New CA Tort Case

emotional distress torts May 16, 2023

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Can a Relative Who Hears a Car Crash on the Phone Recover Emotional Distress Damages?
Can a mother who was talking on the phone with her daughter when her daughter was injured in a car crash recover emotional distress damages? Last month, the Fourth District Court of Appeal addressed this issue. 

New CA Torts Decision  

Downey v. City of Riverside (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 3087500: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s orders sustaining defendants’ demurrers to plaintiff’s cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress arising from an auto accident where her daughter was injured. Plaintiff alleged the accident occurred due to defendant city creating or allowing a dangerous condition to exist, and alleged that a homeowner defendant maintained vegetation and trees on their property so as to cause an unsafe obstruction to the view of vehicular traffic. Plaintiff was not with her daughter at the time of the accident, but she was talking to her daughter on the phone. The trial court sustained the demurrers, concluding that plaintiff’s allegations were insufficient to show that plaintiff had a contemporaneous awareness of the injury-producing event—not just the harm her daughter suffered, but also the causal connection between defendants’ tortious conduct and the injuries Vance suffered. The Court of Appeal disagreed because, during oral argument, plaintiff argued she could allege additional facts regarding her familiarity with and knowledge and awareness of the intersection and the dangerous conditions created by the two defendants. As a result, the Court of Appeal concluded that plaintiff should be given an opportunity to allege facts establishing she had the requisite contemporaneous sensory awareness of the causal connection between the negligent conduct and the resulting injury. (C.A. 4th, April 26, 2023.)

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California Case Summaries™
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