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Waube v. Warrington

Citation. 258 N.W. 497 (Wis. 1935)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A woman died of grief after watching her daughter get hit by a car and dying.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Recovery for emotional injury caused by negligence requires that the emotional injury stems from fear of injury to oneself.


The deceased was looking at her daughter through the window when the defendant, through his negligence, hit and killed the daughter.


Can the plaintiff recover for emotional injury from negligent conduct towards another person?


No, the plaintiff must have been the subject of the negligent conduct.


The court finds for the defendant, and denies recovery for the deceased’s emotional injury.  The court reasons that while the sight and sound of the event undoubtedly caused her emotional trauma, it was inappropriate to extend the liability for the defendant’s negligence to such an extent.  The court held that for a recovery for emotional trauma, they themselves must have been the subject in peril, and that the shock of witnessing an event imperiling another is insufficient to allow the plaintiff to recover.

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