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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:

“[65]…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 prolonged.”

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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