Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Judge Nealon Allows NIED Claim To Proceed in Med Mal Case


In his recent October 19, 2015 decision, in the case of Euceda v. Green, No. 13-Civil-3373 (Lacka. Co. Oct. 19, 2015 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment filed against a Plaintiff’s negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claim in the context of a medical malpractice case.  

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff-mother made a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress after witnessing the traumatic birth of her son who was born with a severely misshaped and bruised head allegedly as a result of the Defendants’ negligence.  The Plaintiff-mother also allegedly witnessed the postpartum seizures that her son suffered, the neonatal resuscitation and intubation that her son required, other treatment administered to her son, and her son’s eventual death in her arms eight (8) days after his birth.

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
Judge Nealon also noted that there is evidence in the record allegedly showing that, as a result of the Plaintiff-mother’s contemporaneous observance of the above incidents, the Plaintiff-mother continued to experience severe depression, bouts of hysterical sobbing, inability to breath, nausea, insomnia, and nightmares about her son’s delivery, physical appearance at birth, and death.

The Defendants in this medical malpractice action filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss the Plaintiff-mother’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress on the basis that the Plaintiff-mother could not demonstrate her physical manifestation of her emotional distress and given that the Plaintiff-mother had not received any psychiatric or psychological care for her depression.

Judge Nealon denied the motion and allowed the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress to proceed.

The court ruled, in part, that, although it was undisputed that the Plaintiff-mother had not received any professional medical treatment for her depression for emotional state, or emotional state, the court found that medical evidence is not required to sustain a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. In this regard, Judge Nealon cited to Krysmalski by Krysmalski v. Tarasovich, 622 A.2d 298, 305 (Pa. Super. 1993), appeal denied, 636 A.2d 634 (Pa. 1993) [other citations omitted].

Moreover, Judge Nealon found that the bodily symptoms evidence in the record before the court as reportedly sustained by the Plaintiff-mother on a recurrent basis served to satisfy the "physical manifestation" requirement for a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania law.

Accordingly, the court ruled that the Defendants had not established that the mother’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress was fatally deficient. The Motion for Partial Summary Judgment was denied and the claim was allowed to proceed.


Anyone wishing to review Judge Nealon's decision in Euceda may click this LINK.


 
 

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