691 So.2d 1177 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1997), 96-1122, Ruttger Hotel Corp. v. Wagner

Docket Nº:96-1122.
Citation:691 So.2d 1177, 22 Fla. L. Weekly D 1016
Party Name:RUTTGER HOTEL CORPORATION, d/b/a Days Inn Oceanfront and Days Inn of America, Inc., Appellants, v. Lisa WAGNER and Owen Asbell, Appellees.
Case Date:April 23, 1997
Court:Florida Court of Appeals, Third District
 
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Page 1177

691 So.2d 1177 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1997)

22 Fla. L. Weekly D 1016

RUTTGER HOTEL CORPORATION, d/b/a Days Inn Oceanfront and Days Inn of America, Inc., Appellants,

v.

Lisa WAGNER and Owen Asbell, Appellees.

No. 96-1122.

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District.

April 23, 1997

Page 1178

Conroy, Simberg & Ganon, and Hinda Klein, Hollywood, for appellants.

Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin, and Andrew P. Gold, Miami, for appellee Lisa Wagner.

Panter & Panter, and Mitchell J. Panter, Miami, for appellee Owen W. Asbell.

Before GERSTEN, GREEN and SHEVIN, JJ.

GERSTEN, Judge.

Appellants, Ruttger Hotel Corporation, d/b/a Days Inn Oceanfront, and Days Inn of America, Inc. (collectively "hotel"), appeal an adverse jury verdict contending that the impact rule bars recovery. We agree and reverse.

The appellees, Lisa Wagner and her father Owen Asbell, were staying at a Days Inn in Fort Lauderdale with Wagner's three children. Around 7:00 a.m., Asbell left his room and was about to enter his daughter's room when a robber put a gun to his back and told him to enter his daughter's room. Once in Wagner's room, the robber demanded their money, and pushed Wagner and Asbell into the bathroom. The children remained asleep in bed during the robbery.

Wagner and Asbell sued the hotel alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress. At trial, Wagner testified that she was withdrawn, depressed and frightened to leave her house after the robbery. Two psychologists testified that they saw Wagner on an "as needed" basis and diagnosed her as having post-traumatic stress syndrome. Wagner testified that she did not have any external injuries from the robbery.

Asbell testified the robbery made him feel helpless and the stress from it aggravated his diabetes. No medical or psychological testimony was presented on his behalf, but he did testify that he suffered from nightmares and "day mares" everyday.

The hotel's motions for directed verdict alleged that the impact rule applied, because of the lack of physical injury. The hotel also alleged that mere touching was not enough to satisfy the rule, nor was psychic trauma alone sufficient to overcome the bar to suit. Plaintiffs responded that as long as the victims were touched, the impact rule would not bar recovery in tort. The jury found for the appellees and awarded damages.

The impact doctrine precludes...

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