Torts I, Pages 317–319

Bartolone v. Jeckovich

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, 1984

Judgment:

Reversed; jury's verdict reinstated.

Facts:

Plaintiff negligently caused a car accident that gave defendant minor injuries. These minor injuries greatly aggravated a pre-existing schizophrenic condition, which then permanently disabled him.

Procedural History:

Jury awarded $500,000 to plaintiff, which judge set aside.

Issue:

Can one be liable for aggravating pre-existing conditions?

Defendant's Argument:

Condition was not aggravated; defendant is faking a mental breakdown. Even if was real, it would have happened anyway.

Rule:

Bell: Defendant is liable for all physical injuries even if another plaintiff wouldn't have suffered those injuries.

Reasoning:

There are many cases of similar mental disorders being caused by traffic accidents. They held that the defendant should be liable. Defendant was living a normal life before the accident, so there is not reason to think it would have occurred then without it.

Rule/Holding:

One can be held liable for aggravating pre-existing conditions.