Friday, March 22, 2019

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim Allowed to Proceed in Medical Malpractice Claim

In the case of Murga v. Lehigh Valley Physicians Group, No. 2016-C-1691 (C.P. Leh. Co. Nov. 26, 2018 Johnson, J.), the court found that the Defendants were not entitled to summary judgment on the Plaintiff’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress because the Plaintiff sought relief under multiple plausible theories and given that the case for summary judgment was not free and clear from doubt.  

In this matter, the Plaintiff alleged a medical malpractice claim against the Defendants for negligent infliction of emotional distress in connection with a miscarriage that the Plaintiff had suffered.  

The Defendants moved for a partial summary judgment, arguing that the Plaintiff’s negligent infliction of emotional distress claim failed because her alleged emotional injuries were not foreseeable and given that the Plaintiff allegedly did not observe a discrete traumatic event contemporaneously with the Defendants’ alleged negligence.   The Defendants also argued that a buffer of time and space existed in connection with the Plaintiff’s miscarriage and the delivery of her deceased fetus.  

In response, the Plaintiff argued that her claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress was appropriate under multiple theories of recovery, including a duty of care arising from a special relationship, under the physical impact theory, as well as under the bystander theory.  

The court denied summary judgment finding that it was not free and clear from doubt that the Defendants were entitled to the same.   The court cited to numerous Pennsylvania cases which permitted recovery for negligent infliction of emotional distress under the various theories asserted by the Plaintiff under similar circumstances.   

As such, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants was denied.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 26, 2019).  

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