April 14, 2024

Obligate Law

Professional Law Makers

Tort of negligent infliction of mental injury proceeds to trial: BC Supreme Court

2 min read
Tort of negligent infliction of mental injury proceeds to trial: BC Supreme Court

Her parents brought an action against the two drivers and the City of Abbotsford for the tort of negligent infliction of mental injury. The defendants sought summary dismissal of the action, claiming that the evidentiary record did not show sufficient proximity with the plaintiffs to ground a duty of care. They argued that the plaintiffs did not witness their daughter’s accident or its immediate aftermath.

The plaintiffs disagreed, asserting that the court could not determine through a summary trial through a summary trial their negligent infliction of mental injury claim. They contended that they saw their daughter in a comatose state in the hospital after the accident, and they continued to attend the hospital for several days until their daughter died. The plaintiffs argued that the issue of whether this constitutes sufficient proximity for a finding that the defendants owed them a duty of care would require a full trial for determination.

Ultimately, the BC Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs, stating that it was not satisfied that it could decide fairly through summary trial the viability of the plaintiffs’ negligent infliction of mental injury claim.

The court noted that the essential elements of the tort of negligent infliction of mental injury are the same as those of traditional personal injury negligence claims, which include the duty of care. The court also noted from case law that the class of persons to whom a duty of care to not cause psychiatric harm is owed are limited by reference to notions of “relational,” “locational,” and “temporal” proximity.

The defendants argued that the facts of the case did not meet the legal test for locational proximity as established by jurisprudence. Accordingly, the defendants said the plaintiffs’ negligent infliction of mental injury claim can be fairly dismissed through summary trial.

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