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Comstock v. Wilson

257 N.Y. 231, 177 N.E. 431 (1931)

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Comstock v. Wilson

New York Court of Appeals

257 N.Y. 231, 177 N.E. 431 (1931)

Facts

The plaintiff’s automobile collided with another automobile operated by the defendant. The plaintiff’s testatrix was a passenger in the plaintiff’s automobile when the collision occurred. The collision caused some noise and loosened the left fender of the plaintiff’s car. The testatrix stepped from the car after the accident and started to write down the defendant’s name and license number. While she was doing that, the testatrix fainted and fell to the sidewalk and fractured her skull. This all occurred within a few minutes after the collision. The testatrix lived about 20 minutes after she fell. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s negligence caused the testatrix’s death. A jury awarded the plaintiff $5,000 after the jury decided, as a question of fact, that the defendant’s alleged negligence was the proximate cause of the testatrix’s death. The trial judge had refused the defendant’s request to instruct the jury that if the testatrix had sustained only shock or fright at the time of the collision, without physical injury, the jury must find for the defendant. The defendant appealed, contending that fright alone cannot form the basis of an action. The appellate court certified the question of whether it was error for the trial court to refuse to give the defendant’s requested instruction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lehman, J.)

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