Pizarro v. 421 Port Associates

739 N.Y.S. 2d 152 (2002).

The court holding that an elevator passenger who had witnessed an elevator malfunction which resulted in the decapitation of a third party could not recover for mental trauma where the passenger was not closely related to the third party.

The court held that, although a plaintiff may state a cause of action for mental trauma sustained as the result of negligence, even without physical impact, where the recovery sought by an uninjured third-party is predicated on witnessing injury sustained by another person, the following three elements must be established:

  1. The defendant’s conduct must be a substantial factor in causing serious injury or death to the third-party;
  2. The plaintiff must be within the zone of danger; and
  3. The injured person must be an immediate family member of the plaintiff.

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