Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Court Addresses Current Status of Law of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress


In the case of Watkins v. UPMC Jameson, No. 30002 of 2020 C.A. (C.P. Lawr. Co. Oct. 8, 2020 Cox, J.), the court held that, where the Plaintiff alleged that the medical Defendant did not provide her with proper treatment when she appeared at the hospital at 26 weeks gestation and that proper treatment could have prevented the child’s death, the Plaintiff was found to have sufficiently alleged a duty of care owed to her and a breach of that duty, and had also asserted a viable claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Part of the court’s decision centered around the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The court in this Watkins case noted that the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of Turner v. Medical Center, Beaver Pa., 686 A.2d 830 (Pa. 1996), had acknowledged that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had abandoned the zone of danger concept and had instead adopted a doctrine based upon the foreseeability of the injury in negligent infliction of emotional distress claims.

Here, the Plaintiff had alleged the existence of a contract or a fiduciary relationship as she had received medical care from the Defendants.

The court noted that the Plaintiff had alleged that proper treatment could have prevented her child’s death. The court found that it was clearly foreseeable that the Plaintiff will be traumatized by giving birth of a child at just 26 weeks into her pregnancy and observing that child in distress prior to the child’s death.

Accordingly, the court found that the Plaintiff had properly alleged a duty of care owed to her by the Defendant and an alleged breach of that duty.

However, with respect to the claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress at issue, the court found that the allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint regarding the physical impact or injury element were not specific enough. As such, the court granted the Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 24, 2020).

No comments:

Post a Comment