A PLAINTIFF CANNOT SEEK EMOTIONAL DISTRESS DAMAGES WHEN THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THE EMOTIONAL SUFFERING AND A PHYSICAL IMPACT –CASE WHERE A PLAINTIFF PAID FOR LEGAL WORK THAT WAS NEVER PERFORMED AND SUFFERED MENTAL ANGUISH AND EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, DID NOT FIT WITHIN A RECOGNIZED EXCEPTION TO THE IMPACT RULE.
Reid v. Daley, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D1209 (Fla. 1st DCA May 6, 2019):
A prisoner in the state corrections system filed a civil suit alleging he was a victim of fraud, deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation on the part of his post-conviction attorney. He sued the lawyer for monies he paid for work that was never done, as well as for mental anguish and emotional damages.
The trial court properly dismissed the complaint, first because the $4500.00 being sought did not meet the circuit court jurisdictional requirement.
Also, though, the complaint did not state a cause of action for emotional damages because the impact rule requires that before a plaintiff can recover damages for emotional distress caused by the negligence of another, the emotional distress suffered must flow from physical injuries sustained in an impact. While there is a very narrow class of cases to which the impact rule does not apply, (where foreseeable harm is predominately emotional in nature) the impact rule does not apply. Still, this was not one of those cases.
Here, the plaintiff did not allege that his mental anguish flowed from any physical injury or impact, and although he alleged that the defendant’s conduct caused him anger, humiliation, embarrassment and hypertension, that distress is the kind of intangible mental injury which is inadequate to overcome the impact rule. Without a connection between the alleged emotional suffering and any physical impact, the plaintiff cannot seek emotional distress damages without an exception to the impact rule (which did not exist in this case).