New York Court of Appeals - 62 N.Y.2d 523
The New York Court of Appeals held that a hospital does not owe a direct duty to parents of a hospitalized child to care properly for their child, and therefore, the parents cannot recover damages for mental distress caused by the child's injury. Liability is based on exceptional circumstances where the hospital's breach of care caused direct injury to the patient, resulting in emotional injury to the patient's relatives. Recovery for mental distress by parents has been allowed in cases where a hospital interferes with the parents' custody of their child. The contractual relationship between the plaintiffs and the defendant hospital does not provide a basis for recovery for mental distress, but the hospital has a duty of reasonable care towards the parents. Recovery for mental distress is appropriate where there is a guarantee that the claim is not spurious and the mental distress is undoubtedly real and serious, regardless of whether the defendant's act was negligent or intentional.
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