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Robb v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co.

Delaware Supreme Court
210 A.2d 709 (1965)


Facts

A private lane leading to the home of Dixie Robb (plaintiff) was intersected by a railroad right of way leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (the Railroad) (defendant). As Robb was driving her vehicle up the lane toward her home, her car stalled in a one-foot deep rut that the Railroad had negligently allowed to form at the crossing. Despite trying for several minutes to move the car out of the rut Robb was unable to do so. Around that time a train approached Robb’s vehicle. With only seconds to spare Robb jumped from the stalled car and ran from the scene. The train collided with Robb’s car, demolishing it. Robb stood within a few feet of the railroad track when the collision occurred and was speckled with soot and dirt in the aftermath, but did not sustain any physical injuries. However, Robb was greatly frightened and emotionally disturbed by the event which subsequently manifested in shock to her nervous system and physical injuries. Robb filed suit against the Railroad to recover damages for her emotional distress. The Railroad moved for summary judgment, arguing that Robb could not recover because she was not physically impacted or injured in the collision. The trial court agreed and granted the Railroad’s motion. Robb appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Herrmann, J.)

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