Publication Date



34 p. ; An outstanding student paper selected as a Honors Paper.


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.


University of New Mexico School of Law

Document Type

Student Paper

Included in

Law Commons



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