The Ontario Court of Appeal has agreed: upset, concern and worry
aren't enough to warrant compensation.
In Healey v. Lakeridge Health,
thousands of people were warned that they might have been exposed
to tuberculosis while visiting the emergency room or oncology
treatment centre of their local hospital. Two of the patients who
frequently visited that hospital turned out to have active
tuberculosis. None of the people who received the warning were
proved to have contracted TB as a result.
However, many of them found the news upsetting. They launched
class actions against the hospital and two doctors, seeking
compensation for this upset, concern and worry. The Ontario Court
of Appeal unanimously rejected their claims:
"...It seems to me quite appropriate for the law to
decline monetary compensation for the distress and upset caused by
the unfortunate but inevitable stresses of life in a civilized
society and to decline to open the door to recovery for all manner
of psychological insult or injury. Given the frequency with which
everyday experiences cause transient distress, the multi-factorial
causes of psychological upset, and the highly subjective nature of
an individual's reaction to such stresses and strains, such
claims involve serious questions of evidentiary rigour. The law
quite properly insists upon an objective threshold to screen such
claims and to refuse compensation unless the injury is serious and
The same rules would apply to those claiming compensation for
upset, concern and worry about other things, including exposure to
renewable energy projects such as wind turbines.
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