Last month an appellate court overruled a Kings County Supreme Court Justice who allowed a grandmother to sue for the emotional injuries she suffered when her granddaughter (2 years old) was killed by falling debris from the facade of a commercial building in Manhattan.It was undisputed that the grandmother was in the "zone of danger" as evidenced by her own injuries from the falling debris. She claimed that she experienced severe mental anguish and feared for her life as she observed the debris fall and kill her granddaughter. The Court's recognized the grandmother's claim as sounding in negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Court cited longstanding Court of Appeals precedent which limits these "zone of danger" cases to members of the immediate family of the person killed or seriously injured.
The Appellate Division, Second Department split 3-2 with a lengthy dissent discussed the horror of the accident scene and the severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and flashbacks suffered by the grandmother. The dissent argued that a grandparent has been recognized as being in the "immediate family". Greene v Esplanade Venture Partnership, 2019 WL 2112900