Bartolone v. Jeckovich

Supreme Court of New York, 1984.

103 A.D.2d 632, 481 N.Y.S.2d 545.

Prosser, pp. 292-294


Facts: The plaintiff was in a car accident and afterwards had sort of a nervous breakdown.  The plaintiff sued not only for the physical injuries but for the nervous breakdown.  The jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $500,000, but the trial judge set aside the verdict.  The plaintiff appealed.


Issue: Can the defendant be held liable for aggravating the plaintiff’s pre-existing psychological condition through his negligence?


Rule: A defendant must “take a plaintiff as he finds him” meaning that the defendant is responsible for any harm resulting from the aggravation of a pre-existing illness.


Analysis: The court finds that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition such that he was normal until the accident, but the accident pushed him over the edge into debilitating mental illness.  The court says that it is thus appropriate for the jury to find the defendant responsible for this disability.


Conclusion: The judgment notwithstanding the verdict is overturned and the original jury verdict is reinstated.


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