Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co.

Decision Date01 December 1896
Citation45 N.E. 354,151 N.Y. 107
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals


Appeal from supreme court, general term, Fifth department.

Action by Annie Mitchell against the Rochester Railway Company. From an order (28 N. Y. Supp. 1136)affirming an order (25 N. Y. Supp. 744) setting aside a nonsuit, defendant appeals. Reversed.

Charles J. Bissell, for appellant.

Norris Bull, for respondent.


The facts in this case are few, and may be briefly stated. On the 1st day of April, 1891, the plaintiff was standing upon a crosswalk on Main street, in the city of Rochester, awaiting an opportunity to board one of the defendant's cars which had stopped upon the street at that place. While standing there, and just as she was about to step upon the car, a horse car of the defendant came down the street. As the team attached to the car drew near, it turned to the right, and came close to the plaintiff, so that she stood between the horses' heads when they were stopped. She testified that from fright and excitement caused by the approach and proximity of the team she became unconscious, and also that the result was a miscarriage, and consequent illness. Medical testimony was given to the effect that the mental shock which she then received was sufficient to produce that result. Assuming that the evidence tended to show that the defendant's servant was negligent in the management of the car and horses, and that the plaintiff was free from contributory negligence, the single question presented is whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover for the defendant's negligence which occasioned her fright and alarm, and resulted in the injuries already mentioned. While the authorities are not harmonious upon this question, we think the most reliable and better-considered cases, as well as public policy, fully justify us in holding that the plaintiff cannot recover for injuries occasioned by fright, as there was no immediate personal injury. Lehman v. Railroad Co., 47 Hun, 355; Commissioners v. Coultas, 13 App. Cas. 222; Ewing v. Railway Co., 147 Pa. St. 40, 23 Atl. 340. The learned counsel for the respondent in his brief very properly stated that ‘the consensus of opinion would seem to be that no recovery can be had for mere fright,’ as will be readily seen by an examination of the following additional authorities: Haile v. Railroad Co., 60 Fed. 557;Joch v. Dankwardt, 85 Ill. 331;Canning v. Inhabitants of Williamstown, 1 Cush. 451; Telegraph Co. v. Wood, 6 C. C. A. 432, 57 Fed. 471;Renner v. Canfield, 36 Minn. 90, 30 N. W. 435; Allsop v. Allsop, 5 Hurl. & N. 534; Johnson v. Wells, Fargo & Co., 6 Nev. 224;Wyman v. Leavitt, 71 Me. 227. If it be admitted that no recovery can be had for fright occasioned by the negligence of another, it is somewhat difficult to understand how a defendant would be liable for its consequences. Assuming that fright cannot form the basis of an action, it is obvious that no recovery can be had for injuries resulting therefrom. That the result may be nervous disease, blindness, insanity, or even a miscarriage, in no way changes the principle. These results merely show the degree of fright, or the extent of the damages. The right of action must still depend upon the...

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    • United States
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    ...24 Ind.App. 374, 56 N.E. 917, 922-23 (1900); Spade v. Lynn & B.R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88, 89 (1897); Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co., 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 354 (1896) ("plaintiff cannot recover for injuries occasioned by fright, as there was no immediate personal injury"). Cf. Pr......
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    ...Railway Co., 61 Mo. App. 586;Deming v. Railway Co., 80 Mo. App. 152;Johnson v. Wells, Fargo & Co., 6 Nev. 224;Mitchell v. Railway Co., 151 N. Y. 107, 45 N. E. 354, 34 L. R. A 781;Ewing v. Railway Co., 147 Pa. 40, 23 Atl. 340, 14 L. R. A. 666, 30 Am. St. Rep. 709; Railroad Co. v. Wyrick, 99 ......
  • Amaya v. Home Ice, Fuel & Supply Co.
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • March 12, 1963
    ...'Cases denying recovery for emotional distress even though followed by physical manifestations: Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co. (1896), 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354, 34 L.R.A. 781, overruled in Battalla v. State (1961), 10 N.Y.2d 237, 219 N.Y.S.2d 34, 176 N.E.2d 729, 730; cases collected in N.Y.......
  • Camper v. Minor
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1996
    ... ... White & Sons, 2 K.B. 669 (D.C.1901), it had already been adopted in the United States in New York and in Massachusetts. Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co., ... Page 441 ... 151 N.Y. 107, 45 N.E. 354 (1896); Spade v. Lynn & B.R. Co., 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88 (1897). The ... ...
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1 books & journal articles
  • Ridicule or recourse: parents falsely accused of past sexual abuse fight back.
    • United States
    • Journal of Law and Health Vol. 11 No. 1-2, March 1996
    • March 22, 1996
    ...(N.Y. 1983)). (146) Id. at 665. (147) Id. (148) 614 N.Y.S.2d at 666. (149) Id. (150) Id. at 667. (151) See Mitchell v. Rochester Ry. Co., 45 N.E. 354 (N.Y. 1896). (152) Molien v. Kaiser Found. Hosps., 616 P.2d 813 (Cal. 1980). (153) Id. at 814. (154) See Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of Cal.......

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