California Court of Appeal Permits Virtually Present Mother to Attempt to Allege an Emotional Distress Claim
By Paul V. Esposito
A mother who heard the sounds of a vehicle crash while talking to her daughter on a cell phone may attempt to proceed with an emotional distress claim. Downey v. City of Riverside, 2023 Cal. App. LEXIS 318 (4/26/23). The mother, who directed daughter to travel near a poorly maintained intersection, could hear the sounds of a crash and spoke by phone to a man trying to find her daughter’s pulse. The court recognized that through modern technology, a bystander may be emotionally impacted even though not physically present at the accident scene. But the mother needed to allege that she had contemporaneously connected her daughter’s injury to defendants’ negligence in maintaining the intersection. The dissent disagrees with the need to allege that the mother had connected defendants’ negligence to the injury.