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Bennight v. W. Auto Supply Co. - 670 S.W.2d 373 (Tex. App. 1984)

Rule:

Ordinarily, the perpetrator of an intentional tort is not liable for loss of support sustained by those dependent upon the victim.

Facts:

Plaintiffs, Joe Bennight and his minor daughter, Jennifer Bennight, appeal from a judgment of the trial court that denies them recovery in their suit against defendant Western Auto Supply Company. Their claims arose from personal injuries sustained by Cathy Bennight, their wife and mother respectively, in the course of her employment with the company. The victim was bitten by a bat when the manager required that she go again to the rear of the store on a business errand.  The bite necessitated anti-rabies treatment, which led to her becoming permanently blind and emotionally disturbed. The manager knew that the bats posed a serious risk of rabies should one bite an employee. The district court denied their suit.

Issue:

Were the employee's family members entitled to damages for the injuries sustained by an employee, the wife and mother of the family members, in the course of employment?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court concluded that the jury found that the store manager intentionally placed wife in apprehension of a harmful or offensive bodily contact with a bat when she was required to work where the manager knew bats existed. The court found that the record did not reveal that defendant Western Auto Supply objected to the form of these issues given to the jury, and the result was that any objection to their form was waived. The court held that the jury's verdict established that Western's manager committed an intentional tort against the employee and that the trial court erred in its judgment that plaintiffs husband and daughter take nothing by the suit.

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