The tort of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress is a cause of action brought by someone who witnesses a traumatic event, usually to a loved one, and suffers some kind of emotional or physical reaction as a result. A common example is a lawsuit brought by a surviving passenger in a fatal car accident involving loved ones. The most commonly disputed element of the cause of action is the “reaction” element. Tennessee courts have held that expert proof of emotional disturbance is required in some cases where there is no physical reaction to the event. This is a requirement in many cases, in order to verify that the reaction is legitimate and also to keep trivial suits out of the court system.
In a recent case in front of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the court had the opportunity to explain what the tort Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress was, and how the elements can be met under Tennessee law.
Rye v. Women’s Care Center of Memphis
In Rye v. Women’s Care Center of Memphis, the Tennessee Court of Appeals considered a case where a women’s center negligently failed to provide a certain shot to an expecting mother, and she developed a condition that meant her future pregnancies would all be “high risk.” As a result of the center’s failure, and her resulting condition, the woman brought a Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress claim against the center.