As a practical joke, Defendant told Plaintiff that her husband had been seriously injured in an accident and was lying in a ditch with broken bones. Defendant further told Plaintiff that she was to bring two pillows to help carry him home. After listening to Defendant’s statements, Plaintiff suffered a violent shock to her nervous system resulting in weeks of incapacitation.
Plaintiff brought an action for damages resulting from her injuries and the jury returned a verdict in her favor. The Defendant appealed on the grounds that the damage caused was merely nervous shock and therefore Plaintiff had no cause of action.
The issue facing the court was whether outrageous conduct that causes physical harm or mental distress can give rise to a cause of action. The court ruled in the affirmative.
The court held that a party may seek recovery for outrageous conduct that causes physical harm or mental distress. Here, Defendant willfully performed the act which caused harm to Plaintiff. The court reasoned that there was little doubt that Defendants’ actions would harm Plaintiff and it therefore must be assumed that he intended to produce those effects.
[QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION]
WILKINSON v. DOWNTON.
|1897 May 8.||WRIGHT J.|
Judgment for plaintiff.
Solicitor for plaintiff: J. S. Waters.
Solicitor for defendant: G. E. Philbrick.
J. F. C.