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Law School Case Brief

Prince v. Pittston Co. - 63 F.R.D. 28 (S.D. W. Va. 1974)

Rule:

It is well settled that summary judgment should not be granted unless the entire record shows a right to judgment with such clarity as to leave no room for controversy and establishes affirmatively that the adverse party cannot prevail under any circumstances. Neither should summary judgment be granted if the evidence is such that conflicting inferences may be drawn therefrom, or if reasonable men might reach different conclusions. Burden is upon party moving for summary judgment to demonstrate clearly that there is no genuine issue of fact, and any doubt as to the existence of such an issue is resolved against him.

Facts:

Homeowners were all absent from their homes on the day that an accident at the mining company caused millions of gallons of water and a million tons of refuse to descend upon the homeowners' town. The homeowners brought action against the mining company, claiming emotional damages. The mining company sought partial summary judgment, claiming that the homeowners could not recover for emotional damages because they were not actually present at the time the flooding occurred.

Issue:

Should the mining company's request for partial summary judgment dismissing the claims for emotional distress be granted?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court denied the motion for partial summary judgment, holding that the state of the law regarding tortious conduct causing emotional and mental disturbances was in a state of flux such that it could not conclusively rule that dismissal was warranted.

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