168 Mass. 285 (1897), Spade v. Lynn & B.R. Co.

Citation168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88
Opinion JudgeALLEN, J.
Party NameSPADE v. LYNN & B.R. CO.
Attorney[47 N.E. 88] S.L. Whipple and W.R. Sears, for plaintiff. C.K. Cobb, for defendant.
Case DateMay 19, 1897
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 285

168 Mass. 285 (1897)

47 N.E. 88

SPADE

v.

LYNN & B.R. CO.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

May 19, 1897

COUNSEL

Page 287

[47 N.E. 88] S.L. Whipple and W.R. Sears, for plaintiff.

C.K. Cobb, for defendant.

OPINION

ALLEN, J.

This case presents a question which has not heretofore been determined in this commonwealth, and in respect to which the decisions elsewhere have not been uniform. It is this: Whether, in an action to recover damages for an injury sustained through the negligence of another, there can be a recovery for a bodily injury caused by mere fright and mental disturbance. The jury were instructed that a person cannot recover for mere fright, fear, or mental distress, occasioned by the negligence of another, which does not result in bodily injury, but that, when the fright or fear or nervous shock produces a bodily injury, there may be a recovery for that bodily injury, and for all the pain, mental or otherwise, which may arise out of that bodily injury. In Canning v. Williamstown, 1 Cush. 451, it was held, in an action against a town to recover damages for an injury sustained by the plaintiff in consequence of a defective bridge, that he could not recover if he sustained no injury in his person, but merely incurred risk and peril which caused fright and mental suffering. In Warren v. Railroad Co., 163 Mass. 484, 40 N.E. 895, the evidence tended to show that the defendant's train struck the carriage of the plaintiff, thereby throwing him out upon the ground; and it was held to be a physical injury to the person to be thrown out of a wagon, or to be compelled to jump out, even although the harm consists mainly of nervous shock. It was not, therefore, a case of mere fright, and resulting nervous shock. The case calls for a consideration of the real ground upon which the liability or nonliability of a defendant guilty of negligence

Page 288

in a case like the present depends. The exemption from liability for mere fright, terror, alarm, or anxiety, does not rest on the assumption that these do not constitute an actual injury. They do in fact deprive one of enjoyment and of comfort, cause real suffering, and, to a greater or less extent, disqualify one for the time being from doing the duties of life. If these results flow from a wrongful or negligent act, a recovery therefor cannot be denied on the ground that the injury is fanciful and not real. Nor can it be maintained that these results may not be the direct and immediate consequence of the negligence. Danger excites alarm. Few people are wholly insensible to the emotions caused by imminent danger, though some are less affected than others. It must also be admitted that a timid or sensitive person may suffer, not only in mind, but also in body, from such a cause. Great emotion, may, and sometimes does, produce physical effects. The action of the heart, the circulation[47 N.E. 89] of the blood, the temperature of the body, as well as the nerves and the appetite, may all be affected. A physical injury may be directly traceable to fright, and so may be caused by it. We cannot say, therefore, that such consequences may not flow proximately from unintentional negligence; and, if compensation in damages may be recovered for a physical injury so caused, it is hard, on principle, to say why there should not also be a recovery for the mere mental suffering when not accompanied by any perceptible...

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170 practice notes
  • 58 So. 927 (Ala.App. 1912), Spearman v. McCrary
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Appeals
    • April 18, 1912
    ...S.W. 361; Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co., 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 34 L. R. A. 781, 56 Am. St. Rep. 604; Spade v. Lynn & B. R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L. R. A. 512, 60 Am. St. Rep. 393; Huston v. Freemansburg Borough, 212 Pa. 548, 61 A. 1022, 3 L. R. A. (N. S.) 49. Unless we......
  • 73 So. 205 (Ala.App. 1916), 6 Div. 8, Alabama Fuel & Iron Co. v. Baladoni
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Appeals
    • November 28, 1916
    ...82; Engle v. Simmons, 148 Ala. 92, 41 So. 1023, 7 L.R.A. (N.S.) 96, 121 Am.St.Rep. 59, 12 Ann.Cas. 742; Spade v. Lynn & B.R.R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L.R.A. 512, 60 Am.St.Rep. 393; Mitchell v. Rochester R. Co., 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 34 L.R.A. 781, 56 Am.St.Rep. 604; San......
  • 572 A.2d 1062 (D.C. 1990), 84-1508, Williams v. Baker
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • April 9, 1990
    ...107, 45 N.E. 354 (1896), overruled by Battalla v. State, 10 N.Y.2d 237, 176 N.E.2d 729, 219 N.Y.S.2d (1961); Spade v. Lynn & B.R.R., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88 (1897), overruled by Dziokonski v. Babineau, 375 Mass. 555, 380 N.E.2d 1295 (1978). This so-called impact rule has a three-fold ......
  • 90 P. 984 (Idaho 1907), Lindsay v. Oregon Short Line R. Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 14, 1907
    ...etc. R. R., 147 Pa. 40, 30 Am. St. Rep. 709, 23 A. 340, 14 L. R. A. 666; Spade v. Linn & B. R. Co., 166 Mass. 285, 60 Am. St. Rep. 393, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L. R. A. 512; 8 Am. & Eng. Ency. of Law, 664; Ward v. Railroad Co., 65 N.J.L. 383, 47 A. 561; Sanderson v. Railroad Co., 88 Minn. 16......
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169 cases
  • 58 So. 927 (Ala.App. 1912), Spearman v. McCrary
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Appeals
    • April 18, 1912
    ...S.W. 361; Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co., 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 34 L. R. A. 781, 56 Am. St. Rep. 604; Spade v. Lynn & B. R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L. R. A. 512, 60 Am. St. Rep. 393; Huston v. Freemansburg Borough, 212 Pa. 548, 61 A. 1022, 3 L. R. A. (N. S.) 49. Unless we......
  • 73 So. 205 (Ala.App. 1916), 6 Div. 8, Alabama Fuel & Iron Co. v. Baladoni
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Appeals
    • November 28, 1916
    ...82; Engle v. Simmons, 148 Ala. 92, 41 So. 1023, 7 L.R.A. (N.S.) 96, 121 Am.St.Rep. 59, 12 Ann.Cas. 742; Spade v. Lynn & B.R.R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L.R.A. 512, 60 Am.St.Rep. 393; Mitchell v. Rochester R. Co., 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 34 L.R.A. 781, 56 Am.St.Rep. 604; San......
  • 572 A.2d 1062 (D.C. 1990), 84-1508, Williams v. Baker
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • April 9, 1990
    ...107, 45 N.E. 354 (1896), overruled by Battalla v. State, 10 N.Y.2d 237, 176 N.E.2d 729, 219 N.Y.S.2d (1961); Spade v. Lynn & B.R.R., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88 (1897), overruled by Dziokonski v. Babineau, 375 Mass. 555, 380 N.E.2d 1295 (1978). This so-called impact rule has a three-fold ......
  • 90 P. 984 (Idaho 1907), Lindsay v. Oregon Short Line R. Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 14, 1907
    ...etc. R. R., 147 Pa. 40, 30 Am. St. Rep. 709, 23 A. 340, 14 L. R. A. 666; Spade v. Linn & B. R. Co., 166 Mass. 285, 60 Am. St. Rep. 393, 47 N.E. 88, 38 L. R. A. 512; 8 Am. & Eng. Ency. of Law, 664; Ward v. Railroad Co., 65 N.J.L. 383, 47 A. 561; Sanderson v. Railroad Co., 88 Minn. 16......
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