Property Damage Alone Is Not Enough To Give Rise To A Claim For Emotional Distress

Ms. Clough was drag racing when her car left the roadway and crashed into the front of the Smith’s house. 


The Smiths were at home but were in the back yard when they heard the crash.  They went around to the front and found the Clough car lodged in their home and Ms. Clough dead on their walkway. 


The trial court rejected the Smith’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.  In Smith v. Clough, 106 Nev. 568; 796 P.2d 592 (1990), the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with the trial court.  The Court identified the Smith’s claims as bystander emotional distress claims.   The Court overruled the prior case of Merluzzi v. Larson, 96 Nev. 409, 411, 610 P.2d 739, 741 (1980) in doing so.  Rejecting bystander claims for damage to property, the court said:


We believe the better rule is to allow recovery only in cases which pertain to emotional distress arising from harm to another person, and not in cases, such as the one before us:


106 Nev. at 569-570, 796 P.2d at 593-594. 


If you have further questions about Nevada emotional distress claims, please contact Mike Mills at Bauman Loewe Witt & Maxwell.  He can be reached at 702.240.6060x114.  You can also email him at

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