Daley v. LaCroix (1970)
Court of Appeal’s affirmed the trial courts holding (directed verdict, no jury) that denies recovery for negligently causing emotional disturbance absent a showing of physical impact.
– LaCroix (Defendant) got into a ridiculous car crash, knocked down a number of high voltage lines, leading to Daley’s (Plaintiff’s) house and causing a great electrical explosion resulting in considerable property damage.
– Estelle Dailey (P) – suffered traumatic neurosis, emotional disturbance and nervous upset – Timothy Dailey (Plaintiff’s child) suffered emotional disturbance and nervousness as a result of the explosion and the attendant circumstances.
Can a plaintiff recover damages for emotional distress, lacking any physical impact?
A plaintiff who has suffered physical injury as a result of emotional distress caused by the defendant’s negligence may recover damages even in the absence of any physical impact upon the plaintiff.
– Fearing a flood of cases, courts have generally denied recovery without any physical impact:
- Where there is a definite and objective physical injury is produced as a result of emotional distress proximately caused by the D’s negligence, the P in a properly pleaded and proved action may recover in damages for such physical consequences to himself not withstanding actual physical impact.
- D’s standard of conduct is measured by reactions to be expected of normal persons.
- P has the burden of proof that the physical illness is the natural result of the fright proximately caused by the D’s conduct.
– Needs to be proven by scientific testimony, and the P’s cannot claim for mental distress which is beyond what a “normal” person would suffer.
There were sufficient facts, in light of the new rule, where a jury would be able to decide whether or not the P’s suffered emotional distress from the injury.