Law School Case Brief
Waube v. Warrington - 216 Wis. 603, 258 N.W. 497 (1935)
In order to give rise to a right of action grounded on negligent conduct, the emotional distress or shock must be occasioned by fear of personal injury to the person sustaining the shock, and not fear of injury to his property or to the person of another.
Susie Waube witnessed her child being struck and killed by the driver of a vehicle (defendant). Waube died shortly thereafter because of emotional upset. William Waube, as special administrator of the estate of Susie Waube, brought an action against the driver for damages and the lower court found for the administrator. The defendant appealed.
Can the administrator of the estate of a mother who witnessed her child struck and killed by a car recover damages against the driver of the car?
The Court balanced the social interests involved in order to ascertain how far a defendant's duty and a plaintiff's right might justly and expediently have been extended. The Court concluded that they could neither justly nor expediently be extended to any recovery for physical injuries sustained by one out of the range of ordinary physical peril as a result of the shock of witnessing another's danger. According to the Court, the emotional distress or shock had to have been occasioned by fear of personal injury to the person sustaining the shock, and not fear of injury to his property or to the person of another.
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