To: Legal Director
Date: November 11, 2008
Re: Spiros v. Landis
Can plaintiff Ron Arnett state a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) under Pennsylvania law given that Arnett was located twenty feet from the accident that injured Sarah Nolan, saw Ricky Landis running toward the pool and realized immediately after the impact what had happened, but viewed the impact while underwater; and though they share an emotional bond, Arnett and Nolan are not biologically or legally related?
Probably not. In Pennsylvania, a claim for NIED by a plaintiff who …show more content…
Id. In Sinn, the plaintiff observed from the front door of her home as an automobile struck and killed her daughter. Id. at 673. Similar to the plaintiff’s location in Sinn, Arnett was outside the zone of danger but witnessed- from a distance of twenty feet- the accident causing injury to Nolan. Thus, the Court will likely conclude that Arnett was located near accident scene.
B. Arnett’s observance was sensory and contemporaneous.
The next element of the Sinn test requires the plaintiff to experience a sensory and contemporaneous observance of the injurious incident. Id. at 685. In Sinn, the plaintiff visually perceived the injurious accident and resulting death of her child. Id. at 673. Like the plaintiff’s observance in Sinn, Arnett visually perceived the incident and the subsequent injuries to Nolan.
However, unlike the Sinn plaintiff who perceived the danger of the approaching vehicle moments immediately before the accident, Arnett does not realize until a beat after that he has witnessed the injurious accident to Nolan. From the facts, Arnett claims to have observed a mess of scrambling arms and legs, realizing a beat later that Nolan had been struck. The defense will assert Arnett’s delayed realization resulted from a lack of perceptual clarity from witnessing the accident under water.
In response, Arnett will cite a California court decision where the