Monday, November 21, 2005
The expression "to die of anger" (气死) is very common in Chinese (or maybe just among the Chinese people I know). It has now received official sanction as a cause of action in tort. The Worker's Daily (工人日报) reported in its Oct. 24, 2005 issue about a case in which a husband successfully sued a company for having caused the death of his wife in this way. In July, 2002, his wife and several other workers had confronted a senior official at the company about back wages they were owed. The official apparently said rather dismissively, "I can't do anything about it; go to the government or go to court." At this, the wife began foaming at the mouth and fell senseless to the ground.
The cause of death was ascertained to be cerebral hemorrhage triggered by the argument over wages. The husband brought suit in January, 2005. In its judgment, the court found that the company official had been too harsh in his tone (语言有些生硬) and had caused the victim's death; it found for the husband against the company.
Interestingly, nobody seems to have noticed that the statute of limitations for this action had long since run. The general limitation is two years under Art. 135 of the General Principles of Civil Law, and under Art. 136 it's one year for actions for personal injury.