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Turning Blood Into Whine--"Fear of Aids" as a Cognizable Cause of Action in New Mexico


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/2714

Turning Blood Into Whine--"Fear of Aids" as a Cognizable Cause of Action in New Mexico

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Title: Turning Blood Into Whine--"Fear of Aids" as a Cognizable Cause of Action in New Mexico
Author: Knapp, Eric J.
Subject: New Mexico Court Opinions
Negligent Inflcition of Emotional Distress (NIED)
Emotional Distress
Judicial Tests
Cause of Action
Physical Impact Rule
Fear of Future Diseases
New Mexico
Abstract: Madrid v. Lincoln County Medical Center is the first New Mexico case to recognize a cause of action for the negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) arising from possible exposure to the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The court in Madrid held that recognition of emotional distress claims arising out of a negligently created fear of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through a medically sound channel of transmission does not require proof of actual exposure to the virus. In arriving at its decision, the Madrid court rejected the tort-recovery principles formulated in the "fear of future disease" cases. Instead, the court applied the traditional "physical impact" rule and reasoned that one's fear of developing AIDS in the future is a rational concern-irrespective of actual HIV exposure-so long as there exists a medically recognized mode of transmission. The implications of this decision go beyond concerns over excessive litigation, genuineness of claims, and the reasonableness of claimants' fears. The court's decision unnecessarily contributes to the gratuitous phobia that continues to surround AIDS, and promotes irrational beliefs concerning the manner and facility of HIV transmission. This Note reviews the evolution and current understanding of judicial tests for NIED analysis, questions the rationale employed by the Madrid court in its opinion, and discusses the implications from Madrid of recognizing a cause of action for emotional distress arising out of a fear of possibly developing AIDS, absent proof of actual HIV exposure.
Date: 1998-05
Description: 34 p. ; An outstanding student paper selected as a Honors Paper.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/2714

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