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The Johnsons filed a complaint for the wrongful death of their son that occurred when he and Mr. Johnson were struck by NAC's truck. The trial court granted NAC's motions for summary judgment as to Johnson's claims for punitive damages, but denied defendants' motions as to plaintiff father's emotional distress claim. The parties appealed.
The court reversed the dismissal of the punitive damages claim against defendant employee because such damages were permissible in cases involving drunk driving if extreme, outrageous, or shocking behavior occurred. The dismissal of the punitive damages claim against defendant employer was reversed because there was a material issue of fact as to whether wrongful acts were committed or specifically authorized by defendant employer or were committed by defendant employee who was recklessly employed. The court affirmed the decision denying the motion as to the emotional distress claim because plaintiff father, who was a parent in the "zone of danger," could recover for the trauma associated with seeing a child injured.The court reversed the decision dismissing the punitive damages claim against defendant employee because such damages were allowable in drunk driving cases. The decision dismissing the punitive damages claim against defendant employer was reversed because an issue of fact existed. The decision denying defendants' motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff father's claim for emotional distress was affirmed because he was in the zone of danger.
The appeal court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. Thus, no decision as to liability was ultimately decided. However, based on the ruling, NAC is liable to the Johnsons.