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Dillon v. Legg

Supreme Court of California
441 P.2d 912 (1968)



A car driven by Legg (defendant) struck and killed Erin Lee Dillon, a child, while she was crossing a public street. At the time, Erin’s mother (Dillon) (plaintiff) and minor sister Cheryl (plaintiff) were walking near her. Dillon and Cheryl brought suit against Legg for wrongful death. Additionally, Dillon brought suit for emotional distress and physical pain suffered due to Legg’s negligence. Cheryl also brought suit for emotional distress and physical pain. At trial, the evidence showed that Dillon was in “close proximity” to Erin at the time of the accident but was outside the “zone of danger” threatened by Legg’s car. Cheryl was determined to possibly have been within the “zone of danger.” As a result, Dillon’s claim for emotional distress was dismissed because at no time did she fear for her own safety. However, Cheryl’s action was not dismissed because she might have feared for her own safety. Dillon appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

Dissent (Burke, J.)

Dissent (Traynor, C.J.)

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