Copyright (c) 2013 Houston Law Review
Houston Law Review
COMMENT: EGGSHELL MINDS AND INVISIBLE INJURIES: CAN NEUROSCIENCE CHALLENGE LONGSTANDING TREATMENT OF TORT INJURIES?*
* This Comment received the King & Spalding Award for Best Student Comment Written for the Houston Law Review. I first would like to thank my family and Angeles for their continuous encouragement and support throughout all my legal endeavors. In addition, I would like to thank Professor Geraldine Moohr for pointing me to the intriguing area of neuroscience. Finally, I thank Professor Susan Rachlin for helping improve my legal writing skills; Professors Owen D. Jones, Jeffrey D. Schall, and Francis X. Shen for providing access to an early version of their forthcoming textbook, Law and Neuroscience; Professor Meredith Duncan and Frank Carroll for their insights on an earlier draft of this Comment; and the talented editors of the Houston Law Review.
Houston Law Review
50 Hous. L. Rev. 929
Imagine three different situations involving a malfunctioning elevator door owned and operated by a hotel. In the first situation, as a guest is walking out of the elevator, the door abruptly closes, knocking him over. The guest is physically frail, and as a result of the fall, he breaks his hip. He subsequently sues the hotel for negligence. Even though a reasonable person would not have suffered a broken hip in this situation, because of the "eggshell skull" rule, this fact will have no effect on the guest's claim. 1 Assuming the other elements of negligence are established, the hotel will be liable for the full extent of the injury. 2
In the second situation, another guest suffers from claustrophobia. Comparing this guest to the first situation, we could say he has an "eggshell mind." This time, the door malfunctions before the guest walks out, trapping him inside. He suffers a panic attack, traumatic neurosis, and soon after develops post-traumatic stress disorder. Following the incident, he sues the hotel for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Although the guest subjectively suffered severe emotional distress, he will have to prove in addition that an ordinary person would have suffered the same distress. 3 Thus, despite the hotel committing the same negligent conduct as it did in the first situation, it will likely not be liable in this situation. 4
The third situation is the same as the first. However, instead of the guest breaking ...
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