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Quill v. Trans World Airlines, Inc. - 361 N.W.2d 438 (Minn. Ct. App. 1985)

Rule:

The general rule regarding the negligent infliction of emotional distress has been that there can be no recovery absent some accompanying physical injury. In cases in which physical symptoms occur subsequent to and because of the plaintiff's emotional disturbance, the plaintiff is required to have been in some personal physical danger caused by the defendant's negligence before awarding damages for emotional distress. 

Facts:

Defendant airline sought review of a judgment from the District Court of Hennepin County (Minnesota), which was entered in favor of plaintiff passenger in an action for emotional distress. Plaintiff filed an action against defendant and a manufacturer seeking damages for emotional distress allegedly suffered while a passenger in a plane that tailspinned. The manufacturer was dismissed as a defendant when it entered a release with plaintiff. The trial court entered a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff.

Issue:

Did plaintiff present sufficient evidence to prove infliction of emotion distress?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court affirmed. The court found plaintiff's injuries were compensable where there was sufficient evidence the unusually disturbing nature of plaintiff's experience guaranteed plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress during the descent and an emergency detour that followed. The court held under the circumstances, plaintiff's sweaty palms, elevated blood pressure, and other signs of distress provided sufficient physical symptoms to warrant the recognition of his claim. The court determined defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court's failure to notify the jury of the manufacturer's settlement where the only issue at trial was damages as the issue of negligence had already been decided. The court concluded defendant waived any objection to jury argument where defendant did not timely object to the argument nor request a curative instruction.

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