P's son was hit by a car and injured. P was nearby, and was called to the scene.
P thought her son was dead, and claimed to suffer great emotional disturbance, shock, and injury as a result.
Trial court granted D's motion for summary judgment, ruling that, as a matter of law, P could not establish a claim because she did not contemporaneously and sensorily perceive the accident.
Supreme Court affirmed the granting of summary judgment.
Can a P who did not witness an accident in which D struck and injured her child recover for damages from the negligent driver for the emotional distress she suffered when she got to the scene of the accident?
A plaintiff may recover damages for emotional distress caused by observing the negligently inflicted injury of a third person if P:
Is closely related to the injury victim;
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
As a result suffers serious emotional distress--a reaction beyond that which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness and which is not an abnormal response to the circumstances.
Court goes through CA history of these types of claims.
Siliznoff- claims limited to circumstances in which P was himself injured ("impact rule") or if P had been in the "zone of danger" but did not suffer injury.
Amaya- Damages could not be recovered by persons outside the zone of danger created by the D's negligence even when that shock was reflected in physiological symptoms.
Dillon- overruled Amaya. Gave a vague rule, saying there could be no bright line test for foreseeability, and that courts had to make sure Ds weren't "infinitely liable" for injuries.
Molien- "direct victims" of the defendant's negligence could bring suit. Tortious conduct directed at the victim and was also reasonably foreseeable.
Court wants to create a more certain and reasonable limit on the exposure to liability for negligent conduct.
Drawing arbitrary lines is unavoidable if the goal is to limit liability. The overwhelming majority of emotional distress which we endure is not compensable.
The P was not present at the scene of the accident. She did not observe D's conduct and was not aware that her son was being injured. Therefore, D is not liable to P.
For third-person bystander liability, look at Dillon jurisdiction v. Thing jurisdiction
Is P closely related to the injury victim?
Is P present at the scene of the injury-producing event at the time it occurs and is then aware that it is causing an injury to the victim
Does P suffer serious emotional distress (a reaction beyond that which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness and which is not an abnormal response to the circumstances).
Foreseeability was key.
No necessity of having serious emotional distress.