Torts I, Pages 469–473

Daley v. LaCroix

Supreme Court of Michigan, 1970

Facts:

Defendant was driving down a road by plaintiffs' farm when he flew off the road and hit a utility pole. The attached high-voltage lines fell and hit the power lines leading to plaintiffs' house, causing a great electrical explosion in plaintiffs' house. Plaintiffs claimed that, in addition to the property damage, plaintiffs suffered from traumatic neurosis, emotional disturbance, and nervousness as a result of the explosion.

Procedural History:

Trial court granted a directed verdict upon the ground that Michigan law denies recovery for negligently caused emotional disturbance absent a showing of physical impact. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Issue:

Can one recover for negligence-caused emotional distress without a physical impact resulting therefrom?

Reasoning:

Many have held that it does not matter if a physical injury is caused a result of the emotional distress as no recovery can be had from emotional distress without immediate physical injury, but this is being rejected by the majority of courts now. People should have a right to bring these suits.

Rule/Holding:

Page 471, Paragraph 6

[W]here a definite and objective physical injury is produced a result of emotional distress proximately caused by proved action may recover in damages for such physical consequences to himself notwithstanding the absence of any physical impact upon plaintiff at the time of the mental shock.

Judgment:

Reversed and remanded for new trials.

Dissenting Opinion:

Brennan: Plaintiffs' injuries were not definite and physical, so the trial court's decision should be affirmed.

Note:

Established the physical manifestation rule

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