Case Brief

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Mazzagati v. Everingham, 512 Pa. 266 (1986).
Facts:
An automobile driven by Defendant fatally struck Plaintiff’s daughter. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff received a telephone call immediately after the collision at work informing her that her daughter had been involved in an automobile accident. Plaintiff arrived at the scene of the accident a few minutes later. Procedural Posture:

Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in the nature of a Demurrer granted by the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiffs Appealed. The Superior Court of Philadelphia County affirmed and Plaintiffs Appealed. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed. Issue:

Did Defendant owe Plaintiff, at the time of the accident, a duty of care when Plaintiff was one mile away from the scene of the accident? Holding:
Where a close relative is not present at the scene of the accident and instead learns of the accident from a third party, the prior knowledge learned of the accident serves as a buffer against the full-fledged impact of observing the accident scene. Disposition:

Order affirmed.
Legal Rationale:
Plaintiffs argues recovery under the “reasonably Foreseeability” test, which would allow a Plaintiff outside the “Zone of Danger” to recover, which was adopted in Sinn v. Burd, 486 Pa. 146 (1979). The Court stated in response that the Plaintiff’s flexible interpretation of the “jurisprudential concept …which require[s] that the defendant’s breach of a duty of care proximately causes plaintiff’s injury,” was flawed. Moreover, that “at some point along the causal chain, the passage of time and the span of distance mandate a cut-off point for liability.” Id. Justice Nix, quoting Justice Andrew’s dissent in Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R., 248 N.Y. ,352 argued public policy cannot allow the Defendant to be responsible for every unforeseeable proximate cause that consequently results from of the Defendant’s negligent conduct. Justice Nix admittedly...
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