered with blood. At the moment, P though that her child was dead. P brought suit against D for emotional harm she suffered.

Procedure: The trial judge granted D’s motion for summary judgment, but he Court of Appeal reversed that decision.

Issue: Can a mother collect for emotional distress even though she did not witness her child’s accident?

Holding: No

Rationale: According to the court, the Dillon v. Legg rule that set out the foreseeability standard in Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, should be overruled because it has cause a lot of confusion and extremely extended the scope of liability. The court sets out a new 3 prong test. In order to recover for NIED, plaintiff must prove that she is 1. closely related to the injured victim 2. is present at the scene of the injury-producing event at the time it occurs and is then aware that it is causing injury to the victim, and 3. as a result, she suffers emotional distress beyond that which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness. In the current case, P did not witness the accident. Reversed.

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