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Scott Cooper
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Decide Victim’s Ability To Collect Only For Emotional Distress

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Below is a copy of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order from April 24, 2012 granting State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company’s Petition for Allowance of Appeal in Lipsky v. State Farm. This case was appealed from the Pennsylvania Superior Court after the lower court in an unpublished opinion held that the insureds were properly granted Summary Judgment on a claim for “bystander” emotional distress after witnessing the vehicular homicide of a family member. The trial court found that emotional distress was not clearly excluded from the definition of a compensable “bodily injury” as provided in the automobile policy issued by State Farm.”

State Farm argued that the trial court erred not only in finding the definition of “bodily injury” ambiguous so as to admit within its ambit a negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”) claim but also in ruling that the emotional distress of each plaintiff constituted an original bodily injury not derivative of the main injury.

State Farm appealed and the Court has granted the appeal to hear the following issue:

ORDER

PER CURIAM

AND NOW, this 24th day of April, 2012, the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby GRANTED. The issues, as phrased by petitioner, are:

a. Whether a claim for emotional distress without physical injury is covered by a liability insurance policy which provides coverage for “bodily injury” defined as “bodily injury to a person and sickness, disease or death which results from it.”

b. Assuming, arguendo, that such claims do constitute bodily injury, whether plaintiffs’ claims for emotional distress are subject to the “each accident” liability limits of the State Farm insurance policy, rather than the “each person” liability limits, despite the fact that plaintiffs’ emotional distress resulted from the bodily injury suffered by Benjamin Lipsky, and the policy includes within its “each person” limits “all injury and damages to others resulting from this bodily injury.”

No briefing schedule or argument date has been set yet