This paper will reflect over the case of Dillon vs. Legg from 1968. It will reflect on how this case changed the zone of danger. It will also reflect on how this case relates to the mental health issue. It will reflect over some rudimentary critical thinking questions to help understand the importance of mental health during this time. Last, it will show why this is important throughout the paper.
Dillon vs. Legg case serves as a reminder of the horror that emotional damage from trauma can cause. This case was about a defendant who hit a child as she legally walked across the street. The child was walking with her sister. This child died and her sister lived. Their mother was near this misfortune and witnesses the whole sad event.
Misfortune of losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare is a fact that well settled in our society. The thought of seeing an individual child’s died and their other child almost died and not is able to do anything about it, can be an unmanaged feeling. That can cause sadness and anger and lead into the abyss of dark emotions.
These emotions are what happen to the mother and the sister. Their lives were damaged because of this day. The impacts of the trauma by witness the death of their family member haunted them. Again, the year this case happened was 1968. The mental health field was not well established as it today. It was better than it was in the past. A prime example is Lincoln wife Mary who suffered from mental illness from losing a child, brother and husband. That is why the legal term the danger zone in 1968 was set that a person has to be around danger zone, to be affected from emotional mental health.
This does not mean the judges of the legal system in 1968 were immune to the pain of a parent losing a child. This was the first case that brought this to light. When the mother sued, she was denied for emotional damaged. The mother did not stop and took her fight further. An appeal was done with the Supreme Court. After their research and evaluation, there was a change with the danger zone. This change with the danger zone allowed the mother to sue for emotional distress and the area of the danger zone was redefined.
As the article The Zone of Danger: Physical Danger vs. Emotional Danger, Dillon vs. Legg (1968), it states the new law for the danger zone applies to the state of California only. The article does states that while other states have laws in reference to emotional distress, the terms and conditions can vary. Regardless, it made the awareness of the pain that result from witnessing a trauma.
Again, this was the period of 1960’s. Judges and lawyers and other people in the criminal justice and the world were aware of trauma for this was time of the Vietnam War. This was time there was heavy protesting against the Vietnam War. This was a time that veterans came home and were spit on. Today, that would never happen. Then, the times were different. The Vietnam War brought much hate into people. Soldiers were coming home from posttraumatic stress disorder. Sadly, during that time this was not well known. Sadly the veterans did not receive the proper care they needed.
The care the mother and the sister needed to repair the emotional damaged, it is not surprising that it was denied. Again, it beyond a misfortune. Again, this was a time that soldiers were coming home broken and we did not know to properly help them. How could the criminal justice system properly handle the Dillon vs. Legg case, when Vietnam War has brought an earthquake to humanity thinking of America? Again, this case changed the way of thinking about emotional distress.
Dillon vs. Legg case will always be a sadly historical case. It will be a case to remind people of the deeps wounds that emotional distress can cause a person. It will be a case that will forever leaves footprints on history of California, mental health, and our criminal justice system.
Klean, J. S. (1990, February 1, 1990). Negligence is emotional issue. Los Angeles Times Legal View. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1990-02-01/news/vw-1335_1_emotional-distress
Libby, T. L. (2011, September 2011). Hindsight: 47 Years Ago. California Lawyer A Daily Journal Publication. Retrieved from http://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=917677
Wachtel, Ph.D, M. (2012, August 29. 2012). The zone of danger: physical danger vs. emotional danger, dillon v legg (1968). Psychlaw Journal. Retrieved from http://www.psychlawjournal.com/2012/08/the-zone-of-danger-physical-danger-vs.html