An eggshell plaintiff is one who may have had some pre-existing injuries or conditions and might be considered more fragile, like an eggshell.
The law comes from a previous court case of Bennett v. Messick, 76 Wn.2d 474 (1969).
In this case the plaintiff was employed as a fruit picker. Another employee was driving a forklift and ran into the plaintiff. He sustained several injuries, including an ankle injury. He had previously injured the ankle 40 years prior.
Court testimony revealed that the plaintiff had significant degenerative changes in his ankle, but was not having pain at the time of the injury.
The treating doctor testified that the second injury from the forklift caused pain and limited motion because it aggravated the dormant arthritic condition in the plaintiff’s ankle.
He further testified that, were it not for the second injury by the forklift, that the plaintiff would never have had the medical problem he was then treating for.