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Zalnis v. Thoroughbred Datsun Car Co. FACTS: The plaintiff purchased a car from the defendant at a loss, upon finding out the defendant recalled the car to avoid a bad bargain. The plaintiff refused to give up her car but ultimately was taken from her. During her attempt to recover the car, she was berated by the defendant. The defendant had known the plaintiff for many years and knew that the plaintiff had watched her husband killed himself. The defendant moved for partial summary of judgment on the outrageous claims and was granted by the trial court.
ISSUE: Whether the defendant intended actions amount to outrageous conduct susceptible to inflict emotional distress when he knew she watched her husband kill himself.
RULE: For the purposes of infliction emotional distress, the plaintiff must prove the defendant intended to cause or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another and such harm resulted from it. The outrageous character conduct may rise from the person’s knowledge that the person is peculiarly susceptible to emotional distress by reason of physical or mental condition or peculiarity and that a reasonable person can differ there was an outrageous conduct.
APPLICATION: Here, the defendant knew the plaintiff for many years and was aware that the plaintiff watched her husband killed himself making her susceptible to emotional stress.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, the defendant was aware of her emotional susceptibility and acted intentionally or recklessly, causing her severe emotional distress.
Strauss v. Cilek FACTS: The defendant had being having romantic and sexual relationship with plaintiff’s wife. The plaintiff wasn’t aware of the affair until it was over. The defendant had expressed the intention of leaving his wife and children to pursue a permanent relationship with the plaintiff’s wife and record shows the plaintiff’s wife was unhappy in her marriage and that she had previous engage in extramarital affairs with another of the plaintiff’s friend.
ISSUE: Whether the defendant’s action constitutes outrageous conduct capable of inflicting emotional distress when he had an affair with the plaintiff’s wife.
RULE: For the purpose of emotional distress, for an act to constitute outrageous, it must be so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.
APPLICATION: Here, the defendant did had an affair with the plaintiff’s wife, but records shows (1) he was genuine about leaving his family to purse a permanent relationship with the plaintiff’s wife, (2) the wife had engage in a previous extramarital affair with the another plaintiff’s good friend and (3) that she was unhappy in her marriage. While the affair wasn’t condoned, it would not cause a reasonable person to consider it outrageous.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, the defendant’s conduct is not outrageous. Decision of the trial court is reverse and remanded for entry of an order granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Miller v. Willbanks. FACTS: The plaintiff had a baby, who was later diagnosed by the defendant has suffering from Drug Withdraw Syndrome. The defendant claimed such illness can only occur because the plaintiff had use drugs during her pregnancy. Rumor circulated about the plaintiff and her drug baby at which point they were treated rudely by nurses, and questioned by a social worker about their lifestyles. The defendant requested a drug test to which the plaintiff agreed. The drug test came back negative but the defendant disregard the test and reported the plaintiff to Health Department. The plaintiff was questioned again by a social worker regarding their living arrangements and examined the baby. The plaintiff sued the defendant for emotional distress. The defendant moved for a dismissal judgment on the count that the plaintiffs’ lack expert evidence to support their claims of serious mental injury and was the motion was granted by the trial court.
ISSUE: Whether expert medical proof of mental injury is required to maintain claim for severe emotional distress when he accused plaintiff of using drugs.
RULE: For the purpose of establishing infliction of emotional distress, an expert proof is generally not required as long as the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s conduct is so outrageous that it is not tolerated by a civilized society.
APPLICATION: Here, the defendant humiliate, shame, embarrass and anger the plaintiff when he accused them of taking drugs during pregnancy, caused them to worry and be treated rudely. Based on the outrageous conduct of the defendant, it is not beyond a reasonable person comprehension to differ that such conduct can’t inflict emotional distress.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, expert medical or scientific proof of serious mental injury is not required to maintain claim for intentional emotional distress. The judgment of the trial and appeal court is reversed and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.
Dana v. Oak Park Marina, Inc. FACTS: The defendant installed a video surveillance in the rest rooms, which include a changing area, shower facilities, and toilets. The plaintiff, a marina patron who utilizes the rest filed a complaint against the defendant claiming they had videotaped 150 to 200 women at various stages of undress without their consent, that the videotapes were viewed by defendants, and others; and that the tapes were displayed to others for the purposes of trade. Defendant brought a pre-answer motion to dismiss and was denied. The defendant filed an appeal.
ISSUE: Whether the defendant had acted recklessly without regards to the emotional distress such conduct will cause the plaintiffs when he taped them during stages of undress without their consent.
RULE: For the purpose of inflicting emotional distress, reckless conduct is encompassed with tort of outrageous conduct and an act that intent to cause or disregard a substantial probability of causing severe emotional distress is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
APPLICATION: Here, the defendant videotaped the plaintiff surreptitiously without her consent during different stages of undress, and allowed it to be view by others for the purposes of trade. Such conduct warranted act that could be found intolerable by a civilized society.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, the defendant’s conduct disregarded a substantial probability of causing severe emotional distress to the plaintiff.
Green v. Chicago Tribune Company FACTS: The defendant, a reporter photographed the plaintiff’s son who was undergoing emergency treatment without consent from the plaintiff, and requested a statement from plaintiff regarding her son’s death which she also refused to make a statement. While the child was place in a room awaiting a coroner, the defendant entered the room and took further unauthorized photograph of the son while preventing plaintiff from entering the room and when the plaintiff did enter the room, the defendant recorded the statement the plaintiff made to her son even though she wanted to make no public statement. The defendant published the statement and two of the unauthorized photographs of the plaintiff’s son. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant for alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff alleged complaint because the defendant conduct is neither extreme nor outrageous. Plaintiff appealed.
ISSUE: Whether the defendant transferred intent to cause emotional distress when he recorded statement, took unauthorized photographs and published them without consent from the plaintiff; (2) whether the defendant acted without disregard to the substantial probability of causing severe emotional distress.
RULE: For the purpose of transferring intent to inflict emotional distress, a reasonable person or jury could find that the defendant’s conduct shows alarming lack of sensitivity, civility; and such behavior extended beyond mere indignities, annoyances, or petty oppressions thus constitutes extreme and outrageous conduct.
APPLICATION: Here, the defendant conduct was extreme and outrageous when he (1) took several unauthorized photographs, (2) recorded the statement made by the plaintiff to her son even though she said no, (3) while taking additional photographs prevented the plaintiff from entering the room, (4) published the statement and two of the unauthorized photographs without the plaintiff’s consent. The defendant conduct has a high probability of causing severe emotional distress to a third party when he acted recklessly
CONCLUSION: Therefore, the defendant knew his conduct has a high probability of causing the plaintiff emotional distress.
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