Oliver v. McDadeAnnotate this Case
In "Oliver v. McDade," (762 SE2d 96 (2014)), the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of a motion for partial summary judgment brought by Crider Transportation and Jerome Oliver, finding that a question of fact remained whether John McDade could pursue a claim for emotional distress pursuant to the pecuniary loss rule. McDade was riding as a passenger in his own truck, which was being driven by his close friend Matthew Wood. McDade, Wood, and others were returning home late at night from a dirt car race in which Wood had competed, and Wood was towing his race car on a trailer behind McDade's truck. Just after driving the truck down the on-ramp onto the interstate, Wood noticed that something on the trailer was not secured, and he pulled over to the shoulder. A tractor-trailer owned by Crider Transportation and operated by Jerome Oliver swerved onto the shoulder and struck Wood's trailer and McDade's truck. Wood was crushed between the trailer and the truck and killed instantly. The impact threw McDade against the interior of his truck, shattered the glass in the rear of the truck's cab, and propelled blood and tissue from Wood's body onto McDade. McDade then got out of his truck, discovered Wood's mangled body lying partially in the road, and protected it from further damage by passing vehicles until emergency personnel arrived. Due to the collision, McDade suffered neck, back and knee injuries, as well as headaches, insomnia, flashbacks, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. He sought psychiatric help, was diagnosed as suffering from major depression as a result of the collision, and was prescribed various medications. Based on the collision, McDade brought a negligence claim against Oliver, Crider, and Crider's liability insurance carrier. The trial court initially granted the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment, ruling that Georgia's impact rule barred bystanders from recovering damages for emotional distress resulting from witnessing another person's injuries, but later the trial court granted a motion for reconsideration, finding that McDade could pursue a claim for emotional distress under the pecuniary loss rule. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, in Division 1, which found that a question of fact remained regarding the allocation of McDade's damages, and affirmed the trial court's denial of Oliver's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals, Division 2 went further to assume facts not fully developed and opined as to how the law would apply to assumed facts. These issues were not ripe for consideration. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' holding, but vacated Division 2's opinion.