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Restoring Emotional and Mental Emergency Damages Caused by Property Loss in Arizona Property Insurance Law Insurance Blog



Existing Arizona law enables the recovery of emotional distress and psychological distress in the event of property damage. The Arizona Court of Appeals has already ruled in at least two different cases that when a person suffers a loss of property, that person can recover emotional distress even if the tortfeasor did not knowingly cause the distress, and even if the distress is not serious. Farr v Transamerica Occidental Life Ins. Co ., 145 Ariz. 1, 7, 699 P.2d 376, 382 (App. 1984).

In Farr the court considered a disbelief against an insurance company. Farr had suffered complications during pregnancy, and Occidental denied covered claims and failed to follow its procedures for closing claims. Farr sued Occidental for bad faith, after which Occidental paid benefits. Dangers of financial damages ultimately consisted of law firms to give credence, and other alleged damages consisted of loss of credit reputation. Id. at 5-6. The trial court also instructed the jury that it could award damages for Farar's anxiety, emotional distress and embarrassment. Id. kl. 7. The Arizona Court of Appeals allowed Farr to recover emotional distress, anxiety, and embarrassment resulting from "property loss" consisting solely of pecuniary damage.

Although Farr ruled in disbelief against an insurance company, its holdings in the matter of damages are not limited to cases of unbelievable insurance. The Arizona Court of Appeals again upheld and applied Farr holdings in Thomas v. Goudreault 1

63 Ariz. 159, 786 P.2d 1010 (1989). In Thomas the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a tenant could recover emotional distress from a landlord who had disturbed the tenant's right to use and enjoy rented property:

The principle that once property damage has been determined, emotional damage can follow simply applicable in the present case, since no doubt the alleged acts of Goudreaults constituted a disturbance of Thomas' use and enjoyment of the leased property.

Id. at 166-67. Because the unlimited compensation for claims of emotional distress can open the door to fictitious claims, the rule in Farr and Thomas requires that a person suffer property loss before the person can recover emotional distress. The complainant must also have a claim for damages in addition to emotional distress. Farr 145 Ariz. At 7, 699 p. 2d at 3838; Thomas 163 Ariz. At 166, 786 P.2d at 1017.

In summary, during Farr v. Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Company and Thomas v. Goudreault the plaintiff has the right to exercise emotional and mental harm when they have claims for damages with damages regardless of any claims for emotional distress. Furthermore, expert testimony is not necessary for a jury to award emotional and mental emergency damages. Evidence from the plaintiff about damages to emotional and mental anxiety is sufficient to create a genuine question of material facts for a jury to consider.


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