163 So.2d 267 (Fla. 1964), 33167, LaPorte v. Associated Independents, Inc.

Docket Nº:33167.
Citation:163 So.2d 267
Party Name:Phyllis LA PORTE, Petitioner, v. ASSOCIATED INDEPENDENTS, INC., a Florida corporation, Respondent.
Case Date:April 03, 1964
Court:Supreme Court of Florida

Page 267

163 So.2d 267 (Fla. 1964)

Phyllis LA PORTE, Petitioner,


ASSOCIATED INDEPENDENTS, INC., a Florida corporation, Respondent.

No. 33167.

Supreme Court of Florida.

April 3, 1964

Rehearing Denied May 13, 1964.

Morgan, Carratt & O'Connor, Fort Lauderdale, for petitioner.

Gotthardt, Christie & Shepard, Miami, for respondent.

THOMAS, Justice.

An action for damages was brought by the petitioner, then plaintiff, against the defendant, now respondent, based on facts we will presently, briefly relate. The plaintiff, was awarded a verdict of $2000. compensatory damages and $1000. punitive damages. The subsequent judgment was appealed to the District Court of Appeal, Second District, and there reversed for reconsideration not of 'the issue of liability, but for determination only of compensatory and punitive damages.'

The appellate court observed that appellant was contending error had been committed by the trial judge when he charged the jury that the plaintiff could recover for alleged mental suffering. The question here is simplified by the apparent concession on the part of the respondent that under the evidence the jury could believe the petitioner was entitled to recover both compensatory and punitive damages, which have been allowed, however, the respondent complains that the element of mental suffering was injected improperly by the judge's instruction.

The respondent is a corporation engaged in the business of collecting garbage. Among its customers was the petitioner. Early one morning, while the petitioner was occupied in the preparation of breakfast, a garbage collector came for the refuse. The petitioner had tethered her pet, a miniature dachshund, Heidi, outside the

Page 268

house and beyond reach of the garbage can. Heidi was pedigreed and had been purchased two years before. She saw the garbage man empty the can and hurl it in the direction of the dog. Upon hearing her pet yelp, the petitioner went outside to find Heidi injured. The collector laughed and left. Heidi expired from the blow.

In the afternoon petitioner consulted a physician who later testified that she was upset to the point of marked hysteria and in such a plight that she could not recount the experience coherently. The doctor testified also that he had been treating her for nervousness for the past two years. But there is no need to pursue the matter of the effect of Heidi's...

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