Kaufman v. Physical Measurements Inc.

Decision Date04 August 1994
Citation615 N.Y.S.2d 508,207 A.D.2d 595
PartiesJames E. KAUFMAN et al., Respondents, v. PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS INC. et al., Appellants.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Thorn & Gershon (Sean M. Seely, of counsel), Albany, for Physical Measurements Inc., appellant.

Donohue, Sabo, Varley & Armstrong (Christine M. D'Addio, of counsel), Albany, for Mary A. Wright, appellant.

The Proskin Law Firm (Robert Bogan, of counsel), Albany, for respondents.

Before MIKOLL, J.P., CREW, WHITE, WEISS and YESAWICH, JJ.

WEISS, Justice.

Appeal from an order of the Supreme Court (Keegan, J.), entered October 27, 1993 in Albany County, which denied defendants' motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

While employed by the United States Postal Service in the City of Albany on September 22, 1989, plaintiff James E. Kaufman was sorting mail as a postal clerk. His left ring finger was pricked by a hypodermic needle protruding from a "white baglike envelope" mailed by defendant Mary A. Wright, a registered nurse. The envelope was addressed to Equifax Corporation in Albany, a business owned by defendant Physical Measurements Inc. The needle had been used by White to extract blood as part of a physical examination for an insurance company. Kaufman was treated in the emergency room of a hospital and was tested five times over a period of 18 months for the presence of HIV. The results of all tests were negative for the virus. Kaufman was able to ascertain that the blood sample extracted with the subject hypodermic needle and the individual from whom it had been taken both tested negative for HIV. Kaufman commenced this negligence action to recover damages for personal injuries, including mental pain and emotional distress suffered from fearing that the puncture wound might have infected him with AIDS. Kaufman's wife joined in the action by asserting a derivative cause of action. Contending that plaintiffs' claim of emotional distress is overly remote and speculative and that their causes of action lack merit, defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Supreme Court found that the complaint adequately set forth defendants' breach of duty based on their failure to properly package the needle and alleged that the wound was a "distinct event" which had proximately caused physical injury and emotional distress. Supreme Court concluded that the complaint sufficiently raised triable issues of fact as to whether the claimed psychological injury is compensable. Defendants have appealed from the order denying their respective summary judgment motions.

Concededly, the physical injury sustained by Kaufman was minor and his recovery was speedy. However, the fear of contracting AIDS, i.e., the "Aids Phobia", can be of monumental proportions. Whether the negligent infliction of emotional distress flowing from that fear is, in the instant case, compensable is a vexing problem since the basis of the claim is a documented physical injury sustained by Kaufman. Unfortunately, " * * * the question whether one can recover for emotional injury may not be susceptible to an all-inclusive 'yes' or 'no' answer" (Marchica v. Long Is. R.R., 810 F.Supp. 445, 450, quoting Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. v. Buell, ...

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  • Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hagan, 98-1463.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 3, 1999
    ...698, 556 N.W.2d 144 (App. Ct.1996); De Milio v. Schrager, 285 N.J.Super. 183, 666 A.2d 627 (1995); Kaufman v. Physical Measurements, Inc., 207 A.D.2d 595, 615 N.Y.S.2d 508 (3d Dept.1994); Doe v. Surgicare of Joliet, Inc., 268 Ill.App.3d 793, 205 Ill.Dec. 593, 643 N.E.2d 1200 (3d Dist.1994);......
  • Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hagan
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 15, 2002
    ...698, 556 N.W.2d 144 (App. 1996); De Milio v. Schrager, 285 N.J.Super. 183, 666 A.2d 627 (1995); Kaufman v. Physical Measurements, Inc., 207 A.D.2d 595, 615 N.Y.S.2d 508 (3d Dept.1994); Doe v. Surgicare of Joliet, Inc., 268 Ill.App.3d 793, 205 Ill.Dec. 593, 643 N.E.2d 1200 (3d Dist.1994); Jo......
  • Harris v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of New York
    • September 21, 2018
    ...to it, "recovery for emotional distress will be denied as overly speculative and remote." See Kaufman v. Physical Measurements , 207 A.D.2d 595, 596, 615 N.Y.S.2d 508 (3d Dep't 1994) (holding there was no claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress for a plaintiff who tested negati......
  • Madrid v. Lincoln County Medical Center
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • October 3, 1995
    ...appeal denied, 158 Ill.2d 550, 206 Ill.Dec. 835, 645 N.E.2d 1357 (1994); K.A.C., 527 N.W.2d at 558-59; Kaufman v. Physical Measurements, Inc., 615 N.Y.S.2d 508, 509 (App.Div.1994); Hare v. State, 173 A.D.2d 523, 570 N.Y.S.2d 125, 127 appeal denied, 78 N.Y.2d 859, 575 N.Y.S.2d 455, 580 N.E.2......
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