The parents of Bonnie Garland are only two of the innumerable third-party victims who have suffered from the wrongful death of a child. Because the "emotional distress" suffered by the Garlands was comprised of so many elements, the wrongful death of their child provides a framework for analyzing all the harms engendered within the term "emotional distress" and the availability of civil remedies for each of those "separable" harms. The tragedy of the Garlands will be used as a vehicle to assess the success of legislatures and courts in enacting and interpreting wrongful death statutes. The important question becomes whether the courts and legislatures have adequately addressed the problem of parental psychic injuries resulting from the death of a child. The analysis will focus on the attempts in the common law, through the recognition of the torts of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, to remedy other elements of psychic harm arising from the wrongful death of a child. The three difficulties that the courts have had in both stages of the process will be examined: 1) the barrier of recognizing psychic harm as a compensable injury; 2) the elusiveness of the definitional standards employed by the courts; and 3) the strictures the courts have placed on victims in order to constrain the cause of action. Finally, the Note will analyze tort liability for the intentional infliction of emotional distress to third-party victims based on recklessness: the rationale for liability and the scope of the action.
Note, Garland v. Herrin: Surviving Parents' Remedies for a Child's Wrongful Death - The Pecuniary-Loss Rule and Reckless Infliction of Emotional Distress, 32 Clev. St. L. Rev. 641 (1983-1984)