224
MICHAEL J. LABBEE
nized the impact rule as a judicial construct, which “if th[e] Court should
reach the conclusion that such [a] rule was inequitable, impractical or no
longer necessary, it may be, judicially, altered or abolished.
16
If I Fell: The Physical Manifestation Exception
The first significant departure from the strict application of the impact rule
occurred in 1985 when the Florida Supreme Court recognized the “physical
manifestation” exception. In
Champion v. Gray
,
17
the defendant, through
his own negligence, caused the death of Karen Champion. Karen’s mother,
who suffered no physical impact, was “so overcome with shock and grief
that she collapsed and died on the spot.” Although Mrs. Champion did not
actually witness the accident, she heard it and rushed to her daughter’s
side, whereupon she died. The Court recognized that:
The price of death or significant discernible physical injury,
when caused by psychological trauma resulting from a neg-
ligent injury imposed upon a close family member within the
sensory perception of the physically injured person, is too great
a harm to require direct physical contact before a cause of ac-
tion exists
.
18
Importantly, the
Champion
Court limited the duty owed by an individual to
“close family members within the sensory perception” of the primary vic-
tim. By doing so, the Court seemingly recognized that the class of potential
16
.
17
.
18
Id
. at 18–19.
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