Monday, June 22, 2015

Current Status of Law on Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Reviewed by Western District Federal Court

In the case of Rapchak v. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., 2:13-cv-1307 W.D. Pa. June 10, 2015 McVerry, J.), the court addressed the current status of the Pennsylvania law relative to negligent infliction of emotional distress claims.

In this matter, the decedent was working under his motorhome in his driveway by lying on his back while the vehicle was lifted up.  While the decedent was in this position, his mother came out of the home and said goodbye as she was leaving to visit a car show with a friend.  While the decedent's mother was away from the home, the motorhome came down on the decedent's chest and suffocated him to death. 

When the mother came home later that day she eventually found the decedent under the motorhome with his legs sticking out.

The Plaintiff-mother later filed suit and included a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Rapchak court granted partial summary judgment, finding that a plaintiff cannot recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress where she did not contemporaneously observe the accident that resulted in the decedent's death.  

The court's decision, which provides a nice recitation of the current status of the bystander theory of recovery under the claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress can be viewed online HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Jim Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith.  Attorney Beck is the creator of the excellent Drug and Device Law Blog which can be viewed HERE.

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