Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Property Damage Alone Is Not Enough To Give Rise To A Claim For Emotional Distress

Claim For Emotional DistressMs. Clough was drag racing when her car left the roadway and crashed into the front of the Smith’s house.

The Smiths were at home but were in the back yard when they heard the crash.  They went around to the front and found the Clough car lodged in their home and Ms. Clough dead on their walkway.

The trial court rejected the Smith’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.  In Smith v. Clough, 106 Nev. 568; 796 P.2d 592 (1990), the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with the trial court.  The Court identified the Smith’s claims as bystander emotional distress claims.   The Court overruled the prior case of Merluzzi v. Larson, 96 Nev. 409, 411, 610 P.2d 739, 741 (1980) in doing so.  Rejecting bystander claims for damage to property, the court said:

We believe the better rule is to allow recovery only in cases which pertain to emotional   distress arising from harm to another person, and not in cases, such as the one before us,:

106 Nev. at 569-570, 796 P.2d at 593-594.

If you have further questions about Nevada emotional distress claims, please contact Mike Mills at Bauman Loewe Witt & Maxwell.  He can be reached at 702.240.6060×114.  You can also email him at

About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

Find Mike Mills on Google+