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Vance v. Vance

408 A.2d 728 (1979)

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Vance v. Vance

Maryland Court of Appeals

408 A.2d 728 (1979)

Facts

Arnold Vance (defendant) and Muriel Vance (plaintiff) partook in a marriage ceremony in 1956 and subsequently lived together as husband and wife for 18 years. After those 18 years, Arnold left Muriel for another woman. Muriel attempted to seek child and spousal support from Arnold in court. Arnold then disclosed he and Muriel were never really married, because he never divorced his first wife before marrying Muriel. This news caused Muriel to go into a state of shock and develop symptoms of an ulcer. Consequently, Muriel sued Arnold for negligent misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) for her suffering. During trial, it was discovered that Arnold attempted to obtain a divorce from his first wife before marrying Muriel but did not find out until several weeks after his and Muriel’s marriage ceremony that his first marriage was not dissolved. Arnold never mentioned this to Muriel until she sought alimony. No medical expert testified to Muriel’s injuries. At trial, the judge directed a verdict for Arnold on the IIED claim. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Muriel for negligent misrepresentation, awarding $50,000 in damages. The trial court entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict for Arnold. Muriel appealed. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding Muriel had suffered emotional distress and thus could recover if such distress had resulted in physical injury. The appellate court found sufficient evidence supported a jury finding that Muriel had been physically injured.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, C.J.)

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