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Business Litigation Newsletter - Winter 2021

The Impact Rule: A Bar to Negligence Liability for Purely Emotional Damages by Heather St. Clair - There are good reasons why the law bars grieving Kobe Bryant fans from suing the helicopter pilot for emotional distress caused by his fatal crash. To prevent indeterminate and unlimited liability like this, most states generally bar liability for negligent conduct that causes only emotional harm. See Restatement Third of Torts,§ 47 Negligent Conduct Directly Inflicting Emotional Harm on Another. In many jurisdictions, this rule is known as the “impact rule” and it requires some physical injury before negligence liability may attach.

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