TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Twerski on Potential Claims by the Passengers of Flight 1549

The WSJ Law Blog asks the question "Can the Passengers of Flight 1549 Sue for Emotional Distress"?  Of course, one can sue for anything.  However, the piece goes on to evaluate the potential claims, relying on the expertise of Aaron Twerski (Brooklyn).  Here's an excerpt:

“My visceral reaction is that there’s probably no case, because there’s probably no negligence,” Twerski told the Law Blog. Any claim – whether for negligent infliction of emotional distress or for physical injuries — would be predicated on there being negligence, said Twerski. Either ‘you knew or should’ve known that the birds were there and you should’ve taken avoidance measures’ or ‘you should’ve been on notice.’ ”

“If the pilots were warned of the birds,” Twerski said, “and didn’t avoid them, then maybe you have negligence. But from what I read in the papers, this flock just happened on them. And, given the quality of this pilot, he would’ve avoided them had he known. It seems to me that this probably was a real cracker jack.”

He continued: “But, if there is negligence, then these passengers are clearly in the ‘zone of danger’ ” — a requirement for an NIED claim in New York. “So then the question becomes, what’s the damage? Well, it was a harrowing experience, and the people will probably be able to say they’ve suffered emotional distress – such as nightmares and fears – as a result. There’s no question that, if there was negligence and follow-on emotional distress then there’s a cause of action. In any event, I don’t see this as a big dollar item case.”


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