Johnson v. Jamaica Hospital Case Brief

Summary of Johnson v. Jamaica Hospital

Facts: P’s are parent of a girl who was born in D’s hospital and was abducted from the nursery by a stranger; she was recovered four months later; P sued to recover for E.D. suffered in the interim, alleging hospitals negligence; trial ct. for P, appeal for P

Holding: NY Ct. of Appeals revered, FOR D

Rule: Absent a duty upon which liability can be based, there is no right of recovery for mental distress resulting from the breach of a contract-related duty.

Reason: There was no duty between the hospital and the P to care for P’s child, and that the abduction was foreseeable. The direct injury allegedly caused by D’s negligence-abduction- was sustained by the infant, and P’s grief and mental torment which resulted from her disappearance are not actionable. Forseeability of the abduction does not serve to establish a duty and in the absence of such a duty as a matter of law there can be no liability.

DISSENT: Parents were under the apprehension that the child may be under the immediate risk of physical harm. There is a sufficient guarantee of genuineness and seriousness of their claim to warrant its submission to a trier of fact.

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