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Burgess v. Superior Court

California Supreme Court
831 P.2d 1197 (1992)


After Burgess (plaintiff) gave birth to her son, Joseph, by cesarean section, she was informed that the baby suffered permanent brain and nervous system damage due to oxygen deprivation. Shortly thereafter Burgess was given additional sedatives. Burgess first felt emotional distress about Joseph’s condition several hours later when she awoke from the sedatives. Subsequently, Burgess filed suit for negligently inflicted emotional distress against Gupta (defendant), the obstetrician who delivered the child. Gupta moved for summary judgment, arguing that Burgess did not meet the requirements for recovery of damages for emotional harm. The trial court granted Gupta’s motion and Burgess appealed. The intermediate appellate court reversed and held that Burgess was a “direct victim” of Gupta’s negligence and not merely a “bystander.” Gupta appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Panelli, J.)

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