Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Ronayne: CA 17 Jun 2015

The respondent was an experienced ambulance driver. His wife underwent emergency treatment at the appellant’s hospital. He had claimed as a secondary victim for the distress he suffered witnessing her suffering.
Held: The hospital’s appeal succeeded. This was not a case in which there was a sudden appreciation of an event: ‘what the Claimant saw on these two occasions was not in my judgment horrifying by objective standards. Both on the first occasion and on the second the appearance of the Claimant’s wife was as would ordinarily be expected of a person in hospital in the circumstances in which she found herself. What is required in order to found liability is something which is exceptional in nature. On the first occasion she was connected to monitors and drips. The reaction of most people of ordinary robustness to that sight, given the circumstances in which she had been taken into the A. and E. Department, and the knowledge that abnormalities had been found, including a shadow over the lung, necessitating immediate exploratory surgery, would surely be one of relief that the matter was in the hands of the medical professionals, with perhaps a grateful nod to the ready availability of modern medical equipment.’
Sullivan, Tomlinson, Beatson LJJ
[2015] EWCA Civ 588, [2015] WLR(D) 263
Bailii, WLRD
England and Wales
CitedBourhill v Young’s Executor HL 5-Aug-1942
When considering claims for damages for shock, the court only recognised the action lying where the injury by shock was sustained ‘through the medium of the eye or the ear without direct contact.’ Wright L said: ‘No doubt, it has long ago been . .
CitedMcLoughlin v O’Brian HL 6-May-1982
The plaintiff was the mother of a child who died in an horrific accident, in which her husband and two other children were also injured. She was at home at the time of the accident, but went to the hospital immediately when she had heard what had . .
CitedAlcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police HL 28-Nov-1991
The plaintiffs sought damages for nervous shock. They had watched on television, as their relatives and friends, 96 in all, died at a football match, for the safety of which the defendants were responsible. The defendant police service had not . .
CitedTaylor v Somerset Health Authority 1993
The plaintiff’s husband had suffered a heart attack at work and soon died at the defendant’s hospital. She went to the hospital within an hour and was told of his death by a doctor about 20 minutes after her arrival. She was shocked and distressed. . .
CitedTaylorson v Shieldness Produce Ltd 1994
A fourteen year old boy died three days after he had been crushed by a reversing vehicle. The appellants were informed of the accident soon after it occurred and went to the hospital. The boy was seen in the ambulance and as he was rushed to the . .
CitedSion v Hampstead Heath Authority CA 1994
A young man was injured in a motor-cycle accident and was taken to the defendant’s hospital. His father attended to him at his bedside for fourteen days, watching him deteriorate in health, fall into a coma and die. The father alleged that the staff . .
CitedNorth Glamorgan NHS Trust v Walters CA 6-Dec-2002
A new mother woke in hospital to see her baby (E) fitting. E suffered a major epileptic seizure leading to coma and irreparable brain damage. E was transferred to a London hospital and the following day the claimant was told by a consultant that E’s . .
CitedGiullietta Galli-Atkinson v Seghal CA 21-Mar-2003
The claimant’s daughter was fatally injured in car accident, dying shortly after. The mother came upon the scene, witnessed a police cordon at the scene of the accident and was told of her death. She later saw the injuries at the mortuary and . .
CitedWard v The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust QBD 2004
The court considered a claim by a mother who had witnessed her 22 year old daughter motionless in the recovery unit after failing to emerge from anaesthesia following a routine operation to remove a wisdom tooth. Four events said to be shocking were . .
CitedTaylor v A Novo (UK) Ltd CA 18-Mar-2013
The deceased had suffered a head injury at work from the defendant’s admitted negligence. She had been making a good recovery but then collapsed and died at home from pulmonary emboli, and thrombosis which were a consequence of the injury. The . .
CitedWild and Another v Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust QBD 3-Dec-2014
Claim for damages arising from alleged want of care of child in the womb, leading to a stillbirth. The claimant father suffered psychiatric damage after being told of the death of his wife’s baby in utero as a result of negligent treatment by . .
CitedBrock and Another v Northampton General Hospital Nhs Trust and Another QBD 12-Dec-2014
The claimants sought damages after the death of their daughter whilst in the care of the defendant. . .
CitedShorter v Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust QBD 25-Mar-2015
The claimant saw her sister in undeniably distressing circumstances in hospital. It was suggested that the claimant’s professional background, as a radiographer, gave her an unusual degree of insight into her sister’s medical condition and that, as . .

Cited by:
CitedPaul and Another v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust QBD 4-Jun-2020
Nervous shock – liability to third parties
The claimants witnessed the death of their father from a heart attack. They said that the defendant’s negligent treatment allowed the attack to take place. Difficult point of law about the circumstances in which a defendant who owes a duty of care . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 14 May 2021; Ref: scu.549103