Boucher v. Dixie Med. Ctr.

850 P.2d 1179 (Utah Sup.Ct. 1992)



The zone of danger approach allows recovery to plaintiffs who suffer emotional distress because of another's negligence, though they do not suffer any physical impact, only if the plaintiffs are placed in actual physical peril and fear for their own safety. This approach does not provide recovery to plaintiffs who are not within the zone of danger created by a defendant's negligence. 


Plaintiffs' son had surgery for an injury to his hand. He lapsed into a coma during the post-operative recovery period. He remained in a coma for ten days before awakening as a severely brain-damaged quadriplegic who would need extensive care for the rest of his life. The trial court dismissed the parents' claims under Utah R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The trial court found that Utah did not allow recovery for loss of filial consortium or for negligent infliction of emotional distress when the party seeking damages was not within the zone of danger created by the alleged negligence. On appeal, the court affirmed. 


Was evidence suffecient to support the claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress under the Utah statute?




The parents did not allege sufficient facts to state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress as the claim was defined in Utah. Further, Utah did not recognize a claim of loss of filial consortium, which the court noted was a matter for the state legislature.

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